Hopefully you are all excited about participating in the 50 day Clean Eating Challenge. To help everyone get started I figured I would post some helpful steps for getting yourself ready for the challenge. Sometimes when you are making a move to a new way of eating, or a healthier lifestyle it can feel a bit daunting, so hopefully these steps and tips will help guide you in the right direction so it feels more exciting than terrifying.
Firstly, I think it is important to explain what I mean by the words “refined” and “processed“, these foods fall into the category of “fake foods” or “lesser foods” for me. They are generally white foods like white flour, sugar, table salt or they have their very own commercials, and generally come in some form of box. Anything that requires more than 5-10 ingredients to make it a food, especially if you can’t pronounce half of the words, would fall into the category of refined and processed foods, think Kraft Single Slices, Oreos, frozen pizza, chips, pop, etc. I think you all get the point.
Now that that is explained, lets get started, how do you get ready for a challenge like this (that will hopefully turn into more of a lifestyle than just a 50 day challenge)? Well I have broken it down into a couple of helpful steps and tips, and I have provided some additional resources in case you want some more information.
When I first started moving my diet over to a clean eating style I picked up the highly recommended Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno, it is a great book and for $15 on amazon you can get your very own copy. It helped me figure out ways to substitute high fat foods for healthier fat foods and it helped me figure out how to start building meal plans that worked for me and my lifestyle. I will be relying on the information I have learnt from Reno and various other sources (some listed below) to help build the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge.
Let’s Get Started:
1.Clean it all out! This may hurt, but it is time to go through your cupboards, drawers, pantry and fridge. Be thorough when reading through the ingredients, if there are:
- Words you can’t pronounce, refined anything, processed anything, artificial flavouring, trans fats, or any other chemicals listed it is not a clean food. Toss it or if the item is unopened donate it to a local charity or food bank.
- If there are more than 5 or 6 ingredients you are probably toeing the line with real food and fake food. It is your call on whether or not you keep this item as long as it doesn’t have anything listed in above.
*I understand that you live with other who are not doing this challenge this step might be even more difficult. I would recommend trying to make some shelves or space for your food, so you aren’t constantly tempted later on in the challenge.
2. Planning! With your fridge and pantry probably looking a little bare it is time to start planning your grocery list. This part may feel a bit overwhelming but here are some easy ways to keep it simple:
- Fill your list with fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables will be your pillars for the next 50 days. Frozen is fine, but remember to read the ingredients a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables will add refined sugars and salts to help preserve them. You can always over buy your fruits and veggies if they are on sale and freeze them yourself for easy and quick use later on.
- Buy organic, antibiotic and hormone free meat. I would recommend making friends with your local butcher, the smaller amount of people handling your meat chances are the healthier it is for you. Stick to lean meats such as poultry, fish, bison, elk and lean cuts of beef. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, double check your tofu or protein sources to make sure they are organic and chemical and GMO free.
- Dried things and canned things can be your friends, but always remember to read the ingredients to make sure there aren’t any added preservatives, chemicals, etc. Having these things on hand can cut down on cost for your grocery bill and can make your life a whole lot easier when you are trying to think of an easy supper idea.
- Dairy (eggs included) – totally allowed. Clean eating focuses on reducing fats, but relies on a good supply of healthy fats, some of which are found in dairy products. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, organic goats cheese, etc are all good sources of fat, in moderation. You might be tempted to buy the fat free version of everything I would strongly advise against this. To make things that are naturally fatty fat free a lot of weird stuff happens, it is best to buy your food as close to its natural state as possible.
- Dairy substitutes – not all of us can have milk, some great options are things like brown rice milk, soy milk (GMO free) or almond milk. They are excellent substitutes for baking and smoothie requirements.
3. Combine your Time – With all the shopping and planning everything can feel a bit stress filled. If you use the same day to do your groceries and prepare some of your food it will help you relax for the rest of the week. Having food prepared in advance will be particularly amazing when you just don’t feel like it. Being able to grab something healthy to eat will help keep your spirits high and keep you motivated to succeed.
4. Containers! – You might not care much about food containment units now but it will be essential to this challenge that you get the next two items:
- A water bottle: While eating clean you will be drinking a LOAD of water (about 2-3 liters a day). Drinking so much water means you will need to have something to put it in. Sure a glass is great at home, but you will want to bring that water with you everywhere you go, and no one wants to destroy the environment. Get yourself a nice BPA free plastic, glass, or metal water bottle to bring with you everywhere you go.
- A lunch bag – Yup, just like in elementary school you are going to want to have a lunch bag. Having a bag or cooler to bring your food around with you will make it that much easier for you to stay on track when you aren’t somewhere you can’t whip up your own stir fry. It will also save you when you have a snack attack because it will be constantly full of delicious healthy treats!
These four steps should help you to prepare for the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge, and will make it easier for you to stay on track when you are faced with difficult situations.
Below I have included a couple additional resources that are super helpful. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I will do my best to answer them or I will at the very least be point you in the right direction.
The Gracious Pantry – Has great tips and technics to clean up your recipes and kitchen for eating clean.
Clean Eating Magazine – Great recipes and tips, and other frequently asked questions about eating clean. You can also pick the magazine up in stores if you are a textile person.
Eat Clean Diet – Here is Tusca Reno’s webpage. Super helpful tips, hints and Q&As
Stay tuned later next week I will be posting the “rules” for the challenge. I hope you are all getting as excited about this as I am.