Our Clean Eating Challenge week is over. If you haven’t been following, last week Allie, Amy, Holly & I challenged ourselves to eat clean for 1 full week.
It was a wild week for me. Personally I ended up in a heap on the floor crying from stress on Wednesday morning (and I have a high capacity for stress, promise). The universe also threw in a sick toddler. I thought that given the circumstances this would be the worst week for me to go on a diet.
But you know what? I feel great. I mean, really, really great. Perhaps it was the reassessment of what was causing me stress and weeding those things out, BUT I also think this “diet” really made an impact on me.
I hesitate to even call this a diet. This was me taking back my eating. As Erin encouraged us to “Take Back Me” this was my week to “Take Back My Piehole.” Or insert a better name.
This week was all about coming back to conciousness about what went in my mouth. Every morsel.
Here is what I learned in my Week Long Clean Eating Challenge:
1. It worked because I cheated.
I felt great on this diet because I let myself cheat a little. Changing habits of any kind is really tough and miserable. By giving myself forgiveness for a glass of wine here and there, a piece of chocolate once in awhile, it made this feel “habit changing” versus a “Oh my God just hold on until Sunday.”
2. I am glad I didn’t bring my family along.
Many asked if my husband and sons were also eating clean all week. The answer is: no. We eat home-cooked and healthy a lot, so my husband had no issues or complaints with the dinners set in front of him this week. But I did not take away his beer. Nor did I take crackers and the occasional chocolate chip cookie away from my kids (what else would I bribe them with?). I role modelled great eating, they were encouraged to follow my lead, but I did not force anything upon them. It alleviated the stress in the week.
3. It requires a lot of planning. Or does it?
I took a lot of time this week really thinking through my meals, doing research, learning about the healthiest options and reading labels on food. I felt overwhelmed. Not to mention all the cooking I did! My GOD, the cooking and meal time prep!
But you know what? At the end of the week this is becoming much easier. I am at the top of the learning curve now. I no longer feel like I have to go buy chickens to lay fresh eggs in order to eat clean. I also have found simple, tasty shortcuts in the kitchen. One night I put chicken in the fridge in a plastic bag marinating. The next night we baked it in the oven. Easy!
4. Eating clean and healthy is more expensive than eating processed…seemingly.
I felt like this was adding up quickly. Organic fruits and veggies, farm-raised fish…not to mention how often I was physically in the store to purchase items necessary to complete recipes and meals. Plus, these things don’t have the shelf life of Goldfish and Ritz crackers.
But I also have a LOT of leftovers from the week. I was able to cut spending on take out and snacks. Let’s not even talk about how much I am probably saving by not visiting the coffehouse (do you miss me Caribou?).
Plus, I look at it as an investment. In myself, my body, and my health.
5. Thank God for Chocolate. And Dairy.
I need that little bit of perfect chocolate at the end of a long, busy day. There is also no way I could do this without some dairy in my life, at least some. (Cheese makes everything better.) In otherwords, I don’t see a detox in my immediate future.
6. I can’t go carb-free.
I freely admit I was on carb overload before this. I realize don’t need garlic bread but I do need some sort of carbohydrate during the day. The complex, whole wheat carbs got me through the week, though. I am not an Atkins girl.
7. The more you drink water the more you need water.
As I really upped my water intake I found myself getting parched and thirsty if I hadn’t had water in the past hour. Annoying, and bizarre. Not to mention that I peed about every 2 hours this week.
8. Alcohol is a part of my lifestyle.
I am okay with this. Having a glass of wine with a friend, enjoying a cocktail with my husband, having a long dinner with my family…alcohol is just a part of my social life. Control, responsibility, and awareness about drinking matters but cutting it out entirely probably just won’t happen in my life.
9. Coffee hurts my stomach.
I didn’t cut out coffee entirely, just cut way back. In the process I learned that the amount of coffee I was having every day really burned my stomach. Previously I would get a bad ache mid-morning every day. That ache disappeared when I cut back on my coffee intake. Good to know and happier stomach!
10. Eating more means eating less.
I am so in to this snacking regularly thing. By deciding to conciously and smartly snack between meals my binge eating attack on meals is over. I also found it kept my enery level up throughout the day to be fueled by healthy carbs and fruits and vegetables.
11. Clean eating is really delicious.
When you use pure ingredients and invest in high quality fruits, vegetables, breads, and meats it tastes GOOD. I thought this week would be an exercise in the bland but it wasn’t in the least.
12. The Gracious Pantry is a Gracious Gift.
This website made it much, much easier to make it thorugh this week. The creative, delicious recipes for clean eating she had ready to go helped me through.
All this does not mean this week was easy. I am not announcing that I will now eat clean my entire life.
I am saying that I am really glad I did this experiment, I am so pleased my friends were alongside me to keep me accountable, and I do plan on making some of these new approaches to food and my diet a regular part of my life.