If I could survive on a steady diet of cookies and hamburgers I probably would.
Some days it seriously takes all I have in me to avoid the crappy food, get more color on my plate, and just eat cleaner in general. I don’t really have a problem motivating myself to exercise, but like they say, you can’t outrun a bad diet.
I don’t know about you, but for me it takes a conscious effort and some planning to stay on track when it comes to trying to “clean up” my eating. When I fail, the guilt and shame (and extra pounds) start to set in, and I shape up again.
If this cycle sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent study found that Oreos were just as addictive as cocaine (in lab rats, anyway)!
So what’s a girl to do?
The first step to clean up your eating is to avoid processed and refined foods and incorporate more whole, natural foods into your diet.
Sounds simple, right?
Simple, yes, but no one said it was easy.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but if you can focus your efforts and eat cleaner for just one week at a time, you’ll better your body from the inside out before you know it.
How to clean up your eating – start here:
This is my suggested weekly plan, but of course, you can do it in the order that feels most natural for you. Add on one week at a time until you get it down. Don’t forget your workouts along the way!
WEEK ONE: Add color to your plate. Add real fruits and vegetables to every meal. Plan ahead for this by going to the farmer’s market or grocery store and stocking up for the week. The more color on your plate, the better. You can also sneak some veggies into your favorite dishes, like soups, sauces, or your favorite stir fry. Try this for a week, then continue to the next step and add on.
WEEK TWO: The fast food ban. Stay far away from the drive thru window this week. Plan your schedule so you don’t get stuck with nothing to eat while you’re on the road, in between appointments, etc. Eat more meals at home around the family dinner table, or if you are running around town doing errands or being a chauffeur to your kids, pack your own to-go meals, and don’t forget to include snacks for yourself – and the kids, too! When you’ve succeeded at this step, it’s time for week three.
WEEK THREE: Cut out liquid sugar. It’s time to substitute that diet coke for some H2O! If you are a regular soda drinker, this may not be easy at first. You may even get headaches, but this is your body’s way of cleansing itself and it will only last a few days (aren’t our bodies amazing?). After week one and two, you are already equipping your body with better nutrients, so washing it down with some fresh water and cutting out sugary drinks is exactly what you need this week.
WEEK FOUR: Go for whole grains. Lowering your intake of refined grains reduces your risk for many chronic diseases. This week, try to incorporate as many whole grain swaps as you can. Instead of white bread, go for the 100% whole wheat. Rather than regular enriched pasta, opt for the whole grain version. Change out your white rice for brown, or at least try a half-and-half combo. On to week five. Quinoa, anyone?
WEEK FIVE: Become a label reader. The whole idea of clean eating is to reduce your consumption of highly processed foods, and if you are following this weekly plan, you are probably already reading labels (or buying more foods that don’t even have labels), but this step is still good to note. If you must buy a packaged food, select the one with fewer ingredients, preferably ones you can pronounce, and stay away from hydrogenated oils or fats, and high fructose corn syrup.
Ingredients vary from brand to brand, as I wrote about in this post. Even so-called healthy foods can be deceiving (after all, a gluten-free cookie is still a cookie), so getting in the habit of reading food labels is good practice.
So there you have it. In just five short weeks you can see a huge transformation in not just your eating habits, but the way you will feel as a result.
You’ll feel rested, build up your defenses against disease, regulate your digestive system, and maybe even lose a couple of pounds along the way.
Yes, you’ll probably get hit by that struggle bus now and then (you and me, both!), but even if we succeed at just a small portion of this list, that’s still a win in my book!
Next up: Portion control!
Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.
~ Proverbs 17:1
Do you have the same struggles as I do when it comes to clean eating? It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones!
In this thing with you, to your success and beyond,