As a New Yorker, I probably eat out for lunch at least four days a week and dinner at least twice a week. I work long hours, and my kitchen is smaller than my bathroom. I am honestly not joking about that. But because of how much I eat out, I've noticed that I feel more lethargic and I get a lot more stomach pain than I did when I was cooking more. I can almost definitely trace it to poor food choices, but it hasn't seemed to stop me from eating out. It wasn't until someone at work said, "I bet you can't give up takeout for 30 days," that I finally accepted the challenge. I am nothing if not competitive.
I took notes on how I was feeling throughout my 30 days, and once I made it past the first week, it was pretty smooth sailing as far as resisting takeout. Going in, I wanted to get myself in a better habit of meal prepping so I wouldn't be hungry all day at work, and I told myself I'd use Sundays to do that as well as dinner prep. Spoiler alert: none of that actually happened, but I did make it through the 30 days, and here's a recap of how it went.
Day one, Aug. 14: Feeling excited! EatStreet sent me a coupon today, which was rude and hard to resist.
Day two, Aug. 15: I'M ALREADY SO HUNGRY FOR PIZZA.
Day 20: Was hungry for pizza so I bought a frozen one, and it was more expensive than if I'd just ordered one, which is dumb.
As you can see, it only took two days before I was going through takeout withdrawals, but by the end of the first week, I was feeling better both physically and mentally. Takeout tends to make me feel bloated and uncomfortable, so by cutting it out and relying solely on food I could cook at home, I was sleeping more soundly from not having an overfilled stomach and spending my days without any stomach pain. It also wasn't without challenges, as I noted on day 20: Was hungry for pizza so I bought a frozen one, and it was more expensive than if I'd just ordered one, which is dumb.
In the end I learned a few things by giving up takeout and eating out for 30 days. I learned that if I tell myself I can't have it, then I end up sticking with it, which is something I want to keep using as a method moving forward with healthy living. Like, if I tell myself I can't do something unless I work out for 30 minutes first, I'll be more inclined to actually do it.
I also learned how much better I feel overall when I don't eat out. Sure, it was easy on my wallet, but physically I felt lighter and mentally I felt clearer. Restaurant food literally weighs me down in all ways. While I didn't end up losing any weight during this 30 days, I lost the bloat I usually experience.
But two of the most interesting things I learned over this month of no eating out were how many coupon codes for delivery food I get in my email and what it felt like to eat takeout the first time after going without. I stopped keeping track of how many coupons I got in my email, but on day five, when I got the second one in five days, I made a note of how rude it felt when I was trying so hard. And I did try really hard, and I made it through my 30 days, so I rewarded myself with takeout on day 31 just to see the difference, and oh my good Lord.
Day 24: Almost gave in and ate out for dinner, BUT I DIDN'T.
On day 31, I decided it was a great idea to order my favorite Chinese food and really just indulge. I got everything I love, and I spread it all out over my coffee table and whispered sweet nothings to it as I shoved it into my face. Going in, it was one of the best meals of my life. A few hours later, I was filled with regret and pain. I was quickly reminded of the havoc that restaurant food wreaks on my poor body, and that right there was enough of an eye-opener. Since that meal, I have cut back on eating out by a huge amount, and I continue to feel so much better. I sleep better, I have less bloat, my system is functioning more regularly, and I never get stomachaches.