When I first started Eating Clean, I, like most, took what was said to be extremely literal, that I had to eat this and that lean meat, this vegetable but not that, always and forever, amen.
What I’ve learned is that with only a few guidelines, you can go crazy and do what works for you. The proteins, the carbohydrates, the fats. Make sure you get enough of them, without going overboard. That’s it.
To newbies, that usually means something like oatmeal for breakfast with egg whites every morning, chicken or fish and vegetables and some rice for lunch, hummus or nuts and fruit + veggie sticks for snacks, and some sort of veggie/meat combo for dinner. Then comes the boredom.
What I now know, is the variety of flavours, tastes and textures is immense. I also now know that I don’t have to eat animal products with every meal, in order to get enough protein.
All grains, so long as their whole, are considered clean. All vegetables and fruits, as long as they’re just the fruit or veg and aren’t processed, are clean. All nuts and seeds, so long as they’re raw at the time you purchase them, are clean. Animal products, as well, can be clean, if they follow the same rule of thumb—nothing added to them before the time of purchase.
For me, the form that Clean Eating has taken, is that of a flexitarian. I don’t eat animal products with every meal, nor do I eat them every day. I eat as wide a variety of fruits and veggies, grains, nuts and seeds as I can, because I’m interested in getting in all the macro AND micro nutrients our bodies need, rather than worrying about getting a certain number of fat grams, protein grams, or carbohydrate grams. Every once in a while I’ll track what I’m eating, to make sure I’m still on track, and I can tell you that even for things like protein (I know you’re wondering!), I’m getting in around 60g of protein in a day.
My life isn’t about frantically making sure that every single tiny little morsel of food that I consume is super clean either. I don’t want to have to think about and break down every single item, how it’s going to affect my weight, etc etc. In short, I’m not prepared to spend my life on a diet. I just make sure to eat the vast majority of my meals as clean meals. That’s where the flexibility of Clean Eating comes into play.
Sometimes, I’m participating in something which isn’t necessarily going to be all clean. Say I’m going to a BBQ this weekend. Do I fret about what the food might be, worry that I might be tempted by all the unclean food, count macronutrients and calories in the average BBQ menu item, and figure out how much I can (or can’t) have of each thing, then spend the next week on the scale, thinking I’m bound to have gained weight just by being in the vicinity of unhealthy food?
No. I have a life, and I live it. I choose to not be so focussed on these things constantly, because I’ve learned that it’s no way for me to live my life, and it drives me CRAZY to do it! LOL
So what do I do? I eat a wide variety of clean, healthy foods, the majority of the time. I make sure I get exercise, sometimes in an organized workout, and also with just keeping moving.
I enjoy delicious clean food (as I type this, I’m finishing a lovely bowl of fruit salad made with pink grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries and raspberries, and I’m making chicken stock with the roast chicken I baked yesterday, which will make a mostly-veggie chicken and barley soup tomorrow), and if I want that birthday cake at a friend’s party, I have it.
Finding the version of Clean Eating that works for me, has made it all so much easier. I've collected many recipes over the years, and at the end of each week, I decide which recipes I’m going to make for meals for the week. Then I make them.
I eat out about once a week, and I don’t worry about it. So long as I don’t go hog wild and eat a pound of lard or something, it’s fine. One meal out of 35 won’t make a difference, just like on clean meal out of 35 SAD meals won’t make a difference. J
I now know that it doesn’t have to be complicated. There’s no fear of carbohydrates, fruits, or fat. It’s just food. It’s delicious and wonderful, but it’s not the enemy. Just find what works for you by experimenting with new foods, get in as much variety as possible, and ENJOY it. Food is a huge part of every living things life. Enjoy yourself!
If you’re interested, the recipes I’m making next week are as follows. The ones with the (2) beside them are the dinner one day/lunch the following day recipes. Planned leftovers!
Buffalos Have Balls Not Wings (2)
Pizza (entirely home-made, even the crust—there’s a great recipe for crust on Clean Eating Mag’s site—it’s a Chef Jo recipe) (2)
Roasted chicken and vegetable soup with barley (2)
Spicy Shrimp and Polenta Medallions (2)
South Indian Curried Veggies (2)
Breakfast Banana Splits (from cleaneatingmag.com) (however many I eat lol)