Clean eating: It isn’t new, and it’s worth it.

The thing about the technology age is…. it’s easier to get information. Easier to “research” and easier to self-educate. It’s also what’s wrong with the technology age. It’s easier to find misinformation, because well… everyone thinks they know more than Joe Schmoe over there and vice versa. At the same time, it also gives new life (or a second wind) to things that have been around for quite some time *cough*paleo eating*cough*…

Which leads me into today’s blog. It’s one that I’ve been thinking about for a little while now. I’ve heard, especially as of late, people talking about the new clean eating thing. What is it? How do you do it? Clean eating, as any fitness buff knows, isn’t all that new. It’s been around for a pretty long time now.

I had a friend a few weeks back approach me with healthy eating questions. She was considering changing her eating habits into a clean eating, healthy lifestyle. Knowing that I’ve been in the clean eating boat for an eternity by today’s standards (along with being collegiately educated in food science and nutrition), she came to me. Once she grasped the basic concept of it, her complaint was “I’ll never have time for that!”

…just like what I hear everyone say as an excuse for not exercising.

And just like I say with that, I said to her: There’s always time.

Meal prep? She whines to me. I barely have time to make a bowl of cereal, how am I going to cook a week’s worth of food at a time? You make the time, I tell her. You make the time because not only is it worth it, but your body will be thanking you for it.

Sure, in the beginning it’s pretty daunting to get yourself in the swing of it. I will tell you this: It’s easier than becoming “paleo”, doing South Beach, Atkins, etc… Why? Because you’re not restricted. Clean eating isn’t a diet. Anyone who tells you it is, is an idiot. Clean eating is a conscious change that someone makes to live healthier. The foods are fresh and natural. Instead of twenty ingredients that you have to read over 50 times to read it right, and still can’t pronounce any of them properly — you get one ingredient. A pepper is a pepper. A carrot is a carrot. Instead of marinating a chicken breast in some sodium loaded, artificially flavored sauce, it gets marinated in fresh herbs and spices and tossed on the grill. Everything tastes better, because you’re tasting the REAL thing. Not some six-times-processed garbage.

Your body after just one week will thank you. After two, it will be doing jumping jacks and pushing you out the door to run in crazy circles of joy. After a month? You forgot why you ever thought leaving the boxed, processed goods behind was such a scary thing in the beginning.

I get that it’s not for everyone, which is why I never push it on to anyone. I don’t vocalize at gatherings my eating habits either. I just scan the tables of food for things that I can eat. If there isn’t anything there, I eat small amounts of a few things there, make mental notes of what it was I ate, then do what I call a clean eating detox for a few days after to get myself back on track because if I don’t — my body hates me.

Proof in point: Two weeks ago. I was trying to take photos during a Summer Solstice celebration in the city I live in of a 5-kilometer road race. Talk about disaster, trying to push my way through the crowded streets to the other end of the race to get photos of the top finishers. That’s a story for a different day though. Crunched on time and starving, I grabbed food there on the street instead of ducking into one of the several restaurants on Main Street. All day long I did it. And I usually have a weekend like this once a year, and despite knowing the result, I do it anyway. Two loaded cheeseburgers, a corn dog, fair fries, fried dough and 4 chocolate-chocolate chip cookies later… I was on my sofa, dying. Then that Monday, I was at my desk, dying. My body hated me, it was sluggish and my workout that Monday night was garbage. I had zero energy, and I lacked ambition to even drive home from work. Proof that garbage food makes you feel, well, like garbage.

On to the detox I went (or clean to the extreme as I’ve started calling it). Smaller meals and snacks, closer together and nothing but water to drink. Breakfast consisted of not my usual cereal, but a protein drink. A small snack followed an hour and a half later, then again an hour and a half after that. Lunch came at the same interval, and that too was just turkey/chicken/pork and a small serving of veggies. Two more snacks, then dinner, which consisted of another protein drink. Two snacks before bed. Get up and do it all over again. So went the cycle for seven days. No seeing those damn Special K Chocolate Delight Pastry Crisps and using them as my once a day “bad thing” (they are seriously my biggest weakness). The same thing, every day, for seven days. By the end of the first day, by body was weeping tears of joy. The third, I was back to killing my workouts. Fourth, I was back to being up before my alarm went off. At the fifth day, I was me again.

Now I’m back on my regular schedule of eating, back to consuming the full spectrum of clean foods, and that blip is just a distant memory.

Yes it takes dedication to clean eat. It takes dedication to make any lifestyle change. Once you start, you have to stick with it. After awhile, you need to stay with it. That’s why it’s called a lifestyle change.

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Mother. Photographer. Writer. Founder of Fit Fridays for Mental Health. Former powerlifter turned weightlifter. Coach & Nutritionist. Spondy/PCOS/Endo. Bully breed advocate.

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