Guilty Pleasures

I’ll admit, one of the things that always turned me off to certain diets or eating plans is the fact that I LOVE food. And I have a bunch of guilty pleasure foods that I know are bad for me, but still taste so good! For example, these french fries:Clean Eats 5My mouth is watering just thinking about them! And while I realize that french fries are doing my body absolutely no good, they make my heart happy. So what’s the balance here?

Just like when it comes to defining clean eating, you’ll find different schools of thought regarding guilty pleasure items like this. Some will tell you never to indulge. Others will tell you to schedule a “cheat day” for yourself where you can enjoy anything you want. But I am happiest with the concept of moderation. I hate blowing my clean eating lifestyle with an entire calorie-and-junk laden day (plus, I usually feel yucky afterwards) but I still enjoy my french fries if we go out to a restaurant that serves really delicious ones. My strategy is to balance it out with a clean main dish. The fries above are from one of my favorite burger places near our house – so instead of eating a huge, greasy burger with my fries, I choose the grilled chicken sandwich without condiments or cheese on a whole wheat bun. I also like to load it up with extra nutrient-dense veggies like fresh spinach or avocado if I can (usually this only works if we bring it home, because fast food vegetable options are limited!). Likewise, if you go out to a restaurant and really want a big, juicy steak – then get the steak! But instead of piling up mashed potatoes or mac ‘n cheese on the side, choose a double serving of steamed vegetables. Or if you know you want a chocolate milkshake for dessert, make your meal ultra nutritious with lean protein and lots of vegetables.

One quick note about this: I think it’s important to understand the reasoning behind this approach, and keep a healthy mindset. I do NOT like the idea of “saving up calories” for a treat, or “punishing” yourself for an unhealthy choice by eating extremely restricted for other meals. You should be able to eat the things you enjoy without any guilt or extra stress! Instead look at it like this: if you know you want a treat that is not going to nourish your body, make sure you’re giving it the nourishment it needs with the rest of your meals. Don’t keep things from your body, give it the things that it needs! If I want french fries, I’m going to have french fries – but I’m also going to make sure that my body is getting vitamin-rich vegetables, healthy grains and enriching protein as well.

And keep moderation in mind. If you want a slice of cake, do you need to eat a giant slice as big as your head? Probably not – and you probably won’t even enjoy it afterwards, because you’ll be so full you’ll feel sick. Nor do I get the jumbo size fries to go with my grilled chicken sandwich. Eat the things that you love, but don’t overeat them. Again, balance!

Guilty pleasures don’t need to be guilty. You can live a clean eating lifestyle, and still enjoy the not-so-clean treats that you really love. This is the benefit of looking at clean eating as a lifestyle rather than a “diet” – you are focused on the big picture of your health and wellness, versus getting bogged down in the tiny details. Enjoy!

Do you have a guilty pleasure? How do you like to keep your balance so you can enjoy the treats you love while eating clean?

Guilty Pleasures

What is Clean Eating?

Clean Eats 4Who would have thought the word “clean” could have so many different interpretations? But, the reality is, if you do a Google search on “clean eating,” you will find hundreds of different interpretations on what clean eating is and isn’t. Ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out which interpretation best matches your needs and goals. But if you want to check out the recipes on my blog and are curious what guidelines I’m personally following, here’s a brief rundown of what clean eating means to me!

For the purposes of this blog,

Clean eating IS…

1). Choosing quality, nutrient-dense foods.

2). Cutting out “junk” calories – like white flours, added sugars, and preservatives (just to name a few!).

3). Focusing on body-boosting fruits and vegetables, and incorporating them into every meal.

4). Choosing lean proteins, and using non-meat protein sources where appropriate.

5). Trying to choose the least processed options where available.

6). Still enjoying delicious, flavorful food that will fill you up and keep you healthy!

Clean eating IS NOT…

1). Strictly vegetarian or vegan – I still like meat (and my husband has jokingly threatened to divorce me if I drop meats entirely)! However, many recipes can be modified to fit a vegetarian or vegan diet if that’s what you prefer.

2). Grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free or any other free… I will definitely try to include some recipes with these options (and recipe modifications, where possible), if that’s the sort of clean eating you need to follow. However, we don’t have any specific dietary requirements of this sort in our house, so we don’t abide by any of these restrictions.

3). Expensive. Yes, there are some specialty ingredients that are more costly, but I try to keep these to minimum. We’re not millionaires, so I don’t grocery shop like one!

As you can see, my definition of clean eating is pretty broad, and that’s one of the reasons I love it! My family can still eat healthy, delicious food without having to be overly restricted in our options. Now, if you are trying to use clean eating as a means to lose weight, keep in mind that portion control is still important – don’t assume that because this food is healthy that you can stuff yourself uncontrollably at every meal. However, because the emphasis is on vegetables and fruits, you’ll find that you can add a lot of bulk to your meals without adding a lot of extra calories. Also, another great best practice for any person (clean eater or not!) is to consume LOTS of water every day. Set a goal that is practical for yourself, with a minimum of 64 ounces a day. I aim for 96 ounces per day (more if I have a strenuous workout), and love water flavored with lemon, cucumber, other citrus or fresh herbs.

If your definition of clean eating differs from mine, and you still want to use some of my recipes, please feel free to reach out to me! If it’s possible to modify the recipe, I’d be happy to offer suggestions. But if you’re simply looking for a way to improve your overall health and wellness, then my guidelines should do the trick! Clean eating it not a meal plan, it’s a lifestyle – and a commitment to your health and happiness, which can be just as fun, delicious and convenient as any other way to live.

What has kept you from eating clean in the past?

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, personal trainer, dietitian or nutritionist – I’m just a busy woman who loves to eat clean! If you have specific concerns about your health and wellness, please contact your own doctor or other professional directly.

What is Clean Eating?