Last week I decided to tackle project #13 from my list. I’ve been so focused on my recipe project that I’ve kind of forgotten about the rest of the projects. A lot of them won’t just happen without a bit of forethought from me, so I decided on Sunday last week (March 20) that it would be my meat free week. It was how I rang in 2010 last year, so the idea isn’t new to me.
There are a couple of reasons why I like to cut meat out of my diet every once in awhile. The biggest reason being that it puts food back into perspective for me and I’m forced to actually think about what I’m eating – whether it has enough protein to get me through the day, what I can have for breakfast that will keep me going until lunch, etc. I’m bad about coming home from school, being exhausted, and throwing a chicken breast in the oven and then eating basically nothing but chicken for supper. Cutting out the meat from my meals for a week meant I had to get more creative with what I was cooking, and it definitely meant that my plate looked a lot greener. Another reason to not eat meat for the week is to remind myself of what else I have in my cupboards. It was good to have to actually eat the produce I buy because I had nothing else, and it was a good reminder to look into the pantry once in awhile for things that can be served without meat.
Previous experiences with this have left me feeling completely ravenous at the end of the week, craving a steak like no one’s business, but it was significantly better this go around. My cousin Kari is an RN and I spoke to her numerous times during the week about what else I needed to add to my diet, and whether I was getting enough protein or not. I made a conscious effort to read labels and check protein compared with calories. There is no point eating something with 300 calories/serving if it only has 1 gram of protein in it because I’m likely to just eat more of something, trying to fill myself up.
I hesitate to say that I went vegetarian for the week because I was definitely still eating dairy products. I had eggs for breakfast fairly often, and put cheese in a lot of things to add some protein. I do find eating meat free to be a challenge some times, so I can’t imagine going flow blown vegetarian and cutting out the dairy too. It would have really forced me to be EXTRA conscious of what I was eating.
I will admit I didn’t make it to Saturday like I had planned, though it wasn’t because I couldn’t do it. Friday after work my friend Jena and I went for a drink then decided to stay for supper. It wasn’t until I put the first bite of steak in my mouth that I thought, “Oh crap! I’m not supposed to be eating this!” Too late though. It was incredibly enjoyable.
I ate a lot of cucumber salad, egg salad sandwiches, protein shakes or eggs for breakfast, and asparagus. I stocked up on veggies and enjoyed breakfast for supper more than once. Even without meat I still got to try two new recipes – roasted asparagus and a broccoli rice casserole. My lunches for school were good, and most of the time I packed more than I could eat because I was worried I’d be starved by the end of the day. I discovered a few more pointers about what keeps me full and what doesn’t to make the next go around better.
I think I’ll wait a month and then do another meat free week.