Earlier this year, my mom pledged to adopt the nothing white diet, as in no white food. I also swore off white flour, sugar, and dairy to see if this shift in diet might help with my feelings of fatigue and generally blah-ness. While I was no means perfect in adhering to it, I did notice an improvement.
Dairy. I cut out milk, half ‘n’ half, and cheese, and anything made with those ingredients such as ice cream or hot chocolate. My exceptions were butter (because really, life is too short to go without) and dark chocolate (because it is good for you). Immediately, I felt less sluggish and lost five pounds. Also, I spent less money and less time at Starbucks by ordering a small black coffee instead of my triple-shot latte with whole milk.
White flour. This one is tough. Whether it’s bread at a restaurant (almost never whole wheat) or choosing between GMO corn tacos or white-flour tortillas, white flour is everywhere. I was doing pretty well so long as I was cooking all my own meals—but extensive traveling put an end to that. Here’s what I’ve noticed, though: After eating white-bread-based food, my stomach hurts, as if there’s this giant dough ball in it. I feel much better without.
Sugar. Did you know that sugar is in everything?! It was even in the organic whole wheat bread we had been buying! It’s in even “good” snacks like the dried fruit or granola bars (though I found Kind Bars, which are made with honey). Cutting out sugar also means cutting out almost all beverages other than water, tea, and coffee.
Tips for trying this at home:
Keep a food diary or food checklist. If you have to write it down, you will be less likely to eat it. I organized mine by categories (fruit, protein, dairy, “baddies”) so I could see at a glance how I was doing.
Cut one vice a day. Perhaps Wednesday is no-sugar day, Thursday is dairy free, Friday is white flour free. It’s a mental trick that will help you cut down consumption without feeling too deprived. Also, the end result is largely the same since all these “baddies” tend to hang out together. (Hello, baked goods!)
Stock up on good stuff. Make sure you have fresh fruit and vegetables on hand. Heck, wash it and put it in a pretty bowl to facilitate snacking. Sip green tea with ginger and lemon.
Give yourself a chance to succeed. Weaning yourself off this stuff is hard. But a funny thing happened—after a few weeks my palate changed and I didn’t want to eat a ton of crap. It’s no longer a “rule” to not eat something, it’s simply a preference.
On the whole, I do feel better—and not just self-righteous. My moods and energy levels have evened out. I feel lighter, not in a lost weight way, but in a purity way. It’s not easy, and I haven’t been perfect, but on the whole I’m sticking with it!
Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book "Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained." She has a Master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own mayarodale.com. Her latest book is "The Tattooed Duke.