Another clean eating challenge? I know right?? Ew. ;)
No worries, my title should have emphasis on the word personal– I’m not here to guilt you into a challenge but share my own with you!
It’s one of those things that we love to hate- a set of rules, a challenge, a stretch of time that seems like forever… and having to say no to things that we want. But every once in a while, we all need a reset! The problem for me with most of these things is that the rules are usually outside of my own food “convictions”, and they’re such a huge change for me that it’s easy to get discouraged. Cheating almost feels justified. After all, this big mean evil food program is hardly letting me live, right??
Last year I did a challenge called the Whole30. You can read about my experience in another post here. It was… fascinating. :) The challenge itself is a good one, but it was such a drastic change from my normal diet that it didn’t agree with me. (A friend who did it with me had awesome results!) The food convictions that the creators of the Whole 30 designed the challenge around are not ones that I have myself, so it was difficult for me to restrict myself from having things I believed to be healthy and beneficial for me.
But a lot of things about the Whole30 were great, especially how it changed my habits to make me naturally reach for whole foods, and taught my taste buds to have a greater love for home cooked, natural food tastes versus highly processed fake food.
So where can I find a clean eating challenge that fits my own food convictions, challenges me to clean up my diet and has rules that I can actually follow?
I’m going to make my own. :)
For the next 30 days (Starting April 25th, 2016), I’m committing to eat a certain way. But it’s not some crazy crash diet. I’m going to be eating the way I’d like to eat all the time.
Let’s be real: we all have healthy eating ideals. But we don’t always live up to them. I’d LOVE for the rules of this challenge to be the existing standards in my own life. As of now, they’re not. But I think if a challenge like this can stretch me and help me to get just a little bit better at nourishing my body, it’s so worth it!
I’m not asking you or challenging you to do this with me, although you are more than welcome to if you’d like! This is something I personally want to do for my own health. These food standards might be much more strict than what you already stick to, or they might be much more loose! I would encourage you to think about doing one of your own. Think about your own food ideals. How would you like to be eating? Not “how would you like to be eating in a perfect world where time and money were no object”… but something better than your norm… that’s within reach. And if you decide you want or need support, you are more than welcome to do your challenge at the same time as mine, and we can be in this together! Just comment below, and I’ll get in touch! :)
(And hey, if you decide you want to do a challenge at a time when I’m not doing one… I’d love to be around to support that too.)
So here’s my plan:
- Mostly whole, unprocessed foods. I want as few foods as possible to come from a package. Fresh vegetables (cooked or raw), fresh fruit (cooked or raw) and meat that hasn’t been pre-seasoned or precooked before it’s cooked and seasoned at home. I would really love to cook a whole lot more during these 30 days; for myself, my family, my friends, my church and my community.
- Whole grains and organic (or grass fed) dairy. I have been back and forth about the cow’s milk dairy thing for a while, but I know that I would much rather have organic and/or grass fed if I’m going to have any. So I’m raising that standard! Also- grains are something that I believe in! But whole grains, preferably organic, are going to be what I focus on during this challenge. (And they’ll be gluten free, but only because of my food intolerance.)
- No sugar, HFCS, or any artificial sweetener. I’ll stick to pure maple syrup, coconut sugar and raw honey for any sweetness needed!
- High standards for packaged food. If food comes ready to eat in a package, it needs to be as close to whole as possible! This means avoiding ingredients I wouldn’t have in my own pantry, no MSG or GMOs, and I’m looking for a super short ingredient list. 3-5 maximum, preferably.
- If I want a treat, I have to make it myself! Pizza is great, bread is great, cookies are great… but the food industry rarely makes them wholesome or healthful. So there’s no limit on things like this for me, as long as I’m willing to make them myself and they still fit into the previous four rules! And if I were to find a packaged treat that adheres to those rules (which I doubt) I will most certainly treat myself!
Are there exceptions? Yes. If food gets in the way of relationships, it’s not worth it to me anymore. So in the case that I’m invited out to eat with friends, someone cooks for me, or there’s an event or party and the food doesn’t fit my challenge, I will do my best. If that means picking only the fresh fruit and veggies from a food table or having just a small portion of a dish that’s outside of my standards or ordering something that’s to the best of my knowledge within the rules, I’m satisfied with that!
Want to challenge yourself? Want to join me in my challenge? Let me know using the comment section below. I’d love to hear about your journey. :)