I have to admit that I have always been lucky. I could eat pretty much whatever I want, exercise, and not have to worry about gaining weight. Therefore, I never really have watched what I have ate ever in my life. Well, time has changed. I’m not sure it’s because I’m in my 30’s now or what, but life is just not the same.
We ended this past month with a week of Spring Break and I realized that all I ate that week was junk. My diet basically consisted of fast food, donuts, coffee drinks, wine, & Easter candy. Yes, we were traveling and I had all the kids (plus one more!) for the entire week but looking back at it, I realized that it was pretty gross. I basically ate big amounts of sugar & more sugar and this, in the past few months, has started to become totally normal in my diet. I decided it was time for a major change. Time to really be more intentional about eating well & taking care of my body. So therefore, I decided to give up carbohydrates, added sugars, dairy, & alcohol for twenty days.
I read the Whole 30 book & am trying to follow this same plan for 20 days. Since we are heading for a family vacation in a couple weeks, I’m striving for my own Whole 20 so I can be done with the plan before our family trip begins:) I would love to do a full thirty days, but looking at my calendar for the next six months, there is no great stretch of time to implement a full thirty days of strictly eating clean with vacations, travel plans, & celebrations already in the planner. So, I decided I don’t have to do the full 30, I’m going to start now without one more excuse in the book. Twenty is better than zero, right?!?! Today, I am on Day Eight of my mission of eating clean and am proud to say that I am still clean! No chocolate after dinner, no creamer in my coffee, & not a glass of wine with my friends. This change has not been easy, but I am excited for this challenge that I am on and am encouraged enough that I am hoping to make a few long-term changes to my diet. I wanted to share some of the simple tips that have helped me so far if you ever decide it’s time for a Mission Eat Clean!
1. First, research your plan. I read the Whole 30 book & did a lot of research on the Internet reading through Whole 30 forums and posts from fellow bloggers who were or have been on a clean eating challenge. Reading their tips, tricks, & plans made it easier to plan my own.
2. Create a menu plan. I created a very general meal plan so when I headed to the store I was well prepared. This made shopping at the store a lot easier because I had a plan & knew exactly what I wanted to buy. My meals have been simple and easy because I am often cooking for myself & my family in a limited amount of time. Breakfast is often egg-based, lunch is often salad-based, while dinner is often protein & veggie based. Creating the menu made shopping a lot easier & kept me from buying a lot of things that I don’t need.
3. Read your labels. You will be so surprised when reading labels at the store how many products have sugar in them. There is added sugar in everything. I was that lady at the store that was reading every single label & almost every single product got placed right back on the shelf because it had sugar in it! Plan a little extra time at the store & be prepared to read those labels.
4. If you are cooking for your family, try to plan meals that are family-friendly. So far, I made a Whole-30 approved chili that both the kids & parents loved. We served the kids’ chili bowls with cheese & cornbread. Last night, I made a Whole-30 approved spaghetti sauce. I served their sauce on top of noodles, while I made zucchini noodles for myself. We also have had hamburgers on the grill several times. The kids have theirs on a bun, while my husband & I wrap ours in lettuce. By planning family friendly meals that we can all enjoy, it keeps dinnertime simple and easy and allows us to enjoy time eating together.
5. Find a buddy to do it with. I recruited my mom & husband to join the plan. Neither have been as strict as I am, but have been totally supportive and it’s good to have a buddy that understands how you are feeling and can offer some positive encouragement.
6. Find a few go-to snacks and stock up. The plan I am following is quite restrictive & does not encourage a lot of snacking. I have to admit that I do snack here and there still, especially if I exercise and can’t find time to fit in another small meal. So far, my go-to snacks include: Lara bars, plantain chips & guacamole, and dried fruit (with no added sugar). These three things keep me surviving when I just want to grab something to eat. Whatever it is, make sure you have on hand at all times!
7. You can go out to eat:) I actually went out last week with friends & ordered a steak with no sauce and a salad with no dressing. I think I was so hungry by the time the appetizers and bread passed by, but that steak was one of the best pieces of meat I have eaten in a long time! We also went out as a family this weekend to a local salad place where I could create my own salad and picked up Chipotle for dinner one night where I ordered carnitas, guacamole, pico de gallo, & lettuce. Just not cooking dinner for one meal was the biggest treat! Just research dinner options before heading out & be prepared to stick to your order when you arrive at the restaurant!
8. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with the necessary basics. I have replaced a lot of our condiments with new items that don’t include sugar or food additives. I replaced peanut butter with almond butter. I found unsweetened ketchup to replace the ketchup in our refrigerator. I made my own salad dressing & mayo. I made sure to pick up ghee to replace butter while cooking. I picked up olives, nuts, & sprouts to top salads with instead of croutons or bacon bits. These simple swaps are essential to making the plan work.
9. Stock your kitchen with any necessary items that you think you may need to be successful. After doing some research, I decided I would like three things from Amazon (thanks Prime!) to help reach my goals of clean eating: an avocado slicer, a spiralizer, & an infuser water bottle. I have used them all, even eight days in. If you ask me which one I am most thankful to have, it’s the infuser water bottle. It makes drinking water so much more exciting & keeps me hydrated and craving other beverages that I used to drink such as sweet tea or an iced coffee. I carry it with me everywhere!
10. Stay encouraged and positive about the overall change for your health. I have to admit this past week has not been easy. In the past week, I have felt more tired & had some major headaches, which I believe is because of the lack of sugar. I stand encouraged by several people’s testimonies about how this experience has been life-changing & am confident that this plan is for the best.
Again, all of these are just some simple tips that have helped me start this change in my life. I’m hoping to share some of my go-to meals and snacks in another post soon. I have been so encouraged by some of the changes that even after the twenty days are over, I am hoping to continue some of these changes into our lifestyle and am excited to see what lies ahead! For those who have experience, please share your tips & tricks with us and our readers. I would love to hear some feedback and suggestions and encourage one another on this exciting challenge!