What is Clean Eating?

Clean Eating Made Simple

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My history of “dieting” could be defined as “yo-yo dieting”. I was probably following any and every fad diet that ever came out. Remember the low-carb/Atkins diet? Yep, I was thinking that was the answer! Yes, I lost a few pounds, but eventually when I started eating carbs again, I gained all of the weight back. Our bodies need some carbohydrates! I was starving my body! If you haven’t read my story, please read it here. 

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I’d like to say that when I started eating clean over a year ago, that a light bulb went off and I instantly got it. Not true. It took some trial and error, but eventually it became my lifestyle. I’ve been able to transform my body and maintain my weight. Most importantly, I’ve become healthier than ever before and just feel so much better. For some, they’ll take baby steps and ease into clean eating. For others, they want to jump in with both feet. I was the jump in with both feet kinda gal. So, this is MY best explanation and plan for eating clean. Remember that everyone is different. You have to figure out what works for YOU! For those who want to take baby steps…start with REPLACEMENT—>click HERE for more info. 

I read a great analogy once: Think about how we, as a society, normally eat. What do we put into our bodies? Now think about how we treat our cars and plants. We treat our cars and plants better than our bodies! We wouldn’t put diesel in a gasoline tank or feed alcohol to our plants and flowers. But when it comes to our bodies, we put insane amounts of trash into our bellies. Even things that we know can cause serious illnesses…it’s time to change this.

Eating clean will not only rid your body of toxins, but it will give your body the nutrients it has been needing and allow it to function at it’s best, which means losing weight/fat! Chemicals that are added to our foods not only damage our bodies and cause imbalances, but they also spike our blood sugar levels and cortisol, increasing our chances of gaining weight (especially belly fat). Chemicals added to foods also tamper with our natural hormones causing weight gain.

Losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight is not hard once you comprehend what the body needs. It doesn’t involve a magic pill and it is not more expensive than what you’re currently doing. That is a common misconception. Once you start eating real whole foods and giving your body the nutrients it has been craving, cravings go away and you don’t need more food to feel satisfied. You will eat less in volume, so less money! Plus, you won’t be eating out as often and definitely no fast food which is very expensive for one person, let alone a whole family. When we eat “junk” or empty calories, we aren’t giving our body what it is telling us it needs. It needs nutrients to perform at it’s peak. So, you will feel full after the burger and fries, but only temporarily, because your body will start sending your brain messages that it is hungry again, because it didn’t get the nutrients it needed. Make sense? Once I started eating clean, I actually had to force myself to eat the 5-6 meals a day, because I just wasn’t hungry. My body was finally satisfied with what I was giving it. I had replenished my nutrients! I was also operating at peak performance while exercising. No more feeling worn out so quickly or exhausted throughout the day.

What is eating clean?

Eating clean is stripping your diet of nutritionally meaningless, processed foods and replacing them with nutritionally dense foods that are in their most natural state. I like to say, if it has a commercial, you probably shouldn’t be putting it in your body. You will be avoiding processed and refined foods and restructuring your diet around whole foods. You will be reading labels like a pro and very quickly what’s considered clean and unclean. Just think…what did our ancestors eat? If it is something they couldn’t have eaten, we probably shouldn’t be eating it. Everyone can have their own version of eating clean…so don’t think you can’t change it and make it your own 🙂 For example, when I make my Protein Pancakes, I love having my No Calorie Walden’s Farm Syrup. Some would say this is not ALL clean…well I love it, and I don’t eat it every day…so it is ok 🙂 Moderation is key. 

It’s a Lifestyle

Clean eating is a lifestyle and not a diet. I hate the D word. People are constantly asking me, “what diet are you on?” There’s no diet, but trust me I have been on almost any and every diet out there. There’s a reason those diets fail. Clean, mindful eating is the only “diet” that has ever worked for me and for many others. Clean eating is common sense. There are no gimmicks and no “market” making money off of clean eaters! Remember the Atkins fad? Not only have I transformed my body, but also I am so much healthier now that I am mindful about what I’m putting in my body. This is a plan that you and your family will be able to live by for the rest of your lives.

For some, switching to clean eating will be very easy if they’re already following a fairly healthy lifestyle incorporating whole foods. Unfortunately, for many, it will be a shock. Yes, you are going to have to cook meals! This was a shocker to me…I had zero cooking skills! This will be something you will learn to enjoy. I love coming up with healthy ways to make some of my favorite (non healthy) foods. There are so many great resources out there for clean eating recipes and once you see the substitutions they use for cooking these items, you’ll soon see what you can substitute to make your own favorite meals healthy as well! I also enjoy my grocery shopping! It’s seriously one of my favorite things. I appreciate the food I eat so much more now.

 

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DO NOT BECOME OBSESSIVE

Yes, we aren’t going to eat clean 100% of the time. That’s why I believe the 80/20 rule and that’s what Jason and I live by. We eat CLEAN 80% of our meals and the other 20% we indulge a little. By indulge, I don’t mean eating half of a cake. This might mean we eat clean all week and then Saturday night, when we go to a nice dinner, we allow ourselves to enjoy a few things we wouldn’t normally have. We don’t have an entire cheat meal! For example, we might each have a healthy entrée and split a dessert. We make sure with our entrees that we substitute any item we can with a healthier option.  I have learned, and so will you…that when you eat clean, your body doesn’t agree with processed/high sugar foods anymore. Eventually, your body will just stop craving those foods!

Clean Eating 101: The Rules

-Read the ingredient labels and nutrition facts on everything! – go HERE for my tips on reading labels

-Go through your pantry and throw out processed/unclean foods! – If you’re taking baby steps, you might want to start slowly, because you honestly might not have any food for your family 🙂

-If it has more than 5 ingredients, you shouldn’t eat it (there are a few exceptions)

-If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you shouldn’t eat it!

-Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The inner isles are mostly packed with junk.

-Avoid refined white flour, white rice, white sugar. Use maple syrup, honey, agave nectar or stevia natural sweeteners instead.

-Avoid ingredients such as sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors, excess salt or sugar.

-Get rid of your sugar addiction: that includes sugary beverages like juices and sodas (including diet)

-Drink more water! You should be trying to drink half your body weight in ounces. (130 lbs. = 65 ounces).

-EAT BREAKFAST within an hour of waking. This is VERY important! If you work out in the morning, have half your breakfast before and half after. If you normally eat a banana, oats and eggs. Have the banana before and eat the rest of the meal after. 

-Eat every 2-3 hours and try to eat about 5-6 small meals a day. <—this is important, ladies 😉 

-Do not go more than 3 hours between meals! This slows down your metabolism! I know it is hard to eat every 2-3 hours when you are at work, but try to purchase protein bars (Quest Bars) and have them readily available if you only have a small window to grab something. 

-For each meal try to choose a lean protein, carb, and veggie. This forces you to have a balanced snack/meal and keeps your blood sugar at normal levels, reducing body fat. The amount of each of these varies by person and their caloric needs per day. Most of the time I eat 4 oz. lean protein at each meal. 

-Avoid Alcohol, this derails your fat loss. Again, moderation is key. I suggest limiting this to 2 drinks/week.

Now, after you have understood the clean eating rules, check out the My Clean Grocery List.