Last Saturday, I embarked on a new eating adventure: I cut out all processed foods. This includes basically any food that comes in a box or package [with the exception of brown rice and quinoa] or tastes delicious. It’s all about eating whole foods that are organically grown without anything fake added. It’s wonderful and awful. Let me tell you all about my experience.
Why did I do this? I have been eating on the unhealthy side lately. It’s summer and I’ve adopted my ‘eat ice cream every day’ mindset [which, there is absolutely nothing wrong with], but I felt like I needed to take action to clean out my system a little bit. I have been putting processed food and sugar in my body nonstop for the past couple of months, so a cleanse was in order. But because I don’t believe in the type of cleanses where you only drink maple syrup/lemon juice concoctions for 5 days, so I went a different route.
How I did this. First of all, I had to give myself a giant pep talk. As a lifelong addict of sugar, I had to really convince my brain and taste buds that this was a good idea. But it was something I really wanted to do so I opted to just try it for 7 days. 1 week out of 52 weeks in a year – I should have the discipline to skip the sugar and the doritos. That was the first step. Next I had to do a little research and figure out what’s clean and what’s not clean. Anything in its natural state is whole – fruits & veggies [organic!], free range/organic chickens and turkey, natural cheeses [certain kinds…it’s confusing], whole grains/whole wheat [no white flour!], quinoa and brown rice [along with other grains that I haven’t tried yet!] all natural peanut/almond butters, whole nuts [my faves are almonds and walnuts!], pure honey, pure maple syrup, flax, oats, eggs [organic], greek yogurt, chia seeds, raisins and spices & herbs. I was delightfully surprised at how many foods are clean and on the ‘yes’ list! Next, I found recipes, because I felt like I would be more successful if I planned out my meals. I came across a great clean eating blog called The Gracious Pantry that has many delicious clean eating recipes. And then I went to the grocery store, which took forever because I had to read all of the food labels before I bought anything. I bought tons of fruit and veggies, brown rice tortillas, brown rice, quinoa, ground turkey, and greek yogurt. And then, I just did it. I cooked the meals, ate raw fruits and veggies as snacks instead of cheezits and ice cream. I packed my entire lunch the night before to make sure it was ready to go every morning. Instead of snacking when I got home from work, I worked out and blogged. I kept the temptations as far away from me as I could [this was difficult, as my husband brought back giant bags of doritos and cheddar/sour cream ruffles from his camping trip].
What I learned. Clean eating is both difficult and easy. Easy in that if you buy the right meat and veggies, you can eat almost anything. Seasonings/spices are all clean [as long as they are pure and did not undergo any processing or added ingredients] as are fresh herbs [which taste so superior to the dried]! The difficult part is pretty obvious – so much of our food is processed. And eating processed foods is often much more convenient. And while I don’t think processed food is toxic or poison like most nutritionists [and Gwyneth Paltrow] do, it’s a great idea to seriously limit our intake of processed stuff. I also learned that I have more willpower than I thought I would. In all fairness, I did eat cottage cheese because it’s a great low calorie/fat snack with tons of protein. Cottage cheese isn’t 100% clean, but I made the exception. I also ate popcorn that I popped myself with clean eating- approved oils and a pinch of salt instead of seasoning. Which I’m not sure is really allowed, but I did it anyway. And the thing that I think surprised me the most is that the meals are very filling. I didn’t get hungry between meals as I usually do, which made it so much easier to skip the unhealthy snacks!
My results. I didn’t anticipate a huge weight loss after only 7 days, but I have to admit I was disappointed in my body results. I started feeling bloated after 3 days on the plan, which I thought meant I was eating too much salt. My mom said that the bloated feeling is completely normal after a few days, as your body is working to get rid of the bad stuff. But when I woke up on the 7th day still feeling bloated, I was upset. I expected to feel at least the same bodywise, not worse. However, I noticed a huge improvement in my energy levels throughout the day – even after lunch! I am used to being sleepy from about 1-2 every afternoon and the foods I was eating kept me alert and focused all day. Without any caffeine. Amazing! There was also the fact that I was so proud of myself for doing it that I got a little boost of good feeling 🙂
There are some people who would read this and think – wow, you went 7 days of clean eating, big effing deal. But as a sugar-holic, living with a junk food-holic, this was a big deal for me. I feel like I eat really healthy about 80% of the time, but the 20% of the time when I wasn’t eating super healthy was giving me some mental and physical trouble. It was an exercise that gave me a lot of mental empowerment, even if I didn’t see the desired physical results. I think next time I will try for a longer period of time and try some new foods that I was too scared to try this time around! But I absolutely learned so much and feel like it is something I will try to do every few months!
Do you have any clean eating recipes/stories to share?!