I am sure that most of you are familiar with "clean eating", or at least have heard about it at some point. Just like any health journey, there are always questions and a learning curve. What may seem complicated in the beginning, hopefully will turn into lifelong habits.
I am not a fan of diets. Diets don't work. Their main purpose is to change the number you see when you step on a scale. We don't really need scales to know that we are over or under weight, fit, fat, or anything in between. Weight management is an important part of our well being. But, when our motives for eating certain foods becomes all about the number on the scale, the focus is no longer about pure fitness and healthy living.
I will never hide the fact that I love food. I like to eat. I love sweets, pastas, and carbs of any kind, really. I will also never lie about the fact that I do eat these foods. What I DON'T do is LIVE on these foods. Just like anyone, I go through periods of gluttony, but they are phases that never make or break me.
So here's the deal with clean eating...... The good news is, it isn't complicated. Eating clean doesn't have to be boring, and it doesn't have to break the bank. Here is the general rule. If you can't kill it or grow it, don't eat it. It's that simple. You've heard the "shop on the outside of the box" saying before, I'm sure. If it has a long shelf life, don't buy it. Dairy is considered "clean", but the lower the fat content, the better it is. Butter? Actually, it's clean. But it is a saturated fat so go easy. Why is butter clean? Because it's churned cream, which comes from unpasteurized cow's milk (basically milk fat). Don't misunderstand. Saturated fat is not a healthy fat, but we need some of it in our daily diets. The point is, it is of the earth, and that's what we are looking for in "clean' foods. If it is overly processed, the ingredients list is going to be a mile long, contain trick words like "other ingredients", or "artificial flavors", or words you can't pronounce or identify. I wish I could give you a list of everything that is considered to be "clean", but that would be a monster of a list. Organic is always the best choice, no matter what you are buying, but that isn't always affordable, or available. The closest it is to it's natural state, the more clean it is.
So how do I eat clean, enjoy my favorite foods, and still stay fit? Balance! My goal is to allow myself 1 guilt free, or "cheat" day per week. I would love to have 6-pack abs and less fat on my body, but as long as I indulge as I do, that is unlikely to ever happen. What I desire the most out of my lifestyle is quality of life, so that is what I live for. It's up to you to decide for yourself what you want out of your efforts. Everyone is different, but if you decide to live a clean lifestyle, you will not regret it. Just like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes my 1 day of cheating turns into an entire weekend. But I never let it go any further than that, unless I'm on vacation:).
Once you get started on clean eating, you will find that you do not want to eat junk anymore. And when you do, it's not EVEN as good as you hoped it would be. But I believe that indulging 1 day per week keeps me sane. I'm still in touch with the things I love to eat, keeping me from feeling deprived. As long as you know you have a free day coming, it makes it easier to stay committed. It is amazing how much more energy you will have, and just how much better you will feel.
I believe that if you know the McDonald's menu by number, if ice cream is a nightly late night snack, there's no fruit or veggies in the house, you're all stocked up on chips and soda, and you have no clue how many calories you consume in a day, it is time to make a change! It's time to pay attention. I always recommend myfitnesspal.com as a food journal. I have tried dozens of different apps, and this is still my favorite. If you like another one better, great! Use it! The point is to keep track of what you're eating so that you see what you need to change and you have accountability. If you are going to eat it, you are going to have to log it in your food journal!
If you are looking for some good "clean" recipes, I really like thegraciouspantry.com. I wish I was a better cook, because I would so make just about anything on that website. It all looks so good! And it's healthy! And it can help you take the guess work out of whether it is or isn't clean. And as always, if you have questions for me, my email is lacysfitnessblog.blogspot.com and I'd love to help you get on track!