I Didn't Eat Rice for 46 Days... Here's What Happened
I think I have an unhealthy relationship with rice. Scratch that. I know I have an unhealthy relationship with rice.
And if you know me even remotely, you probably know this fact.
Rice is what I blame for my bingo wings and love handles. At a restaurant, I'm very often scanning the menu for rice. Rice is the reason I'm a fan of Thai, Indian, Malaysian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, and ofcourse Nigerian cuisine - which is the biggest culprit of all. At an event I'm most likely filling my plate with rice - and going back for seconds. Or if there's no rice, I'm most likely wondering "how is there no rice?". As someone said, a party without rice is basically a gathering.
Rice was my default work lunch on most days. I remember once a senior colleague at work who is British asked what I was having for lunch.
- Me: rice
- Him: oh, with what.
- Me: just rice. Jollof rice
- Him: isn't that like a side
- Me: not really. Rice for us can be the main meal. I've got some chicken but that's the side.
- Him: that's weird.
- Me: *rolls eyes in my mind*
In retrospect I should have explained how the Indian Biryani or Spanish Paella was not often considered a side. Or how Jamie Oliver - popular British chef attempted to make Jollof rice as a meal and not a side. Or how spaghetti bolognese is seen as a meal and not a side. You get my point don't you?
Rice didn't have to be a side. Yes you could have it as a side. But in my world, rice was not a side. It was the main.
Okay, you get my love for rice.
I can't really recall when this love affair started. But it has run deep. I probably eat different kinds of rice three times a week. At that's me being modest.
As Lent approached, and people mentioned giving up some of their fave indulgences from social media to alcohol, the thought fleetingly crossed my mind:
"what if you don't eat rice for the entire 46 days"
"what if you resolve to build some discipline in relation to this weakness"
"what if you actually do it?"
First I thought "hahaha. Jokes"
And then I thought, "why not?"
It was worth a try.
And so while many people probably enjoyed pancakes on shrove Tuesday - which happened to be Valentine's day this year (the day before Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent), I ate several plates of rice and mentally prepared for the days ahead.
On April 1st, Easter Sunday - 46 days came to an end.
Here's what happened:
1. I did it!
Yes, that's the bottom line. I didn't consciously eat rice for 46 days. If nothing else, I'm proud of this fact. And like many things in life, it reminds me that impossible is nothing - first with determination and second with support. One reason I was able to do it was because a fellow rice lover and friend agreed to do this with me as well. When it got tough and we got tempted, we'd lament and countdown together. And oh yes, there was some temptation. At some point we hosted a mini party and I had a fresh steaming Jollof rice. But to me it was just a gathering - not a party. In addition, I also cooked my new found favourite coconut fried rice - without tasting it. Will power is amazing.
2. But I ate rice... unconsciously
Notice I used the word consciously above. Well that was intentional. But no, I didn't eat rice in my sleep or under duress. It's a bit difficult to explain, but for like 10 minutes I simply forgot my resolution and I didn't realise I was eating rice.
We were at a restaurant and I instinctively ordered steak with rice as a side. I photographed the food before eating (as we Instagram generation tend to do these days) and photographed my empty plate after - uploading both to Instastory with the hashtag yum! And then this happened:
- Friend: did you just eat rice??
- Me: omg omg omg. I didn't realise.
Yeah - but the good thing is rather than think I'd failed and it was all over, I continued... and that's why I can boldly type out number 1 above.
3. My abs didn't appear
I thought rice was the reason my lack of abs. So I thought not eating rice in such a long time would mean the excess fat hanging loosely would drop off easily. Uhm, sadly not. I mean, I probably lost 0.5 - 1kg but that really has nothing to do with my non-rice meals, because of number 4 below
4. I didn't eat "healthy"
Although I know it's not true, rice to me was my "unhealthy" food. And so I imagined that not eating it for so long would somehow convert me into a healthy eater. I couldn't be more wrong. In fact my unhealthy habits got worse. I ate a truck load of more carbs - yam, bread, pasta - and worse of all, I ate way too many chocolates and sugary foods.
5. I still didn't eat Couscous
So my friend approached her no rice eating a little differently. She wasn't going to eat rice, rice substitutes or anything that was rice like. So she didn't consider bulgur or couscous.
I on the other hand was hoping to finally try couscous. I've seen some recipes that make it look somewhat appealing. But I still couldn't bring myself to attempt it. At least I ate bulgur and I realise that I genuinely like it and should eat more of it. It's very close to rice in texture - but fills me up faster so there's no way I could eat too much.
6. I discovered my "why"
I discovered why I eat so much rice. I don't think it's because it's the yummiest food out there. In fact, I might have come to the conclusion that it's overrated.
I've realised I eat so much rice because it's accessible. That's all. It's relatively easy to cook at home. And even if I'm not home, it's still accessible. Whether as Briyani, Paella, Malaysian Nazi Goreng Jamaican rice and peas, Mexican green rice, Japenese rice and curry, there's often a rice option!
7. Finally eating it felt like an anti-climax
So, here's how this whole thing was supposed to end. On Easter Sunday, I was going to prepare a kickass rice lunch, sit properly at the well-laid dining table with fork and knife in place and very thoroughly enjoy the meal. How did it actually go down?
I ate left over rice warmed very quickly in a microwave while sitting on the floor in my PJs (or truth be told PJ substitutes). I mean it was very tasty - it was Jollof rice made with dry fish that I had collected from a friend when we visited a week earlier. But it just wasn't how I had imagined this would end.
Well, even the best laid plans fail.
All in all, I hope this brings to end my unhealthy relationship with rice and I can going forward take more control - limit my rice eating days, refuse to salivate at gloriously prepared rice popping up in my Instagram feed and finally ignore rice dishes on a menu. I really do hope I can. Because it's only five days in and I've already eaten so much rice - for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner and in between these too.
Have you got any food or drink you consider to be in an unhealthy relationship with? Have you attempted to break away? How did that go?