Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eating Clean with a Side of Dirty

For awhile now I've been saying that I need to focus on what I'm eating.  It's been over four years since I started to live a "healthier" life.  A lot of my attention was focused on exercise, reducing my portion sizes and cutting out pop.  I dropped fifty pounds and have kept it off (give and take a few fluctuating pounds!).  But I've been stuck for several years and have felt like there was more I needed to do on this healthy living journey.  The thing that has been staring me in the face is what I am eating.

Should I go gluten-free?  paleo?  clean?  low-fat?  no carbs?  strict calorie count?  some type of shake?  I've always had an excuse as to why I haven't made a decision and declared my eating style.  I don't have enough time.  I don't understand all of that science mumbo jumbo.  I know me - I'll make a big announcement and then in a few weeks barge into Gateway Grill and inhale a pizza all by myself then I'll collapse in a puddle of guilt. So rather than making any type of decision, I've just ignored the topic.

Over the past several weeks I've taken the time to read several articles and blogs about these various eating styles and tried some new recipes.  I've come to my conclusion: Why do I feel the need to declare myself as anything?

I have seen many people make declarations that they are going one way or another only to last a week or even a month before going back to their old eating habits.  I've also seen people who have made drastic eating changes and stuck with them - but will it last forever?  Plus, like I mentioned earlier - I know me and I know my life.  I need room for flexibility and moments of weakness (aka guilt-free stress eating) and simplicity.  To put myself in a specific box would just be a disaster.

On the flipside of this discussion going on in my brain, I do know very little about nutrition.  If I want to make changes to my eating habits, I am going to have to have some guidance.  So while I'm not going to make any declaration about following a specific eating style, I am going to take some specific and purposeful steps to surround myself with knowledgeable people to continue to learn from and guide me.

Here's who I'm leaning on:

1) The Positively Fit U facebook page (which I absolutely LOVE - check it out for inspiration! posts encouraging reminders about making healthy choices.  I need those daily reminders!  I was browsing the page for information and came across two statements that hit home for me:
When I eat like crap, I feel like crap.
It's all about creating healthy habits rather than restrictions.

There is great truth to the fact that I simply need to make good choices.  In most cases it is very clear - a handful of almonds is better than bag of chips.  Water is better than pop (even diet!).  A bunch of sweet grapes is better than a handful of cookies; however, satisfying a sweet tooth craving with one cookie is better than struggling to resist the craving and then caving a eating the entire bag of cookies.  I don't need to know all of the nitty gritty facts in order to make healthy choices.

2) Out of all of the eating styles I looked at, Clean Eating was my favorite.  The recipes are SO good and simple for me to follow.  I don't always have the time or money or honestly the desire to hunt for and purchase some of the purely natural ingredients so I tell my family that we are eating clean with a side of dirty. For example, I made apple nachos the other day.  The recipe called for melted natural peanut butter and melted dark chocolate chips.  I had neither in my pantry, so I simply used Jif peanut butter and chocolate syrup.  Not purely clean, but still a yummy healthy snack!  I've been making myself "clean" breakfasts and lunches while preparing 2-3 "clean" dinners for the past few weeks.  Very yummy and I have noticed a big difference in how I feel.  Pinterest has a TON of recipes and I've been following He and She Eat Clean on facebook (  I share my favorite recipes on my facebook page so check it out -

3)    My friend Dana is a dietitian and a FABULOUS support for me!  She loves to talk about eating healthy.  Her lunches at work are a great example of eating healthy.  And she is very encouraging.  I love to bounce ideas off of her brain!  Is there a person in your life that you can talk with about nutrition who knows what they are talking about (that person doesn't have to be a registered dietitian)?  If not - find one!  You can also check through your health insurance or your work's Employee Assistance Program.  They most likely have benefits involving some type of nutrition counseling.

4) My family - getting them on board has been quite the challenge, but they are slowly going along with trying some new things.  I keep reminding myself that they are one of the main reasons I'm focusing on the food we're putting in our mouths! 

Bottom line - I'm buying less cans and frozen foods and preparing more fresh foods.  The taste is better.  I feel better.  Hopefully I'll start to see some re-newed progress on the scale.  And I'm having fun trying new things.  Sounds like a step in the right direction to me! 

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