By Justine Harman
Photo by Elle
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a “foodie.” I don’t know the difference between a good steak and a great steak. $9 twist-off wine tastes fine to me. I think Special K Red Berries is so delicious that, honestly, I just can’t keep it in the house. As a result of my indifference-or what some people have suggested are just weak taste buds-food does not play a huge role in my life. I do not have a running list of restaurants that I must try; I can’t give you an awesome dim sum recommendation in the West Village; I would never wait in line for a Cronut, a cupcake, or a slice of pizza.
But just because I don’t have exquisite taste in cuisine doesn’t mean I don’t think about food. I think about it a lot. Questions that take up a lot of my mental energy include: Am I eating too much? Am I eating enough? Is this as healthy as I think it is? Was there too much salt in that? And because I work out a lot, I am even more confused about portions and hunger cues. Sometimes I am blindingly, rage-inducingly hungry when I wake up in the morning; other days, I can’t stomach anything until lunch. But instead of going with the flow-eating what I want when I’m hungry-I have read about, and test-driven, too many diets to ever go back to an effortless relationship with food. Some part of me knows that I’m destined to live my life devoting way too much mental energy to food math: calculating calories, subtracting calories burned, multiplying so-called binges in my head until it all conflates into a series of ????.
This struggle is something familiar to Danielle Duboise, 28, and Whitney Tingle, 27, the cofounders of the GOOP-endorsed organic, vegetarian food delivery service, Sakara Life. Founded in 2011, Sakara, which means “with form” in Sanskrit, encourages clients to stop obsessing. “It was founded on the principal that food is medicine,” says Tingle, the more soft-spoken of the two (both of whom could pass for models), who also says she once subsisted on the master cleanse for 12 days straight. “The convenience of our food is one of the biggest things. It finally lays the thought process to rest.”
Excited about the prospect of not thinking about food, while also eating freshly-prepared meals beloved by models such as Lily Aldridge, Erin Heatherton, and Karolina Kurkova (not to mention Lena Dunham, who was snapped carrying the brand’s signature black tote bags recently), I rid my refrigerator of the wilting bags of mixed salad I never seem to use, Justin’s almond butter (my kryptonite), and an old bottle of white wine.
Related: The 8 Best Food For Gorgeous Skin
The next morning, when I open my front door, there is a freezer bag full of two days worth of colorful, curious-looking meals. My breakfast that day-morning oats with yellow pear and rose petals-is so filling that I’m not able to finish it. I love the texture, sticky and thick, but am a little weirded out by eating actual flowers. Honestly, they taste a lot like perfume (go figure). Lunch, a green salad with some of the richest and most savory dressing I’ve ever had, is a total treat. Dinner, a small serving of stone soup, which I’m instructed to garnish with wild sage and mushroom croquettes, is my least favorite of the day. After two meals that delivered that big chew mouth feeling, a brothy soup with health pellets is less gratifying. Small preferences aside, each meal in my 30-day program (5 days a week, no weekend delivery) delivers a noticeable boost of energy; no matter how much I eat, I never get that too-full feeling; and though I’ve spent my whole life eating meat, I never miss it once. Turns out, for a texture eater like me, beets serve as an admirable substitute for most types of salad proteins or patties.
After four weeks of eating proper breakfast, skipping cafeteria sushi and turkey burgers in favor of ayurvedic curried lentils and sweet potatoes or “rockin’” ratatouille with brown rice, and noshing on red beet burgers and winter sun salads for dinner (but still drinking/brunching on the weekends), I’ve lost four pounds. But more than the perceived physical benefits-my lower abdomen is no longer distended, my skin is radiant and clear-there are other perks to my new lifestyle. Without the stress of planning, procuring, or repenting over food, I am noticeably less anxious. On days that I think ahead and parse out my generously sized salads, I am not once tempted by office sweets. Being free of that deceptive devil on my shoulder, the one who promises that this red velvet cupcake has life-changing properties, is silenced. And I relish the quiet.
It’s been over a month since I completed the full-time, $410-a-week program (though I am on the less-expensive breakfast/lunch option this week) and I still think about the Sakara lifestyle. And though I’m still struggling to live by the mantra on their site-“If you are eating a diet full of healthy, clean, natural foods in the right proportions, your body will find its optimal weight”-I’ll never forget what it felt like to forget about food.