I didn’t always understand the importance of clean eating. In fact, I grew up in a family that didn’t eat very clean at all. We were total junk-food junkies that just followed our cravings and lived on cheap, fast food. It was a big mistake and something that I deeply regret. I regret it because retraining your mind, your habits, and your taste buds is really, really hard to do!
A few years ago, I came to the conclusion that I needed to start taking better care of my body. I always enjoyed healthy foods and fun exercise (like swimming and hiking), but I still let processed foods and this computer desk rule my life. I thought that eating salads and playing at the lake would make up for all of the cheeseburgers, cupcakes, and hours in front of the computer, but that just isn’t true.
When I decided it was time for a change, I started exercising and improving my eating habits, and I was super happy with the results. I had natural energy! I looked cute in my summer clothes. I felt confident and happy…well, most of the time. I am still just an awkward introvert at heart.
Now, if you know me at all, you know where this story is going. I met my husband right around the same time that I reached my happy weight, felt beautiful and confident, and worked out every day. I love that I met him, I love that I married him, and I’m so thankful for the life that we ended up with! But we did take an unfortunate detour of laziness and binge-eating when we first got comfortable with each other, and that was another big regret of mine.
There was very little time for self-loathing though, because we soon found out that we had a baby on the way, and that changed our lives forever. I suddenly realized that my body was not just mine anymore, it also belonged to this helpless little fetus that was being subjected to every choice that I made…Probably the cutest little fetus you’d ever see, but that is beside the point.
And so began my clean eating journey…but let me take a moment to clarify something about this journey: I am not someone who is obsessed with fitness or vegetables. I am not someone with a size-two waist and a perfect diet. I am imperfect, I am quite flawed actually. I honestly love sweets, and I drink soda sometimes. So when I speak of my clean eating journey, I am speaking of the balance that I have found eating MOSTLY clean, healthy, nutritious foods. I am speaking of changing my habits for the better and learning to love healthy eating, learning to avoid processed foods as much as I can, and learning to move my body more so that I can live a long, full, and healthy life. That is my personal journey, and I am happy to share what I’m learning along the way.
It started with pregnancy. I read somewhere that a baby in the womb can actually taste flavors of what you’ve eaten when they drink the amniotic fluid that makes up their temporary living space. Not sure if that is total bogus or not, but it made me think about how my choices were affecting this kid already. So I started loading up my plate with vegetables every night. If this kid was going to be acquiring a taste for anything pre-birth, it was going to be broccoli!
Coincidentally, she does love broccoli.
I started shopping for locally grown non-GMO foods, and I found that prices are often comparable to their less-healthy cousins any way, so might as well take the safer and cleaner route. I noticed that the more I thought about healthy eating and the positive effect that it has on my body and my baby, the more I wanted to eat healthy and exercise.
Every day that I was pregnant, I woke up before work and I exercised. I ate tons of fruits, veggies, oatmeal, pregnancy-friendly protein shakes, and omelets. I ate some junk food too (just ask my husband)! But for the most part, I tried to eat as healthy as possible.
My personal idea of clean eating is to limit foods that come prepackaged in a box and to avoid buying/eating things that have ingredients you cannot pronounce. One tip that some of my health-conscious friends taught me was to shop around the perimeter of the store: think fruits, nuts, veggies, lean meats, seafood, eggs, rice, beans, corn tortillas, almond and/or coconut milk, Greek yogurt etc…and occasionally bacon, of course.
When all is said and done, I am very happy to report that I don’t deprive myself of things that I love, but I do try to find the healthiest alternatives and eat those more often than not. I don’t obsess over the number on the scale, but I do obsess about feeling good in my skin and having natural energy. That natural energy comes from the fuel that we give our body, so I try to give my body PREMIUM fuel whenever I can, and honestly, most of the time, we can do it if we really want to.
I just hope that I can pass the idea of positive thinking, healthy habits, and a loving self-image onto my children.
Article by: Cate Rosales