Thursday, June 13, 2013

Clean Eating

In addition to my recent jump back onto the work-out wagon, Frank and I have been talking a lot about our food choices. From the first grocery shopping trip we went on being married we have been trying our best to eat as "clean" as possible. 

Clean eating means that you avoid all processed foods and fill your diet with whole, fresh foods instead. We have avoided buying frozen, pre-cooked foods aside from our black bean and veggie burgers, frozen fruit and the occasional  carton of ice cream. In our pantry we avoid things like crackers, cookies, and other dry snacks that are full of dyes, chemicals, and empty calories (calories that have no nutritional value). The only things we keep on hand in our pantry that aren't really clean is sometimes a box of crackers or pita chips for eating hummus, and the occasional bag of tortilla chips to eat with guacamole. Of course we've strayed at times from this diet. At times I've definitely picked up a bag of frozen chicken fingers for a quick dinner and I've definitely called Frank at work asking him to pick me up a package of Oreos on his way home when I'm craving chocolate...especially during high-stress exam seasons.

I've found that eating clean has not only helped us to feel healthier, but it actually shows when we do stray from our diet and eat something full of fat and chemicals our tummies usually get pretty angry at us. 

Eating clean also really helps our grocery budget. We only buy almond milk--no juice, no soda, no sugary drinks. Sometimes I'll pick up an iced tea mix if we know we're going to have company, but mainly we drink water, hot tea or almond milk. And by the way, cutting out cow's milk was one of the best things I did for my body and stomach. Also, have you noticed how expensive it is to buy a package of Oreos or Cheeze-its or any other snacky food? Expensive! For the same $3-4 you spend on those things you could be buying 2 packages of fresh vegetables, a package of chicken breast, or fresh snacks like cheese, apples or yogurt that will satisfy your hunger and also supply you with important nutrients.

Falafel Pita

Salmon with Avocado Salsa

By refusing to buy these extra things, Frank and I kept our monthly grocery budget at $300! Granted we are only two people, but that means in an average 4-week month we only spend $75 for groceries each week. Don't believe me? Try it! I challenge you. I put together a few things that helped Frank and I to "clean up" our kitchen. We don't eat 100% clean, but our goal is always to be as close to clean as possible.

**We are not certified dietitians and are only offering advice based on personal experience**

Clean up your Kitchen:
1. Take a look at your pantry and refrigerator and take a look at the nutrition labels of anything that's not a fresh veggie, fruit, or protein source. That means packaged foods, frozen foods (aside from fruits & veggies), and basically anything in a box or soup can. If there are ingredients that you don't understand, they're probably some kind of chemical. It's probably not "clean". 

2. If you're not ready to get rid of loads of food, start with one category at a time. Start with, say, snacks. Any type of snacky food that's not clean, dump it. Or start with your freezer and dump anything frozen and artificial like instant pizza, hot pockets, instant microwavable meals (even if they say they're weight watchers--they're not actually healthy if they're full of chemicals). If you're feeling motivated--dump it all!

3. Make a list of healthy alternatives for the things you threw away. Eating clean takes a bit more time and definitely more planning and energy, but it's totally worth it to feel much better and have more energy to spare! Here's an example of what our grocery list looks like. We don't get everything each week, but we use this as a template and circle whatever we need for the week. We try our best to meal plan which I also suggest as it prevents you from wasting your fresh foods or having to run out to the store again in the same week. We also try to buy things that are on sale and/or in season to cut down on costs as well. 

Grocery List                                                          

       Peaches                                                 Hummus                                 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
       Oranges                                                Salmon                                      Olive oil cooking spray
       Clementines                                            Shrimp                                   Balsamic vinegar
       Strawberries                                            Tilapia                                     Apple Cider vinegar
       Blueberries                                          Ground turkey                           White wine vinegar
       Blackberries                                        Chicken breast                                   Black Pepper
       Raspberries                                              Eggs                                           Sea Salt
       Apples                                                 Egg-whites                                     Organic Honey
       Grapes                                                                                                      Whole Wheat Flour
       Pears                                                        Dairy                                            Sugar
       Plums                                                   Almond milk
       Grapefruit                                           Fat free yogurt
       Lemons                                          Fat free Greek yogurt                                Grains
       Limes                                               Mozzerella cheese                            Whole Grain Pasta
       Bananas                                   Shredded Mexican blend cheese                Whole Grain Tortillas
       Avocados                                               Ricotta                                         Whole Grain Bread
       Broccoli                                                   Feta                                           Steel Cut Oats
       Asparagus                                                                                                      Quinoa
       Lettuce                                                                                                            Barley
       Baby spinach                                        Frozen                                             Brown Rice
       Baby carrots                                      Vegetables                                          Wild Rice
       Bell peppers                                          Berries
       Cucumber                                       Vegan burgers
       Celery                                           Black bean burgers                              Snacks/other
       Mushrooms                                    sweet potato fries                                     nuts
       Red onions                                                                                                  dried fruit
       Red potatoes                                                                                              pop-corn
       Baking potatoes                            Canned Goods                                       green tea
       Sweet potatoes                            Tuna (white chunk)                                      seeds
       Brussels sprouts                             Garbanzo beans                                    coconut
       Vine tomatoes                                  Black beans                                       dark chocolate
       Grape tomatoes                     Low Sodium Chicken Broth
       Parsley                                                 Olives

Here are two books that really helped me. You can find them on amazon if you just click the images below. Both give recipe suggestions and explain "clean eating" far better than I ever could. 


I challenge you to take even small steps to eat cleaner! It really has helped Frank and I. We aren't nearly as strict as the women who wrote both of these books and we have taken a realistic approach. When we are at other's houses or when we're out at a restaurant we relax. When we're having a crazy hectic week, we may cut some corners with meals. Kris Carr and  Tosca Reno would probably wag their fingers at us, but right now, that's what we're able to do. Mainly our goal is to eat as clean as possible. Kris Carr from the Crazy Sexy Diet suggests aiming for an 80-20 diet. 80% clean, 20% not clean. We probably do more of a 60%-40% most weeks, but our ultimate goal is always to do as much as we can. 

Question of the Day: Do you eat clean? Are you willing to challenge yourself to eat cleaner in even one area of your diet?

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1 comment:

slydegirll said...

That's a great shopping list to work from! We've found that apples and peanut butter, hummus and veg/pretzels/pita, yogurt, cheese, and avocadoes are the easiest/tastiest/most filling "snacks." (Grapes don't cut it for my toddler or my 8-months-pregnant self to hold us more than 20 minutes!) Also, a tip: even with buying healthy things like canned garbanzo, white, red, or black beans, try to buy the low-sodium ones. The salt content of the regular ones is sky-high, and the low-sodium ones are just as tasty :)