the original food diet: what I learned in 40 days

I just finished 40 days of the original food diet. 40 days of eating only real, plant-based food.

Three weeks ago, I was thinking this day would never come.  :)

I'm happy to say that today, 41 days after we started, I've never been more excited about a diet.

I've never followed any specific sort of "diet" before, so it was a completely new experience to have "rules" to follow. I mentally rebelled against the rules when I started. I missed my half and half and my salad dressings, and my granola bars. And the large {ridiculous} amount of caffeine I had acclimated my body to.

It's been 47 days since I had a Diet Dr. Pepper or any kind of soda. And coming from a serious ddp junkie, that's pretty much a miracle! I never thought I would give up drinks just like that.

I love the way I feel not drinking them. I love the way I feel not eating fake carbs like granola bars and cereal and cookies and chips. It sounds silly, but they drag you down and make you feel terrible. {coming out of 40 days without them, I can say that! ;)}

ah, dear cinnamon stromboli, you taste so good but I learned that you are not so kind to my body.

I've really learned a lot about myself in the past few weeks.

I always knew I had a love/hate relationship with food. I love to eat, I love to cook, and I love the way food tastes. I enjoy food.

But I had to micromanage what I ate in a way. I added up calories in my head, and the higher calorie empty carbs I loved often left me starving for more. Carbs and caffeine cycled in a way that kept me at high energy to exercise, but left me low after I was done. And it was always a delicate balance of trying to eat just the right amount so I felt good.

This way of eating has changed the way I feel and how I eat in so many ways! I have a steady source of energy, and I don't feel like I need to eat something all the time to keep it up. I'm rarely really hungry at all these days.

But what I was surprised by the most?

It wasn't the physical aspect of the diet.

It was the heart aspect.

I was kind of shocked to learn at least three different things during this challenge. I just never expected this to be any more than a surface level experiment. I mean, it's just food, anyway!

Here's what I found over the last 40 days:

1. I was finding my joy in food.
I had no idea that I put so much stock into what I was eating. When my favorite foods were taken away, I was nearly depressed. I didn't want to eat anything for a while. I couldn't have my favorite croutons, or bread when we went out, or the sushi I loved so much, or a piece of carrot cake on our date, and it actually made me feel sad!

I put so much anticipation and let my food choices control the way I felt. I don't overeat, so this was such a revelation to me. I loved food in a way that made it sort of an idol. It controlled my emotions. I misplaced my affections by finding so much fulfillment and joy in what I ate.

It might sound silly, but this diet has actually been a fast from my love of food.

2. Legalism is a battle I didn't know I faced.
Even though I love being given grace, I'm apparently a super rule follower {I'm sort of type A!}. I found myself being very mentally upset in social settings when I needed to eat something that wasn't on my diet. I said from the beginning, people before food- that I would choose to eat what was served by my friends and family because I loved them more than my diet.

But my heart still wanted to follow the law. I hated breaking the rules that I {a human!} had made. My own rules. Forget the big picture: that I was changing our entire lifestyle for the better, and that was on the diet for at least 40 days, and that one serving of something wasn't going to hurt me in the least. I was worried about the jot and tittle.

I found comfort in following the rules. And it makes me think about my spiritual life in a whole new way. How many times would I rather just follow the "rules" than the big picture- seeking after the heart of Jesus? Ahhhh.

3. Self-discipline is a very good thing for my heart. 
The past 40 days have been huge for my family. We've changed the way we eat, and I started the 12 hour challenge, where I stay offline for 12 hours a day so that I can lose my addiction to the constant flow of information.

Both challenges were extremely hard for me in the beginning. I felt like I lost my best friend or something. It was so difficult to let go of the things that I love so much!

But the results have been amazing. Disciplining myself to eat only foods that were good for me made me realize how poorly I was feeding my body in the past. Doing the same with the internet made me realize how much I was neglecting the things I needed to tend to in lieu of being in the know.

Disciplining myself actually brought me more freedom in the end. I now can enjoy whatever I want, because it's all good for me. Not being on the internet {a sacrifice for me}, gave me the ability to walk away from it and be present with my family.

I'm so glad to have walked through this 40 days.

It's funny, but I can't go back now. Freedom tastes too good. I love the food I'm eating these days- good, filling food.

We're staying with this diet, hopefully as long as we are living- but with one caveat- that we are allowed to eat meat, or dairy, or eggs if we feel it's important to the situation.

We will allow ourselves to eat a piece of cake on our special date. That's how I think we can stick to it long-term. We've changed our bodies to like the good food, but we don't want to leave behind every good thing and be all legalistic about it. :)

I'll update you with a physical changes post soon! I'm waiting to find out the final 40 day measurement stats! :D

Q: If you joined me, how did you do? I'd love to hear!

And whether you did or not, do you ever find yourself seeking joy from what you eat too? I'd honestly never thought about it before, but I placed so much emotion in to what I was eating! It was such a perspective change for me!


  1. My plan was to join you fully, but it didn't happen yet. I kind of half joined you--everything except dinners with my family and my beloved diet Dr. Peppers(I drink at least 3 a day besides my 3 cups of coffee--yikes!) Anyway, now that you have done it, I am VERY motivated and talked my husband into going whole heartedly into it. Thanks for the inspiration! I want to start the 12 hour challenge too.

  2. I happened upon your blog a month ago and have enjoyed reading. May I recommend a great website? You should check out I have really enjoyed reading her blog and learning about the 12 steps to whole foods.

  3. Mary@Finding Healthy HopeJanuary 29, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    i am in for the long haul, girl.
    of course there is cheat days when i am away from home, eating at someone else's house, but i am so done with sugar!
    i don't even crave it now and i am a raw foods lover!
    i have been eating 90% raw, and i am NEVER hungry, always have energy, and have NO crashes.
    eliminating meat, dairy, sugar and cooked foods has, like you said, given me FREEDOM! and i don't DWELL on my next meal because i'm almost never hungry!
    God is so good to help me through this. it's been such a blessing!
    so glad to have you as my buddy in this.
    love ya!

  4. I wish we had a grocery store like yours! Ours sells the general bland fresh foods that most people ascribe to, such as various lettuces, yellow squash, zucchini but nothing really different and really healthy. I would love to follow this diet! We almost do with the exception of eating meat regularly and we do use creamer in our decaf coffee, the organic and plain kind :) I can't wait to see your measurements!

  5. When you need something quick and convenient to carry along try Larabars if you haven't already. They taste great and are all natural. The Apple Pie one I have for my afternoon snack today is only made of dates, almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon. I love that their ingredient lists are so short and simple. Sort of a raw no fake carb version of a granola bar. :)

  6. I'm in it for the long haul too! I have found that I am loving what I am eating and how it makes me feel (or not feel). I have learned a lot about my self, and some bad eating habits I was forming. I wasn't anything serious, but it was not what what best for my body. I had some bloodwork done a few days ago and everything looked great except my iron was low. So, I'm working on making sure I get enough. Any suggestions?

  7. domesticblissdiariesJanuary 29, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    This was such an honest post that I desperately needed to read. My biggest excuse is that we cant afford good food. But I know if its truly important to me, I'll figure it out.

  8. I have been following something similar for two months now, no dairy (except plain unsweetened yogurt),no gluten and no SUGAR. I feel amazing, no more crippling insomnia, no more mood swings & depression. I have lots of energy and have lost 8kgs as a bonus! (17.6 pounds) I have been doing this on my own, but now are going to convert all of my family. Like you I will eat dairy now as required and sweet stuff on a special occasion, but not every day like I was. Everyone should give up sugar, it changes your life!!

  9. Where can i find some family friendly recipes? Love these posts--would love to see some weekly menus. :)

  10. I'm just beginning this journey and love the positive results you've had. I need to lose weight, but more importantly, I want to feel better and not feel like food has control over me. I know once I get sugar/refined stuff out of me I'll feel better and hopefully have a better perspective of what food was meant to be...fuel.

  11. Hi! Not sure I've ever commented before (if not SORRY!). I did a 3 week Daniel fast in Jan/feb and I felt so great. I have reverted back to my daily ddp (though it does taste so artificial! But sorta good too . . .). Anyway thanks for the encouragement - I made beans and rice today because I feel so good when I eat them!
    xo ellie

  12. I'm TRYING! You've got to tell me - what grocery store was that potato aisle picture taken in?? I have NOTHING like that here!

  13. I was just chatting with a friend about this. I like the idea of sticking with a diet of guidelines and principles, and allowing the occasional treat to make it more sustainable. But I find once I have one treat, it rapidly disintegrates into a 4-week junk food feast that leaves me feeling sluggish and disgusting. It's almost like I'm better off being legalistic about it to keep it going... but I hate that thought too.

  14. Just a quick question, and it's not very delicate, sorry for that, but I have been doing this for the last week, and I have gas and bloating that are quite painful. Is this something that others experienced, and if so, does it go away? Because when you look like you are literally 4-5 months pregnant from bloat, it's not a good thing!!

  15. It definitely does, after a few weeks. The protein still feels heavier to me even though I don't have as many bloating issues, so I only eat beans at night anymore. :)

  16. I understand. A few ideas that you may not have seen before ...

    ---Sue Gregg's blender pancakes (google her) use whole grains of your choice (rice, oats, wheat ...) that you blend with the liquid of your choice in your regular blender (not even a vitamix). Really yummy and cheap if you can buy in bulk. I think her blender pancakes recipe is free on her website.

    ---In the same way, you can make your own "steel-cut" oats by mixing water and whole oat groats in your blender. Let it soak overnight and it will cook up pretty quickly in the morning.

    ---Do you have Azure Standard in your area (a food delivery co-op)? You can buy organic grains and beans, even produce, for great prices.

    ---If you eat meat, buying beef by the quarter or half direct from the rancher makes good quality beef around $4-5/lb and this includes the fancier cuts.

    I hope you find some resources that work for you!

  17. Hey there! I've been following you for a while now, and I am curious what you ate as snacks or between meals- My husband and I both work full time in an office environment, and I struggle coming up with different healthy and as natural as possible snack foods to keep at my desk. Do you have any suggestions?

  18. I love that you talk about legalism! I've battled diet legalism my entire life. How true - with both diet and God - that it's not the details but THE HEART that matters most. Thank you for this powerful reminder!

  19. Wow,i admire your discipline in following through with this diet.I love my food so i can't imagine where i would be without certain things.I guess it's finding what works for you and sticking with it. :) My aim is yo cook more nutritious foods as opposed to cutting out certain things.

  20. It sounds like such a neat journey! I have been trying to find something for myself... that could be a lifestyle. Can I ask... are there guidelines you followed... as in recipes etc? It sounds awesome but I don't even know where to start.

  21. I came here to look at your before-and-after living room and twenty minutes later, I'm still poking around and enjoying your posts.

  22. I love your website and your blogs!!! 3 weeks ago I started "eating better" and have had a few slip-ups but for the most part have only eaten veggies, a few eggs and a lil milk in my coffee. Reading your Original Diet blogs I have decided that starting on Monday, I will do the same for at least 40 days but hopefully for the rest of my life. I am overweight and the food I have been eating is making me feel ill now. I am borderline diabetic and have the achey joints like your dad. Please let us know how his diabetes is doing as my husband has diabetes and we need to control it now before it controls him! I love reading your website and the fact that you love the Lord! Pray for us and we will pray for you and yours! God bless! Jane and Leon


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