As a fitness professional, I always stress that what we put into our bodies directly affects us: our ability to fight off disease, our sleep patterns, our energy levels, our physical and mental performance, physical appearance, emotional state, hormones, and on and on. This is obviously not news. But pause for a moment and think about your body as a car.
What model, make, year, color would your body be?
Did you say a red hot Ferrari from the future that flies?! I sure hope so because that would be effing awesome. If not, it’s okay. I still like you. But you might want to re-evaluate things, from how often you are taking a spin around the block (movement) to how frequently you get a full tune-up (self-care) to the fuel you are using (nutrition). The higher the quality of fuel, the higher the performance. You wouldn’t put “Regular Unleaded” into your Ferrari from the future, would you? Based on the evidence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease rates, it’s sadly apparent that a good portion of the population are treating their bodies not so much like Ferrari’s, but mayyyyybe more like this…
It’s not entirely their fault. We are surrounded by products filled with not-so-good-for-us ingredients. It takes a lot of patience, time, will power and investment to eat well in today’s world. And we are busy, overworked and tired. I totally get it. It’s a huge commitment. But how do we start? Let’s start first with a mental shift away from broken sad hoopdie, and more toward fierce Ferrari. Your body is a totally priceless, highly evolved machine, and you should filling it with whole, rich, nutrient dense foods to match it’s sophisticated design.
Now. Let’s talk about the ubiquitous term, “clean eating”. The term that is #totes #trendy on social media and a bit cringeworthy inside serious training facilities. Why? Because it sounds buzzworthy enough to hashtag but is generic enough to apply to just. About. Anything. But what exactly does it mean? Is it an organic diet? A juice cleanse? No sugar? Vegan? Lo carb? Paleo? Guess what? It’s all those things. Or. None of those things. Which is why some fitness professionals sort of just shrug at the term. Clean eating, shmlean eating. It’s all just a fancy way of saying: eat healthy within moderation, Felisha.
I believe however that clean eating is a term that can exist, AS LONG AS YOU CAN DEFINE IT. If you tell a friend you’re “eating clean” and they ask you what that is, what do you answer?
In that spirit, I’d love to take a second to redefine what clean eating means to me. To me, clean eating simply put is a return to the basics. Fewer ingredients, fewer preservatives, fewer packages, fewer processes, more indulging in whole foods that could actually be found on a walk through the forest as a hunter/gatherer, versus a walk through the middle aisles of the grocery store. Basically, if it takes me longer to list the ingredients of the foods I’m eating than it does to actually eat said foods, I’m probably not “eating clean”.
CLEAN EATING in my house looks like this:
- I am eating 6-8 oz of lean, preferably organic, hormone-free protein with every meal.
- I am eating two cups of something leafy and green with every meal.
- I am eating healthy fats (avocadoes, full fat dairy, real butter, EVOO).
- I am limiting caffeine to two cups/day.
- I am aware of my intake of sugar and sodium, trying to stay below 56 g of sugar and 2300 mg of sodium per day.
- I am hydrating myself with half my bodyweight in fl oz of water a day.
- I am hydrating myself occasionally with red wine (because a girl’s gotta live!).
- I am avoiding highly processed grains and flour, and focusing on carbs from both green and starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes are my favorite!) and fresh fruits.
- When I eat this way, I feel lighter, more energized, I have a sharper mind, feel happy and empowered. I feel in control of my health.
So here we go. I challenge you to grab a piece of paper and pen, and ask yourself the following:
- When I commit to “clean eating”, I envision eating:
- When I commit to “clean eating”, I envision avoiding:
- If I had to explain to a child why the specific foods I am choosing are healthy, I would say:
- My Food Pyramid looks like this (Draw your own version. Ask yourself, what is at the base of my food pyramid? What is in the middle? What is at the narrowest portion, the top of the chart?):
- Most importantly, when I commit to “clean eating”, I feel:
After you’ve made this term specific to YOU and YOUR GOALS for a healthier lifestyle, I give you full permission to overwhelm your instagram and Facebook followers with pics of your Ferrari food pyramids and your nutritious meals, proudly stamped #cleaneating. Because now you can be confident that it’s more than a hashtag, it is a well-defined ACTION STEP toward your healthiest self.
Feel free to add #cleaneatingmeans to your photos! I’d love to see how empowered you are feeling by your newly defined goals.