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After receiving a massive amount of interest from my last post on clean eating, i decided it was time for a recap on all things ‘food’ on my blog. I have had numerous messages, emails, posts and comments from women all over the globe reaching out to know more about my diet. What do you eat? What is a wholefood? Where can i find out about clean eating? I don’t know where to start? I want to stop dieting once and for all! I felt like that post triggered a lot of interest because… well, we’ve forgotten what real food is. We’ve been trained to believe that to be healthy and lose weight, we need to be on some sort of diet. That’s through no fault of our own, our brains have been somewhat washed by some very big and clever marketing giants that represent some of the world’s major brands. Trust me, i’ve tried a LOT of them. But as i reflect upon my many years of dieting there is also a clear picture of how i (and my body) felt being on them.
I suffered from bouts of anxiety, my skin would flare up, i’d have severe bloating and digestion issues, I was told my thyroid was playing up, my weight would constantly fluctuate (while i was on this diet rollercoaster, i was around 10kg heavier than i am now), i couldn’t handle stress at all, my mind was fuzzy and i felt like all i ever thought about was what i should and shouldn’t be eating. It was exhausting stuff!
When i had my kids, i realised i couldn’t be on a diet forever. I also couldn’t ‘workout’ the way i used to. I didn’t have an hour a day to exercise, i didn’t have an hour a day to spend in the kitchen and i didn’t want my kids thinking it was ok to drink ‘shakes’ all day or binge every afternoon! I guess having kids has really put me in my place. I didn’t have just ‘me’ to look after anymore – i had three little people standing at my feet in the kitchen every day asking for food. I needed to set a precedent for myself and my family.
As you know, i started strength training and high intensity interval workouts when my twins were around 6 months old and over time, have adapted my own 15 minute workouts to suit my busy schedule. And, they work. They’ve given me strength emotionally and physically, they’ve lowered my body fat levels, they energise me and i have some serious fun working out with my kids every so often. BUT (there is always a but right?) i wouldn’t be able to do those workouts or have sustained energy if i didn’t EAT properly. And, as i’ve said over and over – i believe in 80% diet and 20% exercise. It works for me – an average stay at home just looking to feel healthy and fit.
So – what is clean eating? To me, clean eating means consuming foods that haven’t been tampered with by man. They are foods in their WHOLE state (wholefood) created by nature. Food that comes from the ground, the sea or a tree. Yes, it’s similar to a Paleo style of eating. However, Paleo restricts all grains and dairy and i have found with my own personal experience, that my body enjoys some grains and some dairy. In saying that, I do believe reading up a little about the Paleo style of eating if you want to try clean eating, it seems to sum it up nicely and also shows there is plenty of science behind it in terms of sustained weightloss and the link between food and the prevention of disease and illness. I am NOT a nutritionist. In fact, i failed science at school so i’d probably never pass a nutrition course. Everything i write on here is based upon my own personal experience and my experience with food is one i love to share.
Most of you associate the name Pete Evans when it comes to Paleo. And, I do believe his research and work is some wonderful stuff to read as an introduction to eating clean. It gives you the fact and science behind stripping your diet of preservatives, refined sugars, chemicals and additives that are found in most commercial foods today (and i believe are part of the reason certain diseases and illness are becoming more prevalent – and cause behavioural issues in kids). So, do some of your own background research into the Paleo style of eating and you’ll get a fair idea of what clean eating is. Pete’s website and books are a great start. I kicked off a six week ‘clean eating/paleo’ challenge and these are the foods i cut out of my diet:
– Refined sugars, grains, dairy, alcohol, processed and packaged foods (that also includes sausages, sandwich meats, pre-made sauces, salad dressings, canola oil, butter, jams, soft drinks etc). If i picked up an item in the supermarket and it had more than one or two ingredients in it, i didn’t eat it. If it had words in the ingredients list that i didn’t know, i didn’t eat it.
So, what did i eat?
Lean proteins – red meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, natural protein powder
Good fats – natural peanut butter, raw nuts, avocado, coconut and olive oils, coconut creams and milks, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nut milks etc.
Nature’s carbohydrates – every single fruit and vegetable you can think of. Yes, i eat fruit and i don’t have a problem with it. I eat bananas and yes, i eat potatoes.
Extra cooking products – some of my cooking staples are tahini (crused sesame seeds, great on top of a salad or through a stirfy), cacao powder (raw chocolate powder), herbs and spices (dry is fine… chinese five spice blend, garlic powder, cumin, chilli, curry powder etc), apple cider vinegar, tamari sauce (instead of soy) and pure maple syrup.
There are plenty of “Day on My Plate” ideas on my social media pages that show what i ate for breakfast, snacks, lunches and dinners. In those six weeks, i had one ‘treat’ meal per week (note, a treat meal, not a treat day!) and i’d have a few glasses of wine to accompany that meal. I think doing that once a week is important for consistency and i still do it now. Sometimes, two treat meals.
Yes, i found those first 6 weeks challenging, but i got through it and by the end of it – there was no turning back. I felt and saw excellent changes. I became quicker at food prepping and by the end of it – it didn’t take as much effort as the first few weeks did. I felt like i was in a routine with it all.
I kept up that way of eating for a few months, but then i hit a bit of a wall. I felt like my body needed some grains and a little dairy and so i implemented them back in slowly and found a great happy medium for me.
Here’s what i implemented:
– WHOLEGRAINS (so grains that are whole…. not bleached and stripped of their nutrients). I like brown rice, quiona, rice cakes, oats, rye bread, spelt and rice pastas, spelt wraps etc)
– DAIRY While my skin and stomach doesn’t agree with cow’s milk, i can happily enjoy a full-fat sourcream, normal cream, natural yoghurt and some organic butter. All of these forms of dairy are almost in a natural state. I have almond milk in my coffee (1-2 per day).
There are plenty of ideas on my channels that show what a day on my plate looks like now!
My tips on being consistent:
– Make foods that you and your family enjoy. There is seriously a clean eating recipe for almost every commercial recipe out there. Think spaghetti bolognese (use spelt pasta or zucchini noodles, make your own tomato based sauce), pizza (try a cauliflower base or spelt base) and add a cashew cheese sauce with some dallops of sourcream on top, a satay chicken stirfry (make your own satay sauce, blend some natural peanut butter with tamari, maple syrup and water), load up salads with some home-made dressings, make ice-cream by blending and freezing banana!
– Remember that it may take a few goes before you actually really ‘enjoy’ a clean meal. Your taste buds have forgotten what real food tastes like. They need time to adjust to the new flavours and when they do, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do it sooner! (I used to eat flavoured ice-creams and chocolate like it was going out of fashion. I eat it now and it honestly tastes like chemical [email protected] My taste buds don’t recognise them as food anymore!)
– Have sweet treats and enjoy them! Just make sure they are refined sugar free and clean! I have a slice of my peanut chocolate slice every day or one of my protein peanut butter balls. There are so many wonderful and FREE recipes out there for clean treats and desserts. Put your research googles on, print them out and make up your own family favourite recipe book! When you learn how to put certain ingredients together, you become a bit of a whiz in the kitchen again!
– Cut back on alcohol to the weekends and even then, try to stick to no more than three drinks at a time.
– Make an EFFORT to spend some time in the kitchen cooking from scratch. I know we are busier than ever before, but remember your grandma’s cooking? Even your own mother… they loved cooking for you. Make up some pre-made sauces and store them in your freezer, get a few quiches in the oven, bake some kids muesli bars or cookies (again, plenty of free recipes out there)!
– Yes, my kids still enjoy a Toy Story yoghurt sachet, a packet of chips or an Uncle Tobys muesli bar – but NOT every day. They are treats and they are darn expensive treats if you ask me! My kids mainly snack on fruit, natural yoghurt sweetened with pure maple syrup and berries, cacao chocolate balls, rice cakes with avocado, brown rice sushi, paleo pancakes or (my son’s favourite) a chunk of cucumber (great for soothing the gums when teething!). If it’s a weekend and i want to make some traditional cookies as a treat – i make them myself rather than buying them.
– Enjoy the SUPERFOODS out there, but just keep it simple. I love all of the wonderful super foods out there on the market today and while i do enjoy acai berries/bowls, goji berries, cacao powder – i also think an apple and a banana , a plate of meat and three are also superfoods! Keep it basic.
– Start training yourself to READ ingredients on packets of food. Pick up that commercial jar of peanut butter and read what’s in it. Pick up that cereal packet and see if you can pronounce all of the ingredients, ask yourself why some ingredients have “numbers” allocated to them for some sort of code? If you don’t know what the ingredients are, don’t buy it. In saying that, there are some great food brands out there now that offer some great”products” in packages and i believe our major supermarket chains are introducing them more and more. You’ll often find most them in the health food sections.Obviously organic options are also better for you (as they haven’t had any chemical intervention at all. Ie- most fruit and veg are sprayed with chemicals in this day and age), but unfortunately, they are expensive. I’ve tried to go all organic, but as a family of five trying to run a family business – it’s not cost effective for us. I do however wash all of my fruit and vegetables in water and apple cider vinegar before placing it in the fridge.
– Focus on what you CAN eat, rather than what you CAN’T! Rally up support from family and friends and surround yourself with people who encourage, uplift and assist you!
– Know that some days will be tough. You’re only human! But put a plan in place to deal with those bad days. Broken sleep, hormones, unsettled babies and tantrum throwing toddlers can throw your routine out of place pretty quickly. Allow that to happen, but don’t let the days spiral out of control. Try and see those days or moments as reason to consume even more CLEAN foods as they will help with your mood and energy levels! If you become unstuck or caught out – that’s ok. Just don’t let that moment turn into days of eating [email protected] Because, it’s so much harder to get that motivation back. Once you’ve started eating clean, you’ll soon notice after a month or so that your motivation to keep it up kicks in. Your mind becomes clearer in the process and you can see the bigger picture a lot easier!
For those of you reading this post, i’m also going to let you in on a little secret. I will be launching a private Stay Strong Mummy Club Facebook group VERY soon. I’m bringing my go-to holistic food coach and personal trainer Victoria Jane Fitness on board and the two of us will be able to talk to you in a more private, intimate environment. I will only be allowing set numbers through this group so that i can manage it properly without mass numbers! This will be a paid group, but the foundation discount price is less than $10 and you get a lifetime membership to it. You’ll be able to ask questions about all things health, food, fitness and family and the two of us will be sharing our experience and facts (well, Victoria will share the facts. She’s better at science than me!) So if that’s something of interest to you, stay tuned.
SO – i hope that sheds some more light on my experience with clean eating and gives you a few ideas to get started yourself. A lot of this information has been previously written on my blog, but i’ve thrown a rope around it once again and put it all in this one space.