Eating Clean For Dummies

RealFoodNo one ever says, “Would you like some Skim Milk, Corn Syrup, Cream, and 0.5% of Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono and Diglycerides, and Vitamin A Palmitate, with a little color added to your coffee?” Why would they when you can just say, “Would you like some Fat Free Half and Half in your coffee?”

We don’t actually think about what we’re eating. Let’s be honest – if someone asked you if wanted to try “XYZ” you would probably say, “What is XYZ?” before eating it.

Today I stopped using Skim Milk, Corn Syrup, Cream, and 0.5% of Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono and Diglycerides, and Vitamin A Palmitate, with a little color in my coffee and switched to just regular old plain cream. Two months ago I gave up diet soda and fake sugar. Eight months ago I started trying to go by the rule of:  if I can’t read it, I don’t eat it. Toward the end of 2012 I did some reading on organic foods, processed foods and chemicals. I decided that I didn’t want that crap in my house.

It didn’t happen over night. I didn’t stop eating everything I couldn’t read over night. I finished what was in the pantry. I educated myself and I took my time. One thing I have learned over these 125lbs is that if I get too intense I lose motivation. If I slowly incorporate a few small changes here and there until it’s a habit I’ll be more inclined to stick with it. It takes 30 days for you to make or break a PHYSICAL habit. It takes about 90 days for it to be MENTALLY broken. There is a huge difference between the two.

Again, if I can’t read the ingredients listed on the back I do not eat it.

That’s it. That is my only rule. The rest is just listening to my own natural instinct.

What I learned is that most of the diet/light/fat free items are really processed and really crappy for you. If it’s fat free, it’s probably been jacked up in the carbohydrate section and you can’t read half of what the ingredient list says. Some of the Lean Cuisine/Healthy Choice items have nearly 50% of your sodium intake for day in them, if not more.

I needed to do my own version of “eating clean for dummies” because there are a million different forms, types, ways, rules and theories on eating clean, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Between the whole eat 6 meals a day, get X amount of protein, hit your Macros, etc. I got frustrated and lost, and ultimately defeated. So, I made my own version and it works. I eat when I’m hungry, I know I need protein to stay full, I balance my meals, listen to my body and use my Weight Watcher points to keep my portions in check (because I like volume.) I eat whatever I want, as long as I know what it is. All of those things are following one simple principle: I’m listening to my own intuition and following my gut. You know when you order something crazy when you go out and you try to justify it with, “But I deserve a cheat meal” or “I ran a 10k this morning, I’ve already burned off this bottle of bourbon, box of double stuff oreos and 3 bags of pizza rolls. Don’t judge me.” You know when you’ve had too much and you feel like everyone is looking at you, judging the fat girl for that one last bite. But what I don’t know is anything about  macros, or honestly, wtf that even is. I’m not eating clean because I’m some hulk all up in the gym trying to walk sideways through the door. I’m eating clean because my body and mind feel better when I do. I don’t know how many grams of protein I eat. I don’t count my meals or juice or detox or make crazy shakes full of crap I’ve never heard of.  I don’t have a list of rules I try to keep straight. I don’t have cheat days or cheat meals because if I have a crap meal or make a crap choice I balance it back out at my next opportunity. (Last night I had a huge meal celebrating my dad’s bday. I was stuffed after. I knew I ate too much. I knew I felt like crap. Hell, I had a headache and was asleep by 830pm. Today,  I tracked my points and moved on. I’m back to eating clean and my body is thanking me.)

I try to eat 80/20 – 80% clean and 20% life happens.  I still have bourbon and I occasionally make crap choices. The difference is now I know what I’m doing and I can feel it when I do.

Do I always get this right? God no. but I try. I can’t control all of my surroundings, but I can control what I buy and stock my house with. Giving up diet soda was the hardest in the beginning. Two months later? It doesn’t even sound good. I’ve also noticed that I don’t crave sweets like I did now that I’ve cut out the fake sugar.

Don’t get it twisted though, you are NOT guaranteed to lose weight when you know where your food comes from, though. If your gut tells you to eat 78 pieces of dark chocolate because it’s healthy – you know damn well that’s not the right decision to make. It’s still calories in vs. calories out. It’s still about portion control and moderation. I would almost say it’s harder to lose weight when you eat clean because you aren’t having the diet/fat free/crap products. My coffee has gone from 0 points to 1 point, from 20 calories to 50 calories, but at least I know what I’m eating.

Going organic/clean CAN be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. I use the Dirty Dozen List and I buy in season. Most of the grocery stores now have organic sections, too. I buy my grains in bulk (brown rice, bulgar, quinoa, couscous, barley) and shop the sale. I stock up when I can, especially when things are BOGO (Buy One Get One.) I also Shop on Amazon’s – Deals in Grocery and right now they are having their Shop Amazon – Save Up to 25% Off Back to School Grocery Essentials through 9/15. (Can you say YUM? I love the KIND bars.) **I’m working on a list of groceries/typical weekly menu in our house to post soon!

Initially – I was going to post another recipe today, but then I stumbled onto this blog and I remembered that feeling of being overwhelmed in the beginning and that I really didn’t know how/what to do. I hope that maybe this has simplified some of the nerves for anyone starting a new way of eating.

Find the gray in your journey- nothing is black and white.

So, what are your thoughts on eating clean? I’d love to hear them!


***Bottom left is the documented ingredients in Fat Free Half & Half, for you non-believers.

12 thoughts on “Eating Clean For Dummies

  1. Clean eating is great. I like to think of myself as a “partial” clean eater, but still eat a few things here or there with long ingredient lists. Like you said, 80/20.

    Those frozen meals are terrible, but I remember years ago being on the WW Flex plan and it was just easier to nuke a low-point meal. Now I feel that it’s worth the effort to get fresh fruits, veggies, and other whole foods as I’ve grown accustomed to prep time, the taste is so much better, and my body thanks me for it. 🙂

  2. That’s one of my few complaints with WW is that all of their products are still crap for your body. All of their snacks and products they sell in their actual meeting locations are high crap food. It’s so frustrating. Their snacks are high points because of the sugar/carb content, not because you’re fueling your body with protein/healthy fats. GAH! lol

    Thanks for responding! 🙂

  3. Does WW still sell those fruit flavored sugar free chews? I haven’t gone there since probably 2006, but I would be curious to read the nutrition info on those suckers. I used to eat them all the time and they’d upset my stomach. But I’d still eat them because they were sweet and super low in points.

  4. I have never heard that mental habits take 3x as long to break as physical ones! Interesting perspective and somehing to ponder. I, too, have just started a clean eating lifestyle and loving it so far. Thanks for sharing.

  5. For me, living alone has made it hard to quit processed/pre-made. I’ve learned that if I HAVE to have that Lean Cuisine, I better add a cup of steamed broccoli. Always add some fresh veggies.

    I’d also point out that studies aren’t conclusive yet because it’s too soon in the processed foods industry, but many many MANY doctors believe that all that processing causes all kinds of diseases, from high blood pressure to diabetes to various cancers. I mean, the list of diseases is RIDICULOUS. It’s basically everything except AIDS.

    I promote as-close-to-scratch-as-you-can-get, and I’m pretty good about it, I think. Diet sodas is another story…

  6. Yeah, I do think it’s easier for me because I’m not just cooking for one.

    I’m sure studies will show the effect at some point; however, cutting out the crap and seeing the difference it makes personally was as much research as I needed.

  7. Yeah, I learned that in college and it was really interesting to actually digest when I started breaking so many horrible habits I’d lived for so long. It was easier to conquer knowing that it was all me after those first 30 days. I couldn’t blame it on chemicals or anything.

  8. Pingback: An open apology, my ass | Damn girl, that's a lot of fattitude

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