Eating your greens has never been easier with the sprouting (pun intended) of restaurants offering more than just a basic salad or sidings of vegetables and fruits.
But having a full-time job with an unpredictable schedule often means having to consume highly processed, fatty food at most establishments. This is the dilemma I found myself in, three months into starting a new job.
The work was great, but the menu options were not. My office building was filled with fast-food (read: deep-fried and MSG-laden) choices, and it was beginning to affect my energy levels, not to mention my ever-tightening wardrobe.
These were warning signs that I had to start eating better, so I looked into a salad-dedicated restaurant, Juju Eats (www.jujueats.com) and its meal plan as a way to add more greens into my daily diet.
The meal plan, according to Juju Eats owner and founder Kat Rempe-Azanza, is not necessarily a weight-loss program. Instead it makes sure one is given proper nutrition by consuming vegetables and fruits through salads, wraps and cold-pressed juices as a “meal replacement.”
The plan allows one to choose from Juju Eats’ regular menu (available at its three branches) plus juices. But it can also be customized according to preference.
I wanted something low-carb so I asked to replace the pasta (in the Tuna Nicoise pasta salad, for example) with romaine lettuce. I’m also not big on chicken, so I picked alternative ingredients.
Azanza explained that the real program was a 21-day diet and exercise regimen. But since I had about two weeks before a big event, she suggested I supplement the salads with oatmeal for breakfast.
I was also asked if I had other dietary restrictions (some go for an all-out cleanse, removing food and drink that they are addicted to); I had none, and even added the delicious nutmilk latte as my caffeine “treat” every other day.
My goal was to just rid myself of some of the excess bloat and gain more energy during the day. It also afforded me the chance to avoid all the fast-food temptations in the office building.
I was reminded that dramatic weight loss would be achieved only if I went through the full program and had a regular exercise routine. For my needs and schedule, a two-week program would be a good jump-off point back to healthy eating awareness.
I made my final selection in my meals, juices and coffee, combining it with some brisk-walking three to four times a week.
In the past, when I had to shed some weight, I went a little extreme with full-on juice cleanses like Juju Cleanse’s (www.jujucleanse.com) five-day Level 3 program, or even a 15-day foray into Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet) which gave me amazing results.
Those were the days, though, of my freelance work life, where I could lock myself in my room and be antisocial if I wanted to. But now I had a full-time job that required attending events. Besides, too many extreme diets were not sustainable, and if one doesn’t have the discipline of a Navy Seal, weight gain could come back twofold through bingeing.
Mix and match
I was looking for something that would be easier to do, and still allow me to have meals with friends and officemates. Having the option to mix and match actual food and juices makes for an easier transition rather than the knee-jerk reaction some people get when they let go of solid food altogether.
Juju Eats salads are extremely tasty and filling. I didn’t find myself hungry, although I had to fight off some of my sugar cravings. Having juices on hand helped curb the urge when my thoughts strayed to chocolate and ice cream.
Within the first week, I noticed that my energy increased (no more sleepy moments right after lunch) and my digestion improved.
Week 2 proved a little more challenging as I was going out for socials in the evening; so I stuck to wine and grilled viands for dinner and just ate my Juju meals and juices throughout the day, spacing them between breakfast, lunch and snacks.
By the time I ate my last salad over the 14 days, I felt less bloated and lighter. I lost only about 2 lbs, but due to the lessening of processed food, sugars and sodium, my clothes were draping on me with less stress and strain.
Oh, and as a bonus, I fit into my big event ensemble with ease and grace.
For more information on the Juju Meals Plan, e-mail [email protected] or call tel. 5513968.