This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase from one of the links below, I'll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!
(Note: This article is a part of our 31-day series, “31 Days to a Whole Body Makeover“.)
I was a junk food junkie my entire life. I was also on a diet since the age of nine. I know that sounds contradictory, but the yo-yo cycle of deprivation/starving yourself and then soon after, binging on the junk food, is what keeps the diet industry in business.
Everything sounds so enticing: Pills, wraps, creams, cleanses… but there simply is no “easy” way to lose weight. Even weight loss surgery has zero guarantee of working unless you stick to a strict low-carb diet and exercise program for the rest of your life. It may change your body, but it doesn’t change your brain, and people gain their weight back post-surgery all the time!
What if I told you that there is a way to break that diet cycle forever?
The method that is working for me is called “Intuitive Eating”. No diet plan. No measuring, weighing, counting calories. I don’t even know if there is an official program with that name; it’s a philosophy that I’ve grown to believe as I have successfully implemented it into my life. I don’t even think it’s necessary to step on the scale; it’s so misleading and we attach way too much meaning on that number.
Intuitive eating is simply eating the foods I KNOW are real, nutrient-dense foods, and stopping my intake when I’m comfortably full. I have found that if you check in with yourself, you might find that what you REALLY want is clean, real food. Sure, a sugar-laden treat might sound awesome in the moment, but if you check in with your body, you will find that past the moment of instant gratification, your body wants real health. If you do indulge, my opinion is that you should enjoy every single bite, revel in it, and actually take the time to taste, smell, and feel it.
And once you are finished, speak only positive words to yourself, because if you beat yourself up over that indulgence, you will find it impossible to go back to clean eating afterwards. When it comes to losing weight, people do not respond by being bullied into it. We respond by being loved into it. So love yourself into the body that you are meant to be. Listen to what it truly wants, and then give yourself the affirmations you deserve.
If you would like a book that goes into great depth about this very topic, about reprogramming the way you think about food and dieting, then you simply MUST read Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. It is a REVELATION.
Benefits of Making the Switch to Clean Eating:
- Mental clarity
- Improved sleep
- Increased and stable energy levels
- Improved moods
- Lessened anxiety and depression
- Lowered risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
- Higher immune function
- Decreased pain from inflammation
- Reduced asthma
- Sustained weight loss
- General feeling of well-being
With all of these incredible benefits — and I’m sure I’ve left off a thousand more — once you realize what an effect processed foods have on your body, it will be so much easier to know that real, whole food is the only food you truly want. You deserve those amazing healthy benefits, and more!
Even with all of the things you will be cutting out of your diet, stop thinking about what you can’t have and think about all of the amazing, beautiful foods you CAN have!
What I Eat:
Whenever people ask me what diet plan I adhere to, I always say that I best relate to the Paleo way of eating, because people know what that is, and they know that it is all unprocessed, real foods. Just as God intended food to be. In fact, when I’m lacking inspiration, I just do a search for “Paleo recipes” and come back with a million recipe ideas full of totally wonderful, healthy, natural, whole foods! This is why I have so many Paleo recipes here on Better Bee Daily, because I am all about real, unprocessed food.
If you know for certain that processed foods cause bad reactions in your body (e.g., I know for a fact that sugar gives me anxiety and depression), then I would recommend a 30-day elimination diet so you can pinpoint exactly what it is that is causing issues. You need the full 30 days to let your gut heal and reset. The elimination diet I did is called Whole30, and it is WONDERFUL. Plus, there is so much support online! They have forums, and my favorite place for support is their Instagram page!
After the elimination portion of Whole30, there is a critical reintroduction phase where you get to test things as you put them back in to see how your body reacts. Maybe you’ll find that both of these food groups cause major bloating, gas, and fatigue. Or you might find that dairy suits you just fine, or that you don’t have a problem with wheat after all! This is why I think the Paleo plan isn’t right for everyone; what IS for everyone is real food, food that your body NEEDS and WANTS. Eat nutrient-dense food, so long as your body does not have a hard time digesting and processing it.
The book is another must-read!
Read The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig
Just one more thought about doing an elimination diet like Whole30 to figure out the foods that are triggering problems in your body: If doing this for 30 days just seems too hard, then I suggest doing the next list of suggestions one at a time. Master one over the course of one week, then that second week, try another one, until you’ve mastered clean eating. But know this… Whole30 goes by faster than you might realize, and I promise you can do anything for 30 days! Remember, this is NOT a diet in the traditional sense, this is a way to find out what foods are keeping you overweight and unhappy!
Ways to Switch to Clean Eating and Healthy Foods:
Just to reiterate, because I think this is important, if doing all of this all at once is too hard, take it one at a time, and introduce another once you’ve mastered the first. This is a forever lifestyle; there is no need to rush this process. We want progress, not perfection!
Clean out your pantry — It is far easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist temptation. That is why you need to clear your cupboards of any processed foods you know are not healthy for you. I used to think, “Oh, the kids need candy or cookies.” No they don’t!! I realized I don’t want to send my kids down the same path I struggled with for far too long.
Don’t go too long between meals without eating — This lowers your blood sugar and then by the time you get the chance to eat, it is going to be impossible to choose well, because your body just wants sugar, and it wants it NOW. This is why so many people are more successful eating 5 to 6 small meals per day, versus three large meals.
No fast food — Cut out the convenience foods and anything that has been deep fried.
Instead, opt for: Make your plate at home to include at least 2 vegetables and/or fruits. Pile them up! Add 3 oz. of lean protein (chicken, fish, and eggs are best), but always treat meat as a topping or a side, and not the main course. Also add 1 serving of healthy fat, be it avocado, nuts, oil, homemade mayo, etc. If you would like a serving of whole grains (brown rice, Ezekiel bread, etc.), limit it to 1/2 cup.
If you also enjoyed fast food because of the convenience, learn to do all of your weekly meal prep on your days off (ie shopping on Saturday, cook all day Sunday, then do a smaller prep day on Thursday to get you through to Saturday. Repeat.). Every weekend, I roast two large trays of various, in-season vegetables, five sweet potatoes, and I hard-boil a dozen eggs. I also utilize the slow cooker by cooking some sort of meat that I can use throughout the week in various meals.
Eliminate artificial ingredients — This includes sweeteners, flavors, and colors. Instead opt for making your own condiments and food at home, where you can see and approve of everything that is going in.
Eliminate sweeteners — Check all labels for corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, date sugar, raw sugar, fruit juice concentrate, can juice, brown rice syrup, agave, stevia, sucralose (Splenda), maple sugar, and cane sugar.
Instead, opt for: On the Paleo plan, raw honey and real maple syrup are allowed (and many do include coconut/palm sugar), but for elimination diets such as Whole30, you will want to cut these out, too, until you know for certain you do not have a sensitivity to them.
Eliminate processed drinks — Cut out soda pop (regular AND diet), fruit juice, anything with artificial sweeteners like diet lemonade and/or protein shakes.
Instead, opt for: Water. You would be amazed at how you will grow to love and crave water if it is all you drink. Plus, you can always add sliced fruit to it for extra flavor.
No refined oils — These oils are known to cause inflammation and are advised to avoid: vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, margarine
Instead, opt for: Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, clarified butter (or ghee), or even organic grass-fed butter, if it does not cause sensitivities.
Eliminate dairy — Milk, yogurt, cheese, coffee creamer, whipped cream, heavy cream
Instead, opt for: Coconut milk is a great cream alternative, or you can whip it for coconut whipped cream. People make cheese out of cashews as a cheese alternative!
Cut out gluten — Try making food without flour. (If you can’t do this, just make sure everything is made of real, whole grains.)
Instead, opt for: You would be amazed at what you can do without regular wheat-based flour! I mean, have you tried my incredible “Paleo” chocolate chip cookies, yet? Try coconut flour, almond flour, tapioca flour, and arrowroot instead!
What is your favorite healthy clean eating recipes? Please tell me in the comments below!