For the past tens years or so I've flirted with the idea of organic and clean eating. A lot of us are familiar with the word organic thanks in part to the media and thanks in part to those who support the local farmers who provide such a wonderful and healthful option it is becoming more widely available. Cleaneatingmag.com explains clean eating as "Consuming food in its most natural state- or as close as possible to it. Its not a diet; it's a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation, leading to health, well-being and a lean look." It may seem too simple but it really is that simple to start getting your health in check!
I really took the idea of clean eating seriously after my mom died. My mom was healthy and fit- the exact opposite of lazy, but even she admitted that she could eat more fruits and vegetables. Who doesn't LOVE chips, pastries, ice cream and fried foods?! During the months that my mom had cancer I did a lot of reading on how our bodies work, why we get sick, how cancers can grow in our bodies and the things that we can and can't control when it comes to cancer. I cut out nearly all processed foods, I drank water like it was going out of style, I cooked healthy, tasty meals and even played with some meatless-meat options. I lost weight, possibly too much weight to be honest. This was compounded by the stress of my mom dying, helping my dad run their daycare, and planning a wedding. By the time our wedding day came I was 115lbs, the thinnest I had been since late elementary school!
Three years later I was happily married and pregnant. I indulged in anything and everything I wanted, except things that would "harm" the baby of course, no artificial sweeteners, no caffeine outside of warding off a migraine or two and I tried to eat things I would want to feed the baby. I gained 55lbs and a healthy baby boy. The day after Cooper was born I re-evaluated my food choices and revisited my interest in eating clean.
What I remembered from the reading I had done was that our bodies know how to keep us healthy, fit, thin - but WE need to listen to them and get back to basics. Our bodies are not designed to know how to process such highly processed foods. I often make the comparison of our bodies to cars. :) I wouldn't put anything but unleaded gas in my car, if I put diesel in my car it couldn't do what I wanted it to. When we fuel up our vehicles they only need a certain amount of gas to make them go, much like our bodies. You put too much in and don't use it up- where do you think it is going to go?
We need to eat foods that make our bodies do what we want them to; walk, run, laugh, shop! When we start filling them with junk (foods whose nutrition labels read like science experiments) our bodies will start giving us junk back in the form of fatigue, bloating, puffiness in our face, weak bones and muscles and migraines for example. One tip that has really stuck with me when choosing foods that are not purely natural like fruits, veggies and lean meats is the first five ingredient rule from Dr. Oz. If the first five ingredients include any of the following you should not eat them! Here we go:
1. Hydrogenated oil
2. High fructose corn syrup
3. Enriched flour
4. Bleached flour
Now, I understand if you read this and think it is impossible or that I'm crazy to think anyone could really eat like this. But think about it this way. Most processed, packaged foods are designed to stay "fresh" on the shelf for months or years. You are filling your body with preservatives. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, in other words the produce and meat departments.
"Are you eating for pleasure or function?" My brother in-law and I heard this statement one night from a man who very obviously was eating for function. He had biceps the size of watermelons, or at least cantaloupes. The point being- our bodies need certain things and run best when they get those things. "Those things" meaning REAL food. (Speaking of real, have you taken the real age test? It was pretty revealing when I took it a few years ago- go ahead, take it, you may be surprised at how old you really are! http://www.realage.com/ If you don't like the results, it will also show you how you can change it!)
By eating real foods you will re-train your body to work the way it was meant to work- efficiently. By supplying your body with small meals of healthy real foods throughout the day it will continuously burn calories and keep you fueled and energized to live the kind of life you really want to be living.
Back away from the vending machine!
I know, I know. It's 3pm and that caramelly Twix is calling your name through the vending machine window. Before you started being kind to your body you would have dropped in two quarters and enjoyed that candy bar, and a half hour later you would still be hungry and tired and looking for the next fix. But since you are prepared you instead reach into your desk drawer and pull out one of your healthy snacks instead! By keeping these types of snacks at your desk, in the car or in your purse you can avoid pitfalls like the afternoon vending machine raid.
I always have snacks like these at home or in the office.
1. Kashi bars (I LOVE Kashi- read their labels and you will too!)
3. Carrot sticks
4. A few slices of deli turkey
The more I learn about clean and organic eating the more I want to live my life that way and pass it on to Cooper. I want to give him the healthiest life possible. There is the argument that eating healthy is expensive- what is your health worth? We are the consumer, the more we eat real foods, the more they need to be made available. Check out a farmer's market, shop in bulk and freeze when on sale.
If you are rolling your eyes and saying that I've turned into a hippe dippie tree hugger just hang on a second. In my freezer amongst the frozen spinach and squash are several containers of frozen yogurt and maybe even some regular ice cream. No one said you couldn't eat ice cream or that cheese curds at the state fair are banned. What I am saying is that the majority of your eating and your life need to be clean and healthful if you want to give yourself the best. And who doesn't want that?