Have you ever heard of clean eating? Clean eating is more than just a diet, it is a lifestyle. What clean eating means can largely depend on who you ask but I would say most people agree that the foundation of clean eating is eating as "close to the earth" as possible. Your entire diet is made up of wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbs. Basically it is more of what it is not: additives, artificial coloring, mystery ingredients and artificial sweeteners.
I am bringing this up because I am going on a 7 day 100% clean eating challenge. I was recently inspired by my mom who took on this challenge for about 2 weeks as part of a spring/fall cleanse. Hearing how energized and lively she feels has definitely pushed me to take this on. I am jealous! I would love to have more energy, clear skin and bonus… maybe drop a couple pounds. Once you learn the basics, you'll find yourself making better decisions on a daily basis even if you don't fully commit to eating clean.
I have been interested in nutrition and clean eating for a while and already do a pretty good job monitoring what I eat. That is until Friday rolls around, we all deserve an end of the week Happy Hour. I don't totally break the rules on the weekend but I am much more lax. So this week from Monday- Monday, I am going to jumpstart my healthier lifestyle and eating 100% clean. It takes a lot of planning, prepping and cooking, which I don't always have time for. I figured 7 days would be a great challenge and will help to lighten my body's toxic load from all of the processed food.
Ok, let's get down to business and start with a few simple rules:
1. READ YOUR INGREDIENT LABELS. I can't stress this enough. Avoid "packaged foods" since it usually means it's man made (i.e. not real food). Even if you aren't interested in clean eating, read your labels. If you can't pronounce the ingredients do you really want to put them in your body?
2. Be willing to look beyond calories and fat. This will be hard for a lot of you to let go. Counting calories and grams of fat won't get you anywhere when it comes to clean eating. Take this for example: A typical medium sized avocado is about 240 calories. That is about the same as a jelly filled donut from Dunkin Donuts but the nutritional differences between the two are clear. Don't let counting calories be your guide when eating.
3. No processed or refined foods. That means nothing white! No white flour, sugar, bread, or pasta. I will tell you right now, eliminating sugar will be the HARDEST part. It's in everything! I use this trick of calling sugar poison. Example: when choosing a cereal at the grocery store, Ryan will say "Can I get XYZ cereal?" I respond with, "How many grams of poison per serving? Oh, wow. You can get it if you want to start your day with 16g of poison." Seems silly and it is, but it's helpful (for us).
4. Include meats. This probably differs between clean eaters. I am not interested in being a vegetarian however I do buy grass fed, organic meats from Whole Foods. If you don't have a Whole Foods near you, try a local butcher rather than just picking up packaged meats at the supermarket.
5. No dairy. I don't take in a ton of dairy but I will be completely eliminating it this week. Feel free to drink unsweetened almond milk though.
Don't be overwhelmed with "rules." It's ok to start small. It's easy to get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. Try to identify minor changes that are easy for you to make right away. This will help you feel productive and you'll also notice that even small, healthy choices will make you feel better at the end of the day. Simply packing your own lunch or swapping one unhealthy snack for a better option can make you see that healthy eating doesn't have to be hard (or gross).
For those of you who are completely new to clean eating and interested in learning more I highly suggest Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food or his simplified but still highly informative book, Food Rules.
This week I will be posting at the end of each day with my progress and meals. Feel free to check back for meal ideas and recipes. If you decide to play along with the clean eating challenge, I would LOVE to hear anything/everything about it, from successes to struggles, tips, tricks or meal ideas. Thanks and good luck!