clean eating challenge

Hi. My name is Lindsay and I am a sugar/carb addict. Can anyone relate?

I’ve always considered myself a fairly healthy person and eater. We always have plenty of veggies and fruit around our house, I stick to low-fat milk  and I try to snack on yogurt or almonds during the day. Try would be the key word there; there are also days where I snack on a nice plate of homemade nachos or graham crackers with peanut butter dipped in a glass of milk, seriously yum but probably not the best on the waistline or my heart. Then if you take it one step further and  really look at the labels in many of the easy go-to products you’ll see the crazy amounts of hidden sugar and other additives to make them low-fat or last longer. Maybe this doesn’t matter to you and for the most part, I’ll admit it doesn’t matter that much to me, usually I’d rather just stick my fingers in my head and say, “la, la, la, I can’t hear you” and pretend that it’s not bad for me. Just looking at the box of graham crackers for example: the first ingredient listed (meaning it is the biggest one) is unbleached, enriched flour and farther down the list is the big no-no partially hydrogenated oil.  How they can say they are “whole grain” when the first ingredient listed is white four and farther down the list is whole grain wheat flour I don’t know.  So, I’ve decided I want to try to make a big change and see if I notice a difference in energy and overall health and go without the pre-packaged stuff and all the sugar. I am setting small goals first – 7 days of eating clean and then hoping to make it to 30. Baby steps, folks. If it seems to be working and fitting in our lifestyle then I hope to just continue.

Will there be days where it doesn’t happen perfectly? Absolutely. That is part of life and I think looking at everything I’ve read about Clean Eating is that it’s a lifestyle rather than a diet (I hate that word anyway) and the goal is more to eat clean 80% of the time and then leave 20% of the time for goodies that aren’t necessarily “clean”. I bought two new books to help me in this process:” “The Idiots Guide to Clean Eating” (the highest reviews on for Clean Eating cookbooks) and “The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook” by Tosca Reno. So far I’m impressed with both – very easy to read, lots of valuable information on why Clean Eating is so good for your body, and the recipes look fantastic! Between those two books I’ll have plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner inspiration. I’ve also found as another online resource.

There is so much information out there that it’s hard to decide what’s right/wrong and good/bad and I went back and forth between trying a Paleo Challenge or a Clean-Eating Challenge. In the end I decided I liked that Clean-Eating has whole-grains and dairy included in it and thought it will be an easier transition to just work on cutting out the over-processed and refined foods (white sugar, white flour, white rice) at first and then if we want to cut the others out we always could. For the most part my kids are going to eat clean right along with when it works. I am not going to throw out all the graham crackers and gold fish (thank you, Costco) just yet but as we finish them I might look for alternatives from Trader Joe’s.

These are the Clean-Eating Principles:

  • Eat a small meal every two to three hours (5 to 6 small meals per day total) to keep blood sugar level and prevent hunger
  • Combine both protein and complex carbs at every meal (*Proteins are meats, cheese, beans, legumes, and nuts. Complex carbs are fruit, veggies, breads and grains)
  • Avoid ALL over-processed and refined foods (especially sugar, white rice, and white flour)
  • Avoid saturated and trans fat, instead consuming healthy fats (like avocados and olive oil)
  • Avoid ALL sodas and other sugary juices and drinks
  • Choose organic food whenever possible
  • Avoid high-calorie, zero nutrient foods (i.e., junk food)
  • Eat meals with proper portion sizes
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water every day

I’ve seen alcohol as something to stay away from while eating clean and I’ve also seen the occasional glass of red-wine as ok (antioxidants and all I guess). These seem doable to me. Now, keep in mind I read my “Complete Idiots Guide to Clean Eating” with the leftover bag of candy from Powells Candy Shop this afternoon — can you say oxymoron? So, I have a feeling it will be easier said than done but I like the principles. I liked reading all the recipes and knowing everything in them and thinking how fresh and delicious they sounded. And I’m interested to give it an honest shot and see if I feel a difference in energy and mood, according to many of the blogs I’ve read they do and that’s why they continue to eat clean. I know right now I will not be making a huge effort to purchase everything organic. If the price seems decent I will, but I am not going to break the bank to buy all our produce and meat organic.

Take a look at this . . .

This is the amount of food I should throw out/donate since it does not meet the Clean Eating requirements. The doors on my fridge look empty.

And this is from the pantry:

I couldn’t stomach the idea of throwing out that much food (and my husband would probably kill me) so I made a pile of canned goods I could donate and got rid of things that were almost gone and that we really hardly ate (all the salad dressings, syrups etc.) and the rest I’ll keep and we’ll use here and there. Does any of it surprise you? It was interesting reading the labels — did you know horseradish has high fructose corn syrup? I did not. I’ll admit this kinda felt good – my shelves are a little emptier and my fridge isn’t loaded with all those condiments taking up space.

Meal planning and grocery shopping this weekend and my goal is to start my challenge Monday. Here are some great ideas for what a day of clean eating might look like.

Anybody want to join me?


5 thoughts on “clean eating challenge

  1. Good luck! I’m anxious to hear how this goes for you. I’ve been trying to watch the hydrogenated oils and eat healthier all around. I’m not sure I’m ready to go all the way yet though!

  2. One thing I got out of my first week MOSTLY paleo was trying new and interesting foods. I had never stuffed a portabella mushroom before nor made a veggie dip from pureed walnuts. That I have really enjoyed. The part I have not is Buzz and I are both a little sick of meat. The cleaning eating sounds like a better option…still including beans and whole grains and DAIRY…i miss my glass of milk:) Keep up posted!

  3. Thanks girls! I think that’s what sold me on trying clean, Nicole – I know I couldn’t give up bread and dairy… but admire those that can! Those recipes sound yummy you made!
    Will keep you posted on how it’s going. 🙂

  4. “Now, keep in mind I read my “Complete Idiots Guide to Clean Eating” with the leftover bag of candy from Powells Candy Shop this afternoon — can you say oxymoron?” – Lindsay R.

    This quote = hilarious! And this is the point in the post where I think, “Oh Lindsay, I’ve DEFINITELY been there before!” Great post, btw.

    As you know, I am a fan of Paleo which to ME also means clean eating. And as I pointed out above I am nothing but perfect, so being a fan doesn’t always mean I am the perfect Paleo gal. I’m the girl who can’t keep her hands out of the corn chips bag and will occasionally have a oh-so-delicious milk shake 😦

    The grains aren’t too difficult to cut out. Well…maybe those darn corn chips….

    Next time you’re at the bookstore you should pick up:

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