KICKSTART YOUR JOURNEY TO IMPROVED HEALTH WITH A LOOK INTO CLEAN EATING AND JOIN ME ON AN ADVENTURE AS I EMBRACE EATING HEALTHY FOR 30 DAYS!
I feel strongly about clean eating. Meaning, I stand firm in my belief that we should be consuming only natural, whole foods. Foods perfectly designed to provide us with nutrients to nourish our bodies.
But as much as I’m a strong believer in healthy eating, I often fail. For starters, I’m particularly fond of sweets. Cake, cookies, ice cream, anything chocolate. As if that isn’t enough, I have a soft spot for a glass of bold red wine or pint of beer and those ever-so-delicious Mexican martinis.
Oh, and my employer feeds me. Lots of food and snacks. Not to mention three types of desserts… every day.
I repeat. THREE types of desserts e-v-e-r-y day.
So as January arrives, I find myself making promises I pray I can keep. To eat (and drink) clean for 30 days. I’ve successfully done this before—I have faith in myself. Although, facing temptation is never fun. Or easy.
Maybe you’re on the same path to clean eating. Perhaps you would love to rid your body of toxins, eliminate processed foods and sugars, or lose [insert number] of pounds. If so, join me on this journey to 30 days of clean eating for a renewed you!
What is clean eating?
Clean eating is the practice of consuming healthy foods. And yep, you’ve got it—eating less of the unhealthy options. It means incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet. I like to think of clean eating as enjoying natural foods you’d find in the wild.
I’m open to eating a bit of dairy (organic milk and cheese) as well as certain grains (oatmeal and Ezekiel 4:9 bread). However, depending on your goals, you may want to reduce or eliminate your intake of dairy, grains, and gluten altogether.
Essentially, clean eating means consuming whole foods, like:
- Whole grains
- Healthy proteins and fats
And reducing or eliminating unhealthy options, including:
- Processed foods
- Added sugars
- Refined carbohydrates (bread, white rice, pasta)
Why clean eating for the new year?
Why am I going clean for 30 days? And why January?
Through trial and error, I’ve discovered I’m partial to all-or-nothing when it comes to cleaning up my diet. For example, if I simply try to reduce the amount of chocolate I eat in a week, my conversations with temptation look like this:
Chocolate: Eat me.
Me: I can’t. I ate a mini cupcake at lunch.
Chocolate: That’s okay. I’m dark chocolate. I’m healthy for you.
Me: Okay, but just one square.
2 minutes later…
Me: Okay, just one more square.
2 minutes after that…
Me: Okay, just one more square.
See the pattern here?
For me, eliminating all unhealthy foods helps keep me on track to reach my diet goals, improve my overall health, and shed a few pounds.
As far as the 30-day clean eating commitment? I figure 30 days will allow me to feel and see results from my efforts. At the end of these next 30 days, I’m not planning on completely reverting back to old ways. In fact, I’m considering extending the challenge, making minor adjustments if needed, in hopes of adopting clean eating as a lifestyle.
So why January?
In my opinion, December is a terrible month for starting a diet plan. You’re talking residual food from Thanksgiving, cookie baking for potlucks, and friends and family dishing out fudge and brownies left and right. Then, there’s New Year’s Eve.
To reduce delicious distractions like champagne flutes and bubbly, I opt to start eating clean on January 2nd. This also allows me to celebrate the holidays and indulge—guilt-free.
Moreover, eating clean beginning January 2nd allows me to prepare before summer strikes. You know, bathing suit season and all of that. To top it off, the month of March initiates quite a few family birthdays and special occasions that call for celebration—and cake. So for me, it’s best to enjoy healthy food options before a spring sugar coma.
Find what works best for you. For example, if you know you’re able to resist holiday nibbles, then by all means, begin clean eating in December! I encourage you to follow a plan that suits your lifestyle and ambitions.
The diet plan
Once in pursuit of the clean eating lifestyle, it’s time to develop a diet plan! Think about the foods you want to avoid and eat more of, plan out each meal based on your goals, and create your shopping list before arriving at the grocery store.
A couple of years ago, I ate clean for almost three months. Unfortunately, the day I decided to say goodbye to clean eating, I’m pretty positive I ate at least 35 fun-size candy bars within a two-hour time frame. For this reason, I’ve decided to allow myself a weekly 4-hour window in which I can eat and drink whatever my heart desires. Most likely, this time will fall on Friday or Saturday.
I know, this doesn’t quite fall into the all-or-nothing I spoke of earlier. But to help me keep sane, I think it’s the best option. Essentially, I’ll be super strict except for those few hours each week, so for me, I still view this as my all-or-nothing mindset that gives me best results.
Now typically, I eat a balanced diet with a decent amount of fruits and veggies, but I still could use some help with eating more off the good stuff and less of the bad. So outside of this 4-hour time frame, I’ll stick to a set plan and focus on eliminating, eating less of, and eating more of some specific foods outlined below (in addition to the foods I’ll avoid based off overarching clean eating guidelines).
- Added sugars (primarily desserts and sweetened coffee drinks)
- Bread and chips
Eat less of:
- Coffee (from ~2 cups to 1 cup per day)
- Milk / half and half (means more black cold brew coffee for me)
Eat more of:
Tracking your calories
In the past, I’ve used MyFitnessPal, my go-to fitness app, to track calories and nutrients. Since I haven’t tracked calories in quite a while, I’ll begin the month tracking to help me understand where my calories are coming from.
Tracking calories is a great way to better understand exactly what you’re eating. For example, nuts. It’s so easy to eat several servings of nuts in one sitting. So to guarantee I’m not consuming 500 calories in cashews, I’ll use a food scale (like this one on Amazon) to measure out each serving.
Using a calorie tracker app also tells me if I’m not eating enough calories. The first time I embraced a clean eating lifestyle, I was consuming 200 calories less than my body needed. By faithfully inputting meals and snacks into MyFitnessPal, I discovered this shortage quickly and was able to adjust my diet accordingly.
Clean eating end goals
We’ve reviewed why I’m opting for clean eating versus simply eating less of certain foods. But is there anything else I hope to achieve within the next 30 days? Besides becoming a healthier version of myself?
I would love to lose a few pounds. Frankly, I’d love shed 10 pounds. And this number would in fact be a little less if I didn’t overindulge throughout the entire month of December. Since losing a set number on the scale isn’t what I should really be after, I’m primarily interested in whittling down the inches on my hips and thighs, which is where I tend to carry my weight.
And if I’m being really honest, I hope to kickstart the process of reducing cellulite and overall fat so that you can see more muscle definition. Is this too much to ask? 😉
I hope to see good results at the end of January—considering I stay steadfast and keep focused. Watch for an update in the upcoming month, as I plan to share my results and experience!
Are you following a clean eating plan to reach your diet goals? What changes have you made to your diet that push you towards success? I would love to hear your challenges and victories on the path to improved health (mind and body!).