[bf_image id="qfzjl7-5ozzs8-dq5dyt"] The 28 Day Reset challenge, created by Cassey Ho, also known as Blogilates on Youtube, is a journey to a cleaner diet and a way to become more aware of how certain foods affect your body. For twenty-eight days, you will remove five things from your daily diet: dairy, gluten, added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol. As this challenge is also designed to encourage a holistically healthy lifestyle, users are also encouraged to integrate working out six times a week and be conscious of their daily water intake. The goal is to see how the removal of these foods and the addition of these healthy habits affect your body and if they reveal any possible intolerance to certain food groups such as dairy or gluten. Once you complete the 28 days, you will begin to slowly reintroduce each food group back into your diet (some in moderation of course) and make note of how they affect you. Her Campus writers and Hofstra students Cecilia Gray and Sabrina Josephson accepted the challenge at the beginning of this fall semester. Together, we have decided to share our experiences, results, and advice with anyone else who is interested in embarking on this reset.
My personal goal for this was to challenge myself to a healthier diet, especially during this pandemic season, as a way to balance the workouts I was doing. While workouts help, I also wanted to be aware of what was going into my body. The 28-Day Reset wasn't a strict "no" on all foods; instead, it was more about building awareness about what's in the foods I typically buy.
Covid-19 hit me really hard, especially in terms of scheduling my life and not getting bored with staying at home. As most of you probably know, quarantine has left a lot of room for that boredom and at least early on, that may have been attached to just visiting your kitchen because there was nothing else to do. While I did find myself cooking and baking a lot at the beginning of quarantine, it often wasn’t the best for my health. I mainly wanted to see if I could go 28 days without the foods that I was accumulated to eating but also to create an active change in my diet.
The Easiest Parts
- I actually had no issue with removing dairy from my diet. I had already been halfway there in my day-to-day, where I used oat milk in my coffee rather than the milk my family typically buys. At the start, Greek yogurt was the only thing I needed to omit from my diet. The only time I faltered was when I wanted something sugary and the thing I chose had milk products in it.
- The second one was gluten. I recently found out that I have an addiction to rice cakes and so I found them as a suitable replacement to bread and also as a great snack. I would match it with some Rx peanut butter and some smashed raspberries on top for a pseudo jam. If I was craving pizza, Trader Joe's has an awesome cauliflower crust that doesn't include any cheese, as most cauliflower crusts do. Matching that with vegan cheese and veggie toppings made getting through the 28 days a lot easier.
The Biggest Challenge
For me, the hardest thing was absolutely cutting out sugar. I technically made this reset a lot longer for myself because I would fold often in the first two weeks of August and since I'm stubborn, I would start the 28 days over. My sister loves to bake cookies galore, and I have family that love to stock the house with the best types of sweets, so believe me when I say it was hard. The struggle was also real in finding food that didn't have any added sugars, especially after I found out that both honey and agave count as added sugars. From there, I just found ways to use Stevia as a sugar replacement and also separated out all of the food that I purchased in my family’s pantry.
My Overall Reaction
I think this challenge is certainly doable and I would recommend it. I'm personally going to try doing it again once October comes around because I miss the sense of productivity I get from waking up and working out while also caring about what I put in my body. By the end of it, I felt a lot better about myself and though I was looking forward to when I could have ice cream again, I honestly enjoyed the challenge of creating a lifestyle change and doing it well. If there was anything I could change about how I handled it, it would probably be sticking to Blogilate's meal plan more than I did to see how that type of regimen affects me. We'll see how October shakes out.
So I'm happy to say that I don't think I have a dairy or gluten intolerance. After the 28 days, I had lost seven pounds of weight, and my skin cleared up from the normal amount of acne that I typically get. One of my family members even told me that my skin was "glowing." While I don't know if I believe them, I can see by integrating foods with sugar back into my diet how my skin is being affected with breakouts. I highly suggest trying to stick to this challenge as much as possible if you pursue it. Drink the necessary amounts of water. I would even say go above and beyond (I tried to drink at least 128 oz a day). Exercise for 30 minutes a day, maybe 40. That extra movement honestly always made me feel a lot more ready for the day, whether I wanted to be or not. Cassey Ho also has a strict meal plan and recipe book that you can invest in, but it isn't necessary to buy when on this diet. I found myself ad-libbing on what I would eat throughout the day rather than following her plan of eating 5 small meals a day.
Even now, on the other side of the diet, I catch myself making healthier choices when I feel like I'm hungry. I also find it easier to notice when I'm just eating out of boredom and knowing when I'm doing that makes it easier to prevent it or to just actively think about what I want to eat in those moments.
- Do your research on it. It's always good to know what you're going into, and it's also totally okay to just slowly ease into this challenge. Rome wasn't built in a day after all.
- I would also suggest that you find alternatives to your favorite foods. I think that might have been my favorite part: just finding things that made me happy pre-challenge that could still contribute to my mental well-being during the challenge.
My Top 3 Recipes
- I found these to be really good whenever I made them, and if you're a lover of avocado toast, I think you'd find this to be a good substitute for it. You can put your mashed avocado on it, add a sunny side up egg and some chili flakes, and still be satisfied afterwards.
- If you love ice cream and don’t think that you can give it up, “Nice Cream” is perfect to get you through the twenty-eight days. All you need are frozen bananas and a splash of unsweetened almond milk to make it. If you feel like it, you can also flavor it with cocoa powder or a bit of vanilla extract.
- This banana bread is great for a snack throughout the reset. If you so choose, you can make chocolate chips/chunks (and substitute the maple syrup/honey with stevia). Her Campus Writer and collaborator on this article, Cecilia also made this using blueberries as a substitute for chocolate chips. Overall, it’s really easy to make and I wish I knew about it earlier.
5 Must Haves To Get Through
[bf_image id="q2y1jk-3o3oh4-ewf43q"] Rice Cakes and Popcorn
- I literally lived off both of these, especially when I wanted a bread substitute. For rice cakes, it’s a good snack and it doesn’t feel like you’re eating a lot if you want to eat one or two. Popcorn, on the other hand, offers that same crunch and it's very light, so you can basically snack on as much as you want. Blogilates recommends mixing freeze dried bananas and cinammon in with your popcorn, but the freeze dried bananas were way too sweet for my liking.
Trader Joe’s Vegan Pesto
- I always paired this with cauliflower or kale gnocchi. A little bit goes a long way, and I loved using it more than regular tomato sauce when I made gluten free pasta.
- This is an awesome substitute for flour. I never particularly liked coconut, but this was great. I made crepes with it, and it is also used in the banana bread recipe. This is also completely odd, but it also smells really good. A simple Google search will bring you to so many recipes that are reset friendly (or they can be adapted) and made with coconut flour.
- These bars are all natural and only have few ingredients (depending on which one you get) but the majority are reset-friendly. I personally had the flavors "Peanut Butter Cookie" and "Cherry Pie". There's no added sugars in them because they are blended up with dates. "Cherry Pie" is made up of dates, almonds, and unsweetened cherries and "Peanut Butter Cookie" only has dates, peanuts and sea salt in it. While it's definitely easier to buy these, you can also make them on your own. On the Larabar website, you can see what ingredients are in specific bars and just blend them together yourself in a food processor.
- The best thing for me to put with rice cakes is peanut butter. My favorite brand that I found was Rx (they also have almond butter, but that was pricier than peanut butter). I only ever tried their cinnamon honey flavor and I could probably live off that for a while. I highly recommend it, but also find whatever works for you.
I definitely learned a lot during these 28 days, and I hope my experience and advice helps you as you begin your 28-Day Reset. If you want to learn about another person's experience with this challenge, check out Cecilia Gray's article where she talks about her own goals, challenges, results, and must haves for the 28 Day Reset Challenge. You can also visit Cassey’s website for a variety of recipes, workout plans, and advice columns.