I spent years living off caffeine-induced energy and mid-afternoon sugar hits to get me through the day. You know what I’m talking about — the office vending machine gets slammed between 2-4 pm as you and all your coworkers stumble like comatose zombies to get the afternoon fix. But the M&M’s (or if you’re like I was, the Caramel Frapp) is simply spiking your insulin to deliver a short-lived surge of energy and then bringing you back down faster than a parachute-free skydive. Ever wonder why you get home from work and feel like tearing everyone’s heads off? Toddlers aren’t the only ones who suffer from our dear friend, Mr. Sugar Crash.
Although it takes time and dedication to see big results with your weight loss goals, there is one thing that has an immediate effect — eating clean! Higher energy levels, stronger hair/nails, healthier skin, fewer infections, easier menstrual cycles, less moodiness — these are just some of the benefits of eating clean.
Domestica’s Top 5 Guidelines
for Eating Clean
(and how I went from a size 12 to a size 2)
5. Eliminate Refined Sugars
Think of everything in your local bakery, those fancy frapps, and your entire office vending machine. That pretty much sums up the refined sugar you should not be eating. And please do not think that artificial sweeteners are the answer to cutting out refined sugar — because they’re not. Your body treats both like poison but chemically-derived sweeteners have been proven to stimulate your appetite (not the best thing for someone trying to lose weight). Start training your taste buds to live without sugar! You’ll be shocked at how easy it is.
I started by simply ordering my fancy coffee drinks with one less pump of sweetener. Then, after a few weeks, I reduced it again by another pump. I kept going until I didn’t need a single pump of sweetener to enjoy my coffee. Now, I even drink it black! Pigs are flying somewhere, I’m sure.
4. Healthy Fats Only
I have never once counted fat grams. True story. So long as you are consuming good fats while still keeping your calories in check, you’re body (and your brain!) will thank you. So stay away from the potato chip aisle, deep-fried…anything, and other man-made type fats. But it’s a good idea to start consuming more good fats like avocado, raw nuts, healthy oils (coconut, olive, etc) and sticking to lean meats only.
3. If It’s White, You Probably Shouldn’t Eat It
White bread, white rice, white tortilla shells, white pasta…these are all refined grains. Swap for whole grains as often as you can. Just because a pasta is brown, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s non-refined grains. Many companies have played up the “multi-grain” and “all-natural” claims and will even add a teensy bit of whole-grain flour to make the product brown. Truth be told, it’s often made up of less-costly refined white flour. You pay more thinking it’s “healthy” and they increase their profit margin since it’s really just a refined product.
Don’t buy grain products unless the ingredients outline whole grains (preferably sprouted whole grains as they are even less processed).
Clean Eating is also about clean drinking! And that means: water, water, water. If you missed it, read my article on why water is important with some easy tricks to remind yourself to drink more of it. Find a healthy water bottle (I love my Life Factory glass bottles the most — no need to worry about chemicals leeching into your H2O) and just like Paris Hilton and her silly dog/rat, make it a permanent accessory.
Of course eliminating refined sugars means you’re not having soda (do I even need to say it?!), but eating clean also means eliminating your alcohol intake. If you want your metabolism to operate like a fine-tuned machine, alcohol is like putting dirty oil in your engine.
1. Forget the Fads
This is not a short-term challenge or a low-carb this, caveman-diet that. You need to treat this like a path to a better you, for life. And that means, taking small steps toward healthier eating habits until they become the norm. I promise you — clean out your diet and you will never look back.
Remember the mantra: If man made It — I probably shouldn’t eat it.
If you’ve read that list and are thinking to yourself, “wow, that sounds like a whole lot of suck!”, take heart! It took me years to get my body, my taste buds, and my knowledge level to where I am today. And the best thing about following clean eating habits is that you can live by the 90/10 Rule. I eat clean about 90% of the time and allow myself to indulge the other 10% or so.
In the beginning of my clean approach to eating I would often use that 10% to devour cinnamon buns, french fries and plates of nachos. After getting more and more conditioned to how great it feels to eat clean, I now have the occasional frozen yogurt or glass of wine and not only get the mental benefits of indulging in something I want but by making smarter choices, don’t feel like a truck ran me over afterward. It’s a win-win!
If you’re starting to eat clean for the first time, do yourself a favor: go and purge your entire kitchen right now! You won’t regret it.