Clean Eating

This is the latest in a long line of ways I try to manipulate my body into staying in a shape & size that fits into my pants.

The target right now is a pair of Tilley travel pants, purchased just before heading to Morocco 2 years ago.

Two years ago I was in a frenzy, prepping for our imminent wedding, seeing a personal trainer twice weekly and shrinking due partly to stress. Let me advise you, this is NOT when you want to invest in clothing you expect to ever fit into again.

My brother’s fiancee has been recommending clean eating to me for a while now, and out of desperation in terms of fitting into these pants again, I picked up an issue of Clean Eating Magazine, then the book The Eat Clean Diet, Recharged. (For what it’s worth, this post is entirely unsolicited.)

The basics of clean eating are to have 5-6 small meals a day, each one including a serving of lean protein and a serving of complex carbohydrates from fruit/veggies. And 2-4 of those meals should also include some sort of whole-grain starch.

There are of course other elements – natural sweeteners only, including fermented foods (yogurt, keffir, soy) for digestive balance, drinking lots of water/herbal tea, eliminating refined flours, increasing exercise. But the aforementioned 6 meals and their components are at the core of the plan.

I have tried countless other diets and “weight loss/get healthy” plans; weight watchers, body for life, wild rose herbal d-tox. They all fell terribly short. I couldn’t stick to them. Or if I did, I didn’t see results (WW, I’m lookin’ at you!).

Inevitably, the biggest frustration I have with any sort of “diet plan” is that they don’t focus on REAL food. They encourage a whole pantry full of edible food-like substances. Ultimately I get frustrated a) spending money on those, b) feeling uneasy eating them and c) NOT COOKING!

Clean Eating is the exact opposite of that. In fact, were I not quite comfortable around the kitchen, clean eating might be much trickier.

There are recipes to follow, but there is also lots of room for improvisation. It means I can use up what’s in my fridge & pantry pretty easily – reducing waste, sticking with seasonal products. The way I try to cook on a day-to-day basis.

It does take quite a lot of time planning out and prepping 6 meals every evening. The example meal plans are called “cooler” plans, since the only way to ensure you’re eating clean on a day-to-day basis is to pack up a cooler of meals for the day.

I’ve been on this for 3 weeks now and those pants I couldn’t even do up before Christmas, fit again. Along with a whole other section of my wardrobe that didn’t.

I haven’t even been exercising more than normal (weekly yoga, a few other walks during the week – shamefully I have yet to go for a run in 2010), though I have declared it to be “Sober January” – a dry month after the excesses of the holiday season.

Everyone’s got to do what works for them. And I know there are bunches of programs that work for all sorts of people. And I have FINALLY found one that works for me!

If you don’t mind cooking, or eating regularly (I’m pretty happy to stuff my face every 3 hours, I know others see that as a hassle), I can recommend this one. It may work for you too.

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5 thoughts on “Clean Eating

  1. jen

    thanks for posting about this. great to hear you’ve found something that works for you. i’m curious to hear how this plan has affected neil. any change in not just what you’re eating but how you are eating it is bound to have some impact, no? and i hear ya when you say that too many diets/eating plans have you spending less time in the kitchen. i guess that’s great if you don’t like to cook, but when cooking is a hobby that is not something that’s going to keep me committed. do these mini meals actually feel like meals or is it more like you are just snacking all day? i really enjoy sitting down with a meal (instead of standing in front of the fridge and snacking). but i suppose that doing away with that habit likely wouldn’t hurt me!

  2. Colleen

    I’ve played with the “Eating Clean” diet. Seriously, some of the best things I’ve ever done and found works, is the In Defense of Food argument: eat what you want, mostly vegetables.

    I’m watching yeast (tho, mexico will be difficult with that one) and casein at the moment, but other than that I’m working towards just eating BETTER through the year vs eating perfectly through to a short term goal.

    I’ve come to this theory – My body is my body. I get enough (positive) attention from either sex that I’ve simply concerned myself with healthy eating rather than focusing on why I’m not good enough.

    You are going to have a KICK ass time, and if you ever want to do any travel writing, Miss Manifesto is open for you at any time!

    Let’s catch up when you get home, yeah? 😀

  3. peechie Post author

    @jen Neil’s pretty happy with the plan as well. He hasn’t been quite as strictly into it as I have (since he’s been traveling, and is one of those people who absolutely finds it a hassle to eat every 3 hours) but he does like the food, which makes it easy.

    As for the mini-meals, generally it’s 3 scaled-down squares and 2 or 3 snacks. We definitely still sit down for proper meals.

    @Colleen this really follows the same principles Pollan lays out: eat real food, not too much, mostly plants. It amps things up a bit by revving the metabolism with constant eating and combining protein/veg at every meal. Lots of my protein comes from nuts, seeds, beans, dairy (it’s still light on meat).

    And other than the initial gassy adjustment period as I got used to eating far more fiber, I feel better than I have in a long time. Which is huge.

    And you bet I’ll be collecting notes and pictures; happy to crack a few out for Miss M when I’m home 🙂 We’ll definitely get together in March!

    @A Little Coffee I TOTALLY get what you mean about the eating every 3 hours. I will happily eat all day long. I think that’s one of the reasons this plan works so well for me. I would eat all day anyhow, but hadn’t planned for it. So I’d eat whatever junk I could find in the vending machine or convenience store. Definitely not good for the ass:pants ratio.

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