An amateur’s approach to clean eating

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This spring has been a turning point for me because in a lot of ways I’ve had a sort of awakening when it comes to my health. This covers a lot of areas in my life because “health”, to me, also means my general well-being. So eating more carrots just ain’t gonna cut it. I also did a spring cleaning in the stuff I was carrying around in my head that was simply taking up too much space and not really serving me anymore.

However, some of the more tangible changes I’ve made includes:

  1. I upped the ante on active living. I took it to new levels this year by starting to take my yoga practice seriously, becoming a runner, and making 30 minutes of moving my a*ss every day non-negiotiable. (Confession? Every now and then those 30 minutes are just an evening walk to the grocery store furthest from my house, and back. I’m totally fine with that.)
  2. I kicked a six-year nicotine addiction that I honestly never thought I’d be able to beat.
  3. And the thing that most surprised me was that I managed to do a complete overhaul of my diet.

Having always been physically active, I think I’ve used that as an excuse to not have to really do anything in particular with the way I eat. In the past, I have been extremely resistant to making changes in my diet. Why? Because I knew what it would mean. It would mean giving up cake. And who in their right mind would want to give up cake? Or rather, who would would want to add a big, fat dollop of guilt every time you eat that cake?

This all changed when I stopped thinking about good foods/bad foods, what’s healthy/unhealthy. Instead I adopted this very logical philosophy: just eat real food. Just….real food, for God’s sake.

The key element here is that I made a decision to just eat more real food. It’s all about adding – not eliminating. At no point did I say to myself ”I’m not gonna drink diet soda” or ”I’m gonna quit coffee”. Heck, I didn’t even say ”I’m never gonna eat at McDonald’s anymore” even though this is a choice that would obviously be very beneficial to my health. I refused to get dragged into the ”Oh my God, am I seriously never gonna have another bite of cheesecake again?! Screw that!” kind of thinking.

I mean, come on. You don’t seriously think that’s the realistic way of approaching a healthy eating lifestyle, do you?

Instead I found an approach that worked wonders for me, and I believe it would work pretty well for other mere mortals too:
Just for today, I will eat and drink only things that nourish me.”

I repeated this little mantra in my head. Looking down at my plate or shopping cart at the grocy store or the menu in the restaurant, I asked, “is this going to nourish me?”. If you take it day by day, the days soon add up. And once the days add up, you’ve successfully created a habit. Congratulations! Half the work is done, trust me on this. Here’s the good news that I’ve learned in my quest so far to become a healthier version of me:

  • It’s a day-by-day, meal-by-meal kind of thing in the beginning. Do not let yourself get overwhelmed by the idea of keeping this up for the rest of your life, that’s a recipe for disaster. Just make the choice that today, for breakfast, I will not eat store-bought cereal containing 500 different kinds of sugar. I’ll make oatmeal. Those little choices add up and before you know it, you’re a healthy, happy camper.
  • You know those cravings you’re having for sugar and grease and fried stuff? They’ll go away on their own once you start adding more real food. You don’t even have to do anything to change what you’re craving right now. Your body takes care of that on its own.

I think that the important thing to remember is that we’re all just humans here trying to do the best we can, so let’s not put too much pressure on ourselves… Effort = success in my book!

I’m definitely still an amateur at this stuff, but I can assure you that I’m reaping the benefits of turning over to a mostly plant-based diet. You just feel darn good.

I’ll keep you posted!

Xx Christine

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