Before I kick off today's 'getting started' post, I'd first like to share with you my definition of eating yourself clean... Now I know that for some of you eating 'clean' probably means eating completely raw, natural and entirely unprocessed foods. Yes? Well, if you have the money/time/taste buds for that then by all means stick to that definition (I would if I could!). However, if you're on a tight budget like I am, can't give up certain foods, and don't have the time to make your 'processed foods' from scratch, I've found that you can make compromises here and there and still reap a heck of a lot of clean eating benefits along the way.
Why I don't eat entirely raw:
Aside from the, I'll admit, rather trivial reasons that I've already mentioned, my main reason for not eating entirely raw is due to my own bad/failed experiences. I am not advising or even suggesting that you shouldn't try eating raw, because I know that for a lot of people becoming a raw foodist worked out perfectly. For me personally though, eating entirely raw meant that all of the toxins that had been accumulating inside my body for years on end were very suddenly brought up to the surface, trying to escape my body all at once! I became tired (well, more tired than normal), nauseas etc. but the most noticeable thing of all was that my skin started going haywire to a point where the scarring still hasn't faded. I also noticed that whilst eating raw my desire to binge eat was intensified x 10,000... In hindsight, I probably could have avoided all of that if I had just eased myself into the lifestyle gradually, but since I didn't I had to pull back and re-evaluate before starting afresh on a slightly different clean eating path.
What eating clean looks like for me: (Warning: I may use terms and phrases that sound a bit uneducated, but that's because I'm only telling you what I know personally and not regurgitating something that I've read from a book.)
- Eating as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as I feel like. Fresh is best, but frozen is still good.
- Eating a variety of lean meat 3-4 nights per week. My favourites are pork loins (with the fat removed), roasted chicken breast, and turkey or pork mince. I still eat lamb about once a fortnight, and occasionally some beef, but I generally try to keep my meat intake as lean as possible.
- Only eating a single serve of carbs each day (e.g. 2 slices of multigrain bread, 1/2 cup of brown rice, 1 cup of rice pasta or 1/4 sheet of pastry). I'm not so strict that I include starchy vegetables in my limited carb intake as the nutritional value of these vegetables is of greater importance to me, however I do try to eat less starchy vegetables as much as possible.
- Not drinking milk. I could go on and on about this subject for days, but basically milk just makes me sick. It's hard for me to digest, it flares up my tonsil stones, it makes me all phlegmy and gross, and I think it tastes disgusting. I also react that way whenever I eat soft cheeses like fetta and ricotta (which sucks, because I love fetta and ricotta!). I tried replacing the milk I once used in my morning porridge with alternatives such as almond milk, but I hated the taste of those alternatives even more, plus they were filled with tonnes of added sugars. Which leads me to...
- Being best friends with greek yoghurt. Yep, you heard me! Greek yoghurt has helped me out so much throughout my clean eating process as it provides me with the calcium that I'm "missing" by not drinking milk (I know that I can get calcium from other foods like vegetables, but if you tell your doctor that you're still eating yoghurt they shouldn't criticize you for giving up milk). It's also packed full of protein (perfect for days when I'm not eating meat) and acts as a great substitute for less healthy dairy items like sour cream. My favourite way to eat Greek yoghurt is with half a cup of oats and a teaspoon of organic maple syrup mixed in (hello porridge replacement!). Greek yoghurt is also the perfect way to satisfy dessert cravings as it can be frozen or mixed together with yummy fresh fruit to give yourself the illusion of eating frozen yoghurt or ice cream. :)
- Only using 100% raw butter, olive oil and coconut oil for cooking/baking. I flat out refuse to eat margarine (get that toxic garbage away from me!) and try to avoid vegetable and sunflower oils as much as humanly possible.
- Not eating processed spreads. 100% organic honey, peanut butter and home made jam are ok every once in a while (like when I use them in baking) but I definitely don't feel the need to smother my toast in them every day.
- Avoiding ALL chocolate. I once fell into the trap of allowing myself to eat a couple squares of 85% organic dark chocolate at night, but my sugar addiction kicked in and so I had to give up dark chocolate as well.
- Drinking lots of water, and ONLY water, all day long.. and peeing every 15 minutes as a result! Hello hydration and goodbye headaches! :)
My tips and tricks for starting your own 'Eat Yourself Clean' journey:
- Eating clean means eating fresh, or at least as much as possible, therefore I'd highly suggest doing your grocery shop at least once a week. Even if you prefer to buy your meat in bulk (assuming you have the freezer space), you should still aim to be purchasing fresh fruit, vegetables, breads etc. at least once per week, and preferably from your local farmers market where the produce is normally all organic.. and usually a lot cheaper! ;)
- To help you with your ever constant water intake, you may want to consider purchasing a large metal drink bottle (that can hold around 1L) as this will keep your water cool during summer, plus you won't have to worry about the drink bottle degrading from the heat like a plastic water bottle would.
- If you think that you're going to have trouble drinking only water for the rest of your life (which I personally don't mind at all), I have heard that drinking red wine, green tea and black coffee are all fine in moderation. If you're craving fruit juice though, make it yourself! There's always hidden sugars and additives in the fruit juices you buy from the supermarket.
- To assist your digestion, aim to eat your fatty animal protein at dinner time when you will have the whole night to digest this meal before your breakfast the next morning. If you're planning to have dessert after dinner, you might want to make that dinner a 'no meat' meal to avoid any unwanted stomach cramps during the night (eggs for example, would be easier to digest). Fun fact: You should avoid eating fruit and vegetables immediately after eating meat, as the meat can take up to 4 hours to digest, leaving those fruit and vegetables to acidify in your stomach whilst they await their turn.
- With this in mind, fruits and green vegetables are great to eat for breakfast as they take the shortest amount of time to digest (no more than an hour) and even less time if you blend them up into a smoothie! If your body can get the energy it needs without having to spend hours digesting food, you will find yourself feeling so much more energized and ready to face the day! If you're worried that easier digestion will somehow slow down your metabolism (it wont, but anyway..) you can always add cinnamon or even some cayenne pepper to your morning smoothie ritual.
I really hope that today's post has been helpful to you guys in some way, but if not, please come back for next week's Eat Yourself Clean post where I will be sharing one of my most requested recipes that I have posted on Instagram to date. :)
I would love to hear your thoughts on my tips and tricks in the comments section below!