By: Kristin Bugden
Kristin Bugden is a New Jersey-based mom and communications consultant. She loves to write, take barre classes and believes in a good reality television binge-watching session. Here, she writes about her experience trying out the J.Lo Challenge.
The J.Lo Challenge, or 10 days without carbohydrates and sugar á la Jennifer Lopez, caught my eye one day in January while I was watching Today. Host Hoda Kotb participated, among other celebs, and was quick to share the short-term challenge was just that – a really difficult challenge. Even the queen herself – yep, I’m talking J.Lo – experienced withdrawal headaches during her turn, as she revealed to Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show. “You realize that you’re addicted to sugar. And I’m thinking about it all the time,” the singer-actress told DeGeneres. “I’m like, ‘When can I have sugar again? I’m going to have cookies and then I’m going to have bread and then I’m going to have bread with butter.’ “
While I, too, am up for a good challenge, 10 days is admittedly too long for me. Instead, I gave the J.Lo Challenge a shot for a total of three days. Here’s how it went for me.
I started the challenge on a Monday and used the day before to read a little more about it before food prepping. In a nutshell, you’re allowed to eat non-starchy vegetables (i.e. kale, spinach, celery, broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, cauliflower, bell peppers, and zucchini), nuts and sugar-free nut butter, meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, avocado, oil, and only some varieties of fruit, like blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. That’s really it. Bread, candy, starchy vegetables, most fruits, grains, beans, sweeteners, dairy, soda, and alcohol are notallowed. So, I hit the store and mentally prepared myself for the next 72 hours.
I always start the day with a coffee, which is basically a nonnegotiable when you’re a parent to a 14-month-old kid. The day before, I had made a frittata with mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini, so had a piece of that for breakfast. Throughout the morning, I had a couple of snacks, which included nut butter on celery sticks, almonds, and a few turkey rollups with avocado. Lunch was spinach salad with some rotisserie chicken, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I actually hate condiments, so that aspect wasn’t hard for me as I dressed the salad with olive oil. I was starting to get irritable around mid-afternoon but didn’t necessarily feel terrible. I had a snack of carrots and salsa before dinner, which consisted of lean chicken sausage, cauliflower, sautéed mushrooms, and a small spinach salad. That was it! I went to bed feeling full for the most part but was missing my usual dark chocolate dessert.
I woke up on the second day feeling a little grumpy. One of the things I didn’t love about the challenge is that the main thing you can eat for breakfast is eggs and I’m not a “let’s have eggs every day!” kind of person. Instead, I cheated with some oatmeal and banana. (Please forgive me, J.Lo!) My mouth was literally watering as I made my daughter an English muffin, so I ate some of that as well. I snacked on celery and nut butter with some almonds again. Lunch was a kale and romaine salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, and olive oil. I also had a vanilla latte, which was technically cheating because I added sweetener. But wow, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t taste good. For dinner, I made turkey meatballs alongside broccoli and a salad, but had some bread because I was just too hungry!
To be completely honest, I was totally over the diet by the third day. I had oatmeal again for breakfast and mid-morning snacks included strawberries, avocado, almonds, and nut butter with celery. I had chicken soup for lunch and shared the noodles with my daughter, so I didn’t consider it a complete failure. I stuck to the diet until dinnertime when I ended up eating some spaghetti bolognese and Italian bread. Can you blame me?
While partaking in The J.Lo Challenge was an interesting experience, I don’t think a diet that totally eliminates carbs and sugar is for me. I’ve never been a dieter and choose to eat healthy for the most part, but I’ll also indulge here and there. After getting through the first day, I really was just too hungry to keep going without carbs. However, I did eat less carbs than I normally would throughout the rest of my mini J.Lo Challenge. Ultimately, I stand by what I’ve always believed in: listening to your body’s cravings. And I will continue sticking to that personal mantra when it comes to mealtime.