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FoodMusingsStaying HealthyTrip Journal

The 30-day Real Food Challenge AKA #RealFood30

By March 17, 2014May 12th, 20205 Comments
Our first #RealFood30 meal: homemade granola, recipe & process will be coming up in a post!

Our first #RealFood30 meal: homemade granola, recipe will be coming up in a future post!

First of all, apologies for not getting this post up sooner. We started our 30-day challenge on March 14, but we’ve been in the no-cell-reception, no-wifi-zone bouldering area outside of Roy, New Mexico (which was AMAZING–more on this sweet spot in a later post). I, of course, should have planned ahead and gotten this post up before we were in the middle-of-nowhere, but…well…still working on that whole planning-ahead thing. Promise.

Last week I wrote about why we want to do the challenge, now here are our rules, so y’all can keep us honest. Visit USAToday to learn more about the most healthiest dietary supplements and other treatments for conditions like ringing in ears for example.

The Absolutes:

–       No gluten: no wheat, barley, or rye.

–       No dairy: no cheese, no butter, no whey, no milk chocolate!

–       No bread products, not even GF ones: no chips, no crackers, no tortillas, no baked goods. This is mostly because both Spenser and I love bread products and rely too heavily on them. When I buy a loaf of gluten-free bread, I end up eating it in 1-2 days flat. That’s pretty ridiculous.

–       No soy: which includes soy byproducts such as soy lecithin, which means chocolate is going to be hard to find, but not impossible! Wondering what the heck soy lecithin is? Read more about the emulsifier that is found everywhere nowadays.

–       No energy drinks: no 5-hour energy, no Red Bull, and so on. Yes to coffee & tea.

–       No soda

–       No fake sugar, not even what you find in usual gum. Watch this when you get a chance. It’s not proof, but it’s information you should be aware of.

–       No corn syrup.

–       No sweets, no candy. Dark chocolate that is free of soy lecithin is allowed.

The Conditional:

–       Organic fruits & veggies: will try to buy organic leafy greens such as kale, but we are realistic about the areas we frequent. Organic is sometimes just not an option. Neither of us believe that you need to eat everything organic, especially not items such as avocados and bananas that have their own protective layer. Ever heard of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen?

–       GMO: stay away as much as possible for two reasons: one, the jury is still out on the effects genetically modified foods have our on bodies; two, we don’t want to support corporations like Monsanto if we don’t have to. If you’re into infographics, here’s one on GMOs.

–       Meat: consumption will be greatly reduced. We are sticking to only grass-fed beef, nitrate-free bacon, and no chicken unless we know where it came from, Portlandia-style (I’m mostly kidding about this, but you should still see video below if you don’t know what I’m referring to). There’s a few reasons for this- firstly, we want our focus to be eating fruits and vegetables for health reasons; secondly, most beef and poultry is fed wheat because it is cheap. This may (or may not) affect my Celiac Disease, but there’s only one way to find out; thirdly, meat is expensive and we spend too much money on it.

–       Fish: only herbivorous fish because of Mercury bioaccumulation. Fish that is raised appropriately based on the kind, ex: farmed tilapia is OK, farmed salmon is NOT. is the go-to resource to find out what sea creatures you should and shouldn’t eat.

–       Eating out: we will never eat out, just the two of us (yikes!). If we are going to go out with friends or for business, we will stick to salads (unless of course we can find something else on the menu that fits all of the above criteria). Unless it’s a place where we can find out every ingredient in the dressing, we will bring our own. This one is probably going to be the toughest to stick to, but we’re gonna do it!


Don’t worry, we’re still going to have fun. Alcohol is allowed, but will be greatly limited. Spenser has half a bottle of whiskey that he’s sticking to, and I’ve never been much of a drinker. No beer for the boy.

Did I also mention we both have an innate fear of commitment? Ahem, we’ve been living on the road for over 2 years, if that wasn’t already a hint. So, we’re committing. It feels good, it feels right. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, the nagging guilt of eating what I know, deep down, I shouldn’t, has been slowly eating away at my soul. I’m being dramatic, but if I could prove I had a soul, it would be very upset with how I’ve been treating it. Also, we’re not much for planning- again, probably pretty obvious by how we live our lives. This will be a challenge of the truest sort. It’s time to start planning every meal!

We don’t want to unrealistic, but we are done using on-the-road excuse to feed our addiction. Most of us have food addictions and they’re difficult to come to terms with. We want to break the cycle- we want to be in control of our cravings, instead of letting our cravings control us.

After 30 days, on April 13, we will decide what we want to start reincorporating. Hopefully we’ll have enough will power to do it properly- only adding one thing at a time to the diet to figure out what the make-us-feel-like-crap culprits are.

Alright, that’s all for now, folks!

What do you think? Are we crazy? Have you ever tried something like this before?


  • Elodie Van Lierde says:

    Hello there ! I am a friend of Spencer and I have been following your blog.for few.weeks now. Loving it by the way ! I wanted to react to as me and my little family have been into challenge for a.few.months now. Well it is not a challenge anymore as we adopted it for good. We are living in Madagascar and during my second pregnancy I realized that we were not eating right… And I couldn’t stand it. So after my baby girl was born, I had to change our way of eating, basically we are following what you wrote up here, except that I kept soya milk, goat cheese and a slice of whole grain homemade bread in the morning. No alcohol for me. We eat much more vegetal proteins, seeds, local honey, fresh fruit and vegetables… I am breastfeeding my baby, I work, I am sportive and I have never had so much energy, we feel way better. This is truely a life changing experience, and I wouldn’t want to go back to where I was before. Keep up the good work !!

    • Spenser says:

      Elodie, thanks for writing! I’m glad to hear that it works. We’re only a few days in and it’s hard to say whether we feel better because we think we are going to, or if there’s something real that’s changing in our bodies. I fully expect to be feeling much, much better after 30 days. It’s hard, though, because in America the standard for food is, well, very unhealthy. This makes social eating much more difficult.

  • Cody says:

    Hey there, Long time follower from Wisconsin. (friends with Peter and Ian over in Madison) I was hoping you guys would be able to shed light on your climbing performances based on your diet change. You are removing quite a lot of potential nutrients that can heal your overworked muscles after a long day at the crag( grains from bread, chocolate, Milk, etc). Obviously there are suppliments to this, But you guys are putting in work that professional athletes do and need recovery. Thanks for the post and look forward to the outcome of your little challenge. I can bet once you are done, you won’t want to go back and your body will end up giving you some problems if you try to. GOOD LUCK!

    • Vikki says:

      Hey Cody! Oh no, friends with Peter & Ian?! 😉 Really good to hear from you! We feel like we’ve had a more complete diet since we started the food challenge. To elaborate, our diet is more well-balanced diet with the restrictions we put on ourselves. Most of our meals consist of a majority of vegetables, but we often include grains, such as quinoa and brown rice. These grains offer more nutritional value than bread, so we are replacing the “lost” bread products quite well. We never drank regular milk, but have always used almond or coconut milk with our granola in the mornings. Definitely agree that we need tons of nutrients for the recovery process! I think both of us feel better, in general. Neither have lost weight, but (based on looks alone) we have both gained muscle mass and feel less weighed-down, hence, climbing stronger. We also both feel more energized on a daily basis. We are currently battling serious cravings, especially for sugary foods, but are trying to appease that with lots of dried fruit and dark chocolate that is soy-free. Hope this helps a bit! We have a about a week to go… Let me know if you have any other questions!!

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