Whether it’s to lose weight, make some gains or just to keep your body healthy, the clean eating concept is often tossed around although everyone seems to have a different idea of what that means. Now we all love our food to be washed and free of dangerous bacteria, but when it comes to my clean eating method I tend to focus on variety, vegetables and portion control. Seeing as I’ve just begun my latest foray into clean eating with my completion date being the 30th of September (equalling just over a month of nutritious meals), I think it’s a good time to share my method and show you how I get through a month without ice-cream – it’s possible, I swear.
Restricting your diet can be quite daunting when you want to lose weight. You think about the cravings, the food you’ll miss out on when you’re going out to eat, and how the hell do you say no to chocolate? First of all, I restrict very little food when I’m clean eating because you should never associate the delicious treats of this world with guilt. Instead, I try to substitute healthier alternatives (for example, wood-fired pizza rather than your take-away chain pizzerias), mix up my go-to meals (try new recipes, order something different at restaurants) and partake in portion control. My forbidden foods compile a short list including confectionery (with the exception of dark chocolate), soft drinks, and desserts as well as any deep-fried goodness. That’s it. I just make sure the portion actually equals a serving when I’m eating something a bit dense in calories and then my stomach is satisfied without me feeling any sense of failure. If I’m in a house party situation where every table is brimming with sugary indulgences, I think to myself, “will I think about missing out on this food tomorrow?”. The answer is almost always no, because the next day I’m already thinking about what I’m going to eat in the future, not what I could’ve eaten the day before. On the rare occasion that the food is something you’ve never seen in your life, then maybe let that rule slide, but there isn’t going to be a shortage of Pizza Hut’s garlic bread and mud cake from Woolworths anytime soon.
Next up, vegetables. Love them or hate them, we can universally agree that they’re the healthiest type of food you could eat. Roasted, grilled or buttered in a pan, I can eat my body weight in vegetables if their flavoured with the right spices, but the problem is that when I’m at home I don’t really put in the effort to cook them. They’re not difficult to make, I’m just lazy and although I have been improving in this aspect by eating at least one veggie-based meal a day, I also try to buy salads when I’m out to offset my amateur chef skills. The benefit of a growing vegetarian and vegan food industry is that we’re finally able to find flavourful vegetable-based meals out in the wild rather than having to scour the internet for recipes requiring ingredients you never knew existed. Good-bye the ‘mixed green salads’ of the world, a new species have landed and they’ve brought some friends. Mushy avocado, roasted nuts and even a little bit of quinoa can really make a dish pop and it certainly eases my jealousy when my friends are chowing down on some hefty burgers.
If your goal is to lose weight, I recommend only weighing yourself at the end of the month or giving yourself at least two weeks between each of your weigh ins. I find that daily fluctuations in body weight make it hard to focus on the bigger picture and depending on your personality, you might give up completely if you’re not seeing the results you want or some people may attempt to consume significantly fewer calories which may give you the weight loss you want, but not only is this detrimental to your health, once you finish your clean eating challenge it’s quite likely that you’ll yo-yo back into bad habits and the cycle will begin anew. No matter how you feel about your body in this moment of time, remember that your health will always be the main priority and sometimes that means indulging in a chocolate bar at the end of a long day – one treat won’t ruin your progress in the long run.
The reason that I find my method so appealing is that once I have completed the diet over a decent stretch of time, I just continue eating in this way while incorporating treats and increasing portion size to maintain my weight. Of course, there will always be times when I fall off the bandwagon (hence the reason I decided to restart the diet for September) but through trial and error I’ve found a method that gets me back on track no matter how many scoops of ice-cream or slices of cake I’ve consumed – maybe it can motivate you, too.