Since I began clean eating over two years ago, I have had many people ask me about how I lost the weight (over 30lbs in four months' time). While I attempted to explain the principles behind clean eating, and shared various websites that I had used for tips and tricks along the way, what people REALLY wanted to know was how they could continue to eat the foods they loved and somehow magically lose weight.
Let's get one thing out of the way from the start: The problem is not the "How to," rather it is the "WHY." What is your motivation? If your reason is not strong enough, if you are not passionate about your "why," then you will likely stop making these changes when you don't see immediate results. However, if you are determined to change, regardless of how long that takes and what SACRIFICES you need to make, then you WILL succeed! And not just success according to the scale, but REAL, lifestyle change that LASTS. So, if you are willing to put forth the effort and stick it out long-term, let's continue...
If you are curious about the general principles behind clean eating, you can check out a previous post I wrote, which also contains a great sample meal that you can make for your family.
1. Whole foods, not processed.
2. Unrefined over refined.
3. Include a protein, carbohydrate, and fat at every meal.
4. Reduce fat, salt, and sugar.
5. Eat 5-6 small meals.
6. Don't drink your calories.
7. Exercise daily.
So, the first step to eating clean is making a game plan BEFORE hitting the grocery store.
Plan your meals.
In our house, because of our schedule and the fact that we have two small children who don't eat a ton just yet, I can get away with planning 3-4 meals/week. The kids eat cereal for breakfast and my husband and I drink our Shakeology and coffee each morning. For lunch, we are separated with work and school and eat in respective cafeterias or pack a lunch for the road. So, I keep some staples in the house for breakfast and lunch:
Cereal: I choose cereals like Cheerios, or Kix. These are not necessarily the "cleanest" out there, but they are better than most and have less sugar. Here are some ingredients you want to make sure to avoid at all costs (thanks to www.greenplaterule.com):
Lunch: Since I can't really control what the kiddos eat at school or at the babysitter's or what my hubby eats at the cafeteria at work, I choose to control what I can eat in my own lunch and steer my family on track for breakfast, dinner, and snacks. So no, we are not perfect, but we also believe in moderation. My lunch typically consists of a veggie omelet, made with 2 eggs, spinach, fresh mushrooms, and onion. I have at least 1 1/2 cups of veggies in the omelet so I get enough nutrients in. I always get organic produce, if it is available. The pesticides and GMOs are not worth saving a few pennies. I also make my own whole wheat bread in a bread maker once or twice a week so I can have a nice piece of dry toast with my omelet. Here is the bread recipe:
If I am working and on the road, I will pack things like an organic apple, whole almonds, organic carrots or pepper slices, hummus, two hard-boiled eggs, or protein leftover from dinner throughout the week. I make sure I pack enough for snacks and lunch so I can eat a little throughout the day and not be hungry.
Here are items we keep on hand each week:
Dinner: Again, since we don't eat a ton each night, and we have a weekly meal at church Wednesday nights, I tend to plan out 3-4 meals per week and we do eat leftovers. This is one way I can save money each week when I do grocery shopping. Meals like chili, soups, monster meatloaf, spaghetti casserole and things like that make a lot and can feed all of us 2-3 dinners.
So, gather the recipes you want to make and let's make a shopping list.
Here is an example of a family favorite recipe that I have revised to be cleaner and healthier:
Directions are the same:
Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, drain. Place into a buttered or sprayed 9x13 pan. Cook onion in a little butter until soft. Mix the onion into the sour cream and cream cheese. Set aside. Combine the cooked meat and spaghetti sauce. Pour half of the meat mixture over the spaghetti. Put the cream cheese mixture over the meat. Pour the rest of the meat over hte cheese mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Cover with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
The key is using ingredients that are closest to their natural state and have less than 5 ingredients on the label. All of the items in the clean recipe can be found at Walmart.
Another family tradition in our house is Saturday brunch. My kids LOVE pancakes, eggs, fresh fruit, and turkey bacon...and after a long run, so do I! Now, I realize that you cannot have a steady diet of these items, but I stick to one pancake for myself, a veggie omelet, and skip the bacon.
We also enjoy mixing up this recipe to add a few dark chocolate chips in each pancake, or mash a banana and add a dash of pure vanilla, or try adding 1/2 cup of pumpkin and a few walnuts! Another favorite flavor is blueberry! YUM! Just make sure to buy organic blueberries, as regular berries have high amounts of pesticides.
The idea of revising recipes is to use whole foods, and preferably organic ingredients when possible. You can still enjoy your favorite foods without feeding your body the chemicals that are so commonly added to our shelf foods.
Comment with questions or suggestions below!
This is a journey. I am still learning as I go, but I enjoy knowing that I am doing the best I can for the health of my family!
Wife. Mother. Runner. Coach. Adoption Advocate. I strive to share HOPE through my journey and help others reach their goals.