Notes from a Portland Acupuncturist: October #Unprocessed Preparation

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October Unprocessed 2015


*If you haven’t signed up for the October Unprocessed Challenge yet, do so by visiting

Getting ready for my Unprocessed challenge has been more difficult than I anticipated. I have been wanting to reboot my diet for a while and have been mulling over a few different cleanses. When I came across October Unprocessed, I thought I could inspire my friends, family and patients to do it, but frankly I chose it because it doesn’t seem too hard.

I thought even people who eat thoroughly processed foods might hear about this challenge and think, “I can totally do that!” then they’d sign right up. I thought it would be totally easy for me — like I’d get credit for doing a “challenge” when I already actually eat that way. I’ll admit it: I was looking for the shortcut.

Then I started thinking about meals. Dinners at my house are almost always totally unprocessed: meat, fish, beans, fresh veggies, some rice or quinoa. But what about the pasta we eat? I could make my own pasta, but I don’t. And what about the toast I feed my kids in the morning? It’s healthy, real-food bread, but it does come from the grocery store in a plastic bag, not from the bakery. Keep or toss? On and on the questions came. What about the cheese we eat? It’s not American cheese, but I’ve seen Tillamook cheese go by on a conveyor belt at the cheese factory. Is that processed?

The official word from the Unprocessed Challenge folks is that

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

Committing to this challenge will make you examine just how Real the food is that you eat. And that’s the idea of the challenge in my mind. To redefine how you think about Food. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to make everything yourself. It means that you could make everything yourself. You can buy the loaf of bread if it is made with ingredients you could easily get your hands on. High fructose corn syrup? That’s out. When is the last time you saw that in the grocery store? You need to make sure that you could possibly make everything you eat this month. If you want to be a homesteader.

Really, truly, though, this month and this pledge is about making a difference in your life and in your health. If you currently eat processed breakfast cereal, pop tarts, frozen Lean Cuisine, packaged Trader Joe’s food for dinner, and Cliff Bars for a snack, it may be unrealistic to make the jump to 100% unprocessed food for a month. Make your pledge to cut out high fructose corn syrup and white flour. As long as you decide on your rules now and stick to them, you’ll still make lots of positive changes in your health.

Here are my October Unprocessed goals:

I will attempt to completely avoid anything processed, but I will allow myself to eat pre-made pasta, bread, alcohol (!), and cheese as long as they could be made in my kitchen.

I will be more mindful of the food choices I make, and about my motivations for eating — am I really hungry or just bored, stressed, tired, etc?

I will attempt to enjoy eating instead of just quickly throwing food in my mouth with little thought to what or how much. If I’m going to put in the work to eat well, I should really be enjoying it!

What are your October Unprocessed goals? Let me know in the comments section, and we’ll take this journey together.