Today I am half way through my Clean Eating Detox, and it’s going well. I’ve surprised myself at being able to stick with it this long without any major cravings or cheats. And I’ve learned a few things:
1. Water is your friend
I was already a water drinker, but when I would dine out it was easy to choose something else – usually sweet tea or soda. I found that many places had terrible tasting water, so I would just opt for a tastier option. Lemon solved that. There’s bound to be a wedge of lemon somewhere in the restaurant. Squeezed into a tall glass of not so wonderful tap water, it made the water not only drinkable, but quite refreshing. I ask for lemon even when the water is delightful on its own.
2. Doing your best is better than doing nothing
So many times in the past I had good intentions but would get overwhelmed and confused. Was this food item considered healthy or not? It has 27 ingredients, and I can pronounce all but 2 of them. This one has 4 ingredients, but 3 of them are poly-syllabic words that require five minutes each to sound out. I used to give up. Now, armed with the week’s grocery list plus my master sheet of “EAT vs AVOID” I’m ready for battle. Still, there are some things that just couldn’t be found: “clean” mustard (no sugar and no vinegar). Ultimately, I used a bit of fancy mustard I had in the fridge. No sugar, but it did have vinegar in it. Is my cleanse a bust? No. Is the teeny, tiny amount of sugar in the all natural soft licorice I ate throwing me out of the game? No. Those 2 (or maybe 3) little pieces of licorice still have less sugar than the handful of M&M’s I was munching every evening, with an occasional handful after lunch, and sometimes the small handful that I grabbed walking out the door when running errands. I can confidently say that I’ve been eating more than 90% clean, and probably closer to 95%. Pretty proud of myself.
3. Preparation is key
I have a grocery list that corresponds to the week’s menus. For some of you that is a no brainer; for the rest of us – this is crucial. The list and menu with recipes comes from a Clean Eating group I belong to. I didn’t have to do the math to calculate how many tomatoes I needed. I bought what was on the list (with a few substitutions), and voila! I had groceries for the week that actually corresponded to what I was going to prepare for meals.
The only thing I didn’t count on was what to easily pack if I was traveling for the day. Since my options for eating out were minimized, I had to plan ahead (which was a challenge for me). After one sad dinner consisting of a protein bar, an apple, and some rice crackers, I spent some time devising better snack and light meal options that could survive the summer heat in my car.
4. Trying new things isn’t so scary
Swiss chard was on my first week’s grocery list. I looked at it. I was scared. I didn’t buy any. I did, however, try kale. It was also on my list. I liked it. I didn’t love it, but it was quite yummy mixed with baby spinach as the base of a salad. I’d definitely buy some again, or better yet (as I hardly made a dent in the huge bag I had purchased), I will continue to grow some in my garden – and not consider it a decoration! We’ll see if I get a bit braver with the Swiss chard.
5. Little changes can make a big difference
If you’re not ready to go full throttle on a challenge like this, consider cutting back on the avoids: sugar, dairy, soy, gluten, coffee, and alcohol. There are more, but those are major ones. Drink more water. Eat an apple each day (green apples are healthier for detoxing). Add in more leafy greens. Small steps to healthier eating along with a change in mindset will make a huge difference in how you feel.
If you want more information on clean eating, including recipes and tips, join my Facebook group “Healthy and Happy.” It’s a closed group, just ask to join. There are no fees, just information and sharing of clean eating experiences. I’m not an expert, but I’m with you on this journey!