I have always liked fruits and vegetables, but I have never enjoyed them as much as our two guinea pigs, Ginger and Cocoa, do. Like most guinea pigs, these two LOVE their veggies! Crinkle a produce bag and they “wheek” like crazy, and come running just as fast as their little legs will carry them. Their love of vegs is so total and so complete! Their favorites are Romaine lettuce, green and red peppers, broccoli and carrots. They also enjoy an occasional strawberry top, or a slice of orange or apple.
Recently, I read an article that said that nine out of ten Americans aren’t eating the recommended 1½ cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. I started thinking that maybe our two fur balls were on to something. I had an idea. What if I cut out junk food and sugar and increased my own intake of fruits and veggies to recommended levels? In other words, what if I ate like a guinea pig for 30 days? The 30-Day Guinea Pig Challenge was on!
[Ginger and Cocoa enjoying their veggies in their STAYbowl® Tip-Proof Bowl, Fuchsia Pink 3/4-cup]
Obviously, I wasn’t going to eat the hay and other “unmentionables” that are a critical part of guinea pigs’ vegan diet. But it certainly wasn’t going to hurt me to up my intake of fruit and veg. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that increased fruit and vegetable consumption lowers risks for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
I cut out the news article and posted it on the fridge. “Anyone want to join me in a 30-day Guinea Pig Challenge?” I asked hopefully one night at dinner. My husband and two teen-age kids shifted uncomfortably in their chairs, looking protectively at the burgers and fries on their plates. The silence was deafening. So, guess it would just be me and the guinea pigs.
[Guinea Pig Salad, Anyone? STAYbowl® Tip-Proof Bowl, Spring Green, 3/4-cup]
Here were the rules:
- Eat mostly plants
- Vary your greens and try to “eat the rainbow” every day
- Minimize processed food, meat, fat and sugar (but don’t go nuts)
One of the many advantages to owning guinea pigs is that there is always fresh veg in the house. I didn’t want to go completely overboard, so decided to start out nice and easy and just try adding more fruit and vegetables to my existing diet. My goal was to eat at least one fruit and veg with every meal, and I focused on eating whole foods. My new Breville juicer and NutriBullet blender were great for trying out new fruit-veg combinations, especially at breakfast. The juicing and blending was an easy way to get the day started on the right foot.
[Nummies!! Ginger and Cocoa Love Their Fruits and Vegs]
The first week was tough, but whenever I started to waiver, Ginger and Cocoa were always there cheering (wheeking?) me on. They were great for moral support. After that first week was up, I started noticing that my clothes fit better, and my sugar and junk food cravings had disappeared. I also started to enjoy (and look forward to!) a wider variety of fresh produce. And there were other benefits, too: I slept better, lost a few pounds, my skin tone improved and I felt healthier and more energetic. Not bad, guinea pigs!
Now that I am nearing the end of the 30 days, I am seriously thinking about continuing my “Guinea Pig Challenge.” Thank you, Ginger and Cocoa, for being such great role models. You are truly an inspiration! Maybe I can get the rest of the family to join me this time … (yeah, right).
[Please note that this is not to be taken as medical advice. Please consult a doctor prior to starting any new diet or eating plan.]