Gearing up for the October Unprocessed challenge



It starts tomorrow. Are you ready?

If you’ve never heard of October Unprocessed, it’s a fun project started by Andrew Wilder at Eating Rules, and the basic idea is to commit to clean, healthy eating for a month. Check out Andrew’s website to learn all about the specifics.

If you haven’t done so yet, I hope you’ll take the challenge with me.

For me, the benefits were numerous … I started reading labels more, and started paying more attention to all of the ingredients in my food. Once October was over, I kept reading those labels and avoiding processed foods entirely when possible. I realized that I was a pretty healthy eater already, because often I took it upon myself to make something from scratch rather than buy it in a package with a cartoon character on it. To me, it was never a contest, in terms of taste or of health — think about a homemade cheese sauce with pasta versus a box of flourescent yellow mac and cheese. The homemade sauce with no processed chemicals and who-knows-what is infinitely better, albeit more expensive. It also takes time. For some hardworking families, homemade is hard to do. Poor families can score dozens of processed meals for the price of one unprocessed … eating clean isn’t just more expensive; it’s hard.

With that in mind, here are some great ways to make it easier.

Phone applications

If you have a smart phone, there are dozens of apps out there that will help you count calories, track your fitness progress, and help you shop intelligently. One of my favorites for shopping is Fooducate, which I discussed in my October Unprocessed post last year. They have a great website about learning more about your food, but their smartphone app is really handy. You can scan the bar code of any product, straight from your phone, right in the store, for complete nutritional information, as well as tips for how to use that product (or a recommendation to not use it) depending on your specific nutritional needs.

This year, the Foodie app has a collection of really good October Unprocessed recipes. recommend the Foodie app anyway, but I love having these recipes handy when shopping and whatnot.

Also check out the hashtag #Unprocessed on other applications you use every day, like Twitter or Pinterest. I have an ever-growing October Unprocessed Pinterest board, so subscribe to it or check back often for more.

Online Support Groups

Last year there was an October Unprocessed 2013 Facebook group, which I found really helpful. This year it’s been transferred to “October Unprocessed” (no year) and I look forward to the same great community of people taking the challenge.

Some of the stories there are really, really, inspiring.


In addition to great social media ventures and smartphone apps, you can just go old-school: get a buddy. Having a friend participate in the challenge with you makes you keep each other honest and helps you keep your head in the game and stick to your plan.

Speaking of plans ….

Have a (doable) plan

Last year when I took this challenge for the first time, I had a plan. A great one. A super-duper insanely-detailed one. My plan contained daily menus.  My plan contained shopping lists and recipes. My plan also lasted less than a week. I had forgotten that although I am a foodie to the bone, I skip meals like crazy sometimes. I had forgotten that on weekdays, I am not spending the time to cook my oatmeal and quinoa from scratch in the mornings before I leave for work. And I had forgotten that … well, I am lazy sometimes.

This year I am not doing a month-long meal plan. At least not before I get started. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make a plan; some people perform better when they have everything planned out in every detail, and if you’re one of those people, by all means, do so. But make a plan that is as tailored to your schedule and your family’s needs as it is to the #Unprocessed plan.

Good luck, everyone! Have a great October #Unprocessed!

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