June 18, 2015
Everyone has a starting point.
My starting point is pretty much my whole childhood into high school. Clean eating was not even on my radar. I thought I knew what it meant to eat healthy but, I didn’t worry about it too much. I ate what I wanted and definitely had too many cookies and candy. But I was a very active kid. Looking back I was practically doing three major workouts a day when you count gym class, practice for whatever sport I was in and then working out when I got home, maybe even playing outside with my friends on top of that. At the time I didn’t even realize how much I was working out. I could eat whatever I wanted because I was so active. I also needed to eat a lot because of my constant calorie burning. Then came college.
Realizing and believing that what you eat matters.
In college I realized that I could NOT be an eating machine without exercising. I gained 26 pounds in one semester! Ugh. And guess what, it takes a lot longer than one semester to lose that. (I write more about my weight loss journey on my About page.) This is when I began my first attempt at controlling my eating. It was not fun. The college that I went to often gets voted #1 for best campus food. And they get that title for good reason.
So, after getting some amazing advice from a sweet cousin of mine. She told me something like, “You can’t go on a diet, you have to just live a lifestyle.” I learned that I need to make changes that will become a part of my life. Eating things that are healthy and tasty. I began with altering my breakfast.
For breakfast, I limited myself to a bagel only a couple times a week. Otherwise I began eating a banana and yogurt. I never knew I like yogurt! This might not seem like a big change but it was for me and so I took it slowly and adapted to my new breakfast routine before changing much else. I also tried to stop eating around 7 pm. This gives your body time to digest and reset for the next day. By the time I graduated 3 years later friends and family that didn’t see me very often were complimenting my weight loss. This felt great and was motivation to continue working out, eating right and losing the remaining 10 or so pounds I still had left.
Incorporating more fruits and veggies into every meal.
After college, I began to adjust my lunch. On my best days I covered half my plate with vegetables and on my worst day I ate the vegetables along with chips and other snacks. I also made dinner a priority so that I wouldn’t be hungry in the evenings. This way of living and eating lasted me about 5 years.
Beginnings of eating clean (and not just eating healthy).
I wasn’t quite sure how to title this section so let me explain it. Basically at this point I was eating quite healthy. Lots of fruits and veggies but still carbs and some processed foods here and there. I had added more healthy eating in than I had taken the unhealthy out.
I began taking the unhealthy out when I ordered my first Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA or Co-op, basket (click here to learn more about what that is).
About a year ago my husband and I decided to try out a CSA basket for Summer Session II. It was different than than the fruits and vegetables we were used to eating and we really had to adjust meal planning just to get through the basket in a week without stuff going bad. (Click here to find out what to expect by season according to the Southeast region). We were receiving so many peaches that we had to eat about 2 or 3 a day to get through them (it’s a hard life) and I learned to cook a ‘Pot of Peas’ like a champ. It was fun and super tasty so we decided to sign up for the next one we could. At that point it was too late for Fall so we did Winter.
In the Winter we got lots of lettuce, spinach, kale, strawberries, and more. Something interesting happened during these months. My husbands cholesterol numbers were in a normal range – the first time in at least 6 years. I was losing more of my baby weight and after struggling with depression for about a year I was off my meds and feeling good. We were also feeding our children healthy foods from local farms and they were discovering things they really liked, such as asparagus, tomatoes and salads. It was really cool!
We have taken a lot of the unhealthy out of our diet because we are full on our fruits and veggies! You see, eating fresh fruits and veggies mean eating natural vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals naturally tell your body when it is full. Therefore you get full faster (than eating processed foods), eat less, and lose weight! On the flip side, processed foods and even fruits and veggies that are sprayed with pesticides or given additives so that they will keep longer will not give your body that full feeling. They confuse the body, which is why you could eat a whole pack of oreos in one day. Our CSA basket was naturally allowing us to cut out the unhealthy in our life.
Eating clean is a lifestyle.
This year we went all in and signed up for every CSA session that was available. We began picking up our basket the first week in April and will pick up the last one the second week of December. As I write, we are about 3 months in to living a CSA-lifestyle and it is great! I am buying more produce than ever to compliment our basket. I am proud to say that my 2 year old enjoys snack on tomatoes, grean bean crispers, and any fruit. My 4 year old is a little pickier but loves her asparagus, zucchini, and squash. I can’t imagine not doing the basket and am considering getting a larger size next year. (Yes, there are different basket sizes to consider. Click here for 9 other things to consider when signing up for a CSA.)
For me, the basket is the easiest way to eat clean. Every Tuesday I must go pick up my basket and I must try to eat it within a week so nothing goes bad. If I don’t pick it up or eat it then it is money down the drain which I do not like. If you are thinking of trying to eat clean you have to set yourself up for success. Take baby steps, don’t give up, do what works for you and forget the rest. I just wanted to share my path to clean eating in hopes that it might help you find yours! Remember: it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
Oh, and also…
Enjoy life and everything in moderation is ok.
If you are trying to lose weight and it seems hopeless, check out my About page to read my story of losing the 26 lbs I gained in college. Hang in there and you can lose the weight too!
Also, if you can’t tell I love my CSA basket. Check out my Top 10 Reasons You should try a CSA.
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