Eating Clean: Getting Started

Friday, January 23, 2015

I hope you are here because you are ready to make some changes to your diet. Figuring out what to eat was such a challenge for me when I started my fitness journey. I can attest to just how overwhelming it is (It can be so intimidating that you might be tempted to throw your hands in the air & quit. Trust me, I've been there! )

This book changed my life lol
Breath easy... I have some tips to help you make this a smooth transition

What is Clean Eating?

The approach is eat cleaning is a lifestyle that focuses on eating whole foods, in their natural state. (Think about what your great great grandparents ate. Cheetos were not part of their diet lol) 

Some basic principles to follow: 

The DO List
  • Eat 6 small meals a day
  • Eat Breakfast within an hour of waking up
  • Eat a combination of lean protein, complex carbs & healthy fat at every meal
  • Drink Plenty of Water (Rule of Thumb: Your body weight divided by two will give you an idea of how many ounces to drink a day)
  • Plan and prepare your meals ahead of time
  • Adhere to proper portion sizes
What to AVOID:
  • Avoid all processed foods (especially white flour and sugar)
  • Avoid chemically charged foods. If you can't read the ingredients on the label, eliminate it. You are not a science project ;)
  • Avoid all preservatives and artificial sugars
  • Avoid sugar loaded beverages. If you are addicted to soda, transition to sparkling water. Over time, your taste buds change I promise
  • Limit (or avoid) alcohol intake. 
  • Avoid Fast Food
  • Avoid calorie dense, nutritional void foods. 

When making changes, it can feel like... "Well heck! What CAN I eat?"
Don't worry. You have free reign on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein and healthy fats (like yummy avocado).
There is such a wide variety available to you, but it might not be familiar territory yet. That's ok. We'll get you there!

This is your chance to branch out, try new recipes, and maybe you'll discover you love something. For the longest time, I thought sweet potatoes were disgusting. I don't know if it was the color...or because I've only seen them at Thanksgiving...I but LOVEEE them now. So be open-minded in this process. 

You should NOT feel hungry or deprived.  If you are eating correct portions, you will feel satisfied (not full) after eating and you'll be moderately hungry before it is time for you to eat again.
You might experience sugar cravings at first, but these will dissipate over a few weeks.

Remember, it's ok to treat yourself on occasion. Just be mindful that it is a treat meal...not an entire treat day or week. What helps me stay on track is planning my treats.
If I know we have Date Night on Friday, I will save my treat until then. Mentally I have something to look forward to!  Make it part of your prep & keep things in moderation. If you choose to have some cake, don't eat the whole cake. 

Getting Started

  1. Load up on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. If you are looking for convenience, I love frozen foods (NOT Healthy Choice frozen meals! lol) What I mean is...Costco sells an amazing variety of frozen chicken, veggies and fruits. Pro Tip: Always check the label to make sure they are adding an ingredients. If you buy frozen broccoli, make sure the label only says "broccoli". Frozen fruits often have sugar added so opt for the package without sugar. 
  2. Clean out your fridge and pantry. You might discover you have a lot of expired items lurking in your pantry. Purge all of those and start checking labels.
    Foods that contain ingredients that are not “clean” or that you cannot pronounce, need to go. You can throw them out or donate them (you can even take them to work). 
  3. Make a grocery list. I like to plan my meals ahead so I can buy in bulk for the week or month. For example, pantry items like quinoa or rice can be purchased in bulk to save you time and money on your next trip.
    Build up your spice variety as you go. Spices can be expensive but they go a long way so maybe just get a few each trip.
     Here is a great shipping list for beginners.
  4. Schedule your Shopping & Prep Day Don’t under estimate how much time it takes to prep food. Try and get your grocery shopping done early in the day and get right to prep when you get home. I like to buy lots of veggies for stir fries and do all the chopping on Sunday. If you have ever made fajitas or stir fry, you know that it takes about 30 minutes just to cut up all the veggies. That is a lot of time to spend during the week after a long day at work. Having meals ready to 'Heat 'N Eat" has saved me on many occasions especially when I worked a long, stressful job before becoming a Beachbody Coach.
    I prefer to cook my chicken in bulk. If you make a batch of it on Sunday, you can use it for salads, wraps, etc throughout the week.
    (Note: To preserve freshness, I cook meat on Sundays and Wednesday. You can also freeze foods (even your chopped veggies) to ensure great taste when you're ready to cook)
    You can also make a large batch of quinoa or rice to use throughout the week.
  5. Pack your Meals. If you work out of the home (or you are always on the go), I love Tosca Reno's method of packing a cooler! You can store your meals for the day alone with some ice packs. It makes your food accesible and limits your (ahem...excuses) for not eating healthy. 
  6. Be patient with yourself. It's a lot to take in. If you feel overwhelmed, make one new adjustment per week. Slowly eliminate foods that are on the no-no list and start adding new foods into your diet. Start with substitutions like greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise and cut out the soda and fast food. This is your lifestyle so you need to change it at your own speed. Some people are able to do this in one fail swoop and others need baby step their way along. Small changes are still changes so you will be on the right track.
You've got this! While it might feel intimidating now, you will adjust and it will become second nature. Eating clean is a lifestyle change- not a diet that you stick to for a couple weeks. SIDE NOTE: People who are very accustomed to processed foods have a difficult time with (i.e., don’t like the taste of) the natural flavors of real food. They will say "I don't like vegetables or anything that is healthy."

Don't despair! Over time, your taste change and your body will start to crave the good stuff!  

Once you get acclimated you will feel so great that you can't imagine eating processed foods that make you feel sluggish!
Figure out what works best for YOU. This is not a one size fits all.  I used to hate going to the grocery store or stepping food in the kitchen...but now that I know what to's actually become enjoyable (and there is a certain pleasure in knowing you are taking care of your body).

You'll do great!!

Check out recipes and grocery list ideas