The phrase, “clean eating” has gotten a lot of attention lately. But what is it? Is it just another fad diet? If you ask ten different people, they will probably give you ten different answers, but here are some commonalities…
Basics of Clean Eating
- A lifestyle (not a diet) that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods.
- A regimine focused primarily on raw vegetables and fruit but also leaves room for seeds and nuts
- Although it is not primarily focused on being “Gluten free” and “Dairy free,” it is.
- A conscious way of eating that does what is best for your local environment and the planet
And this is all good.
But I can remember my own story, one where I had a bad experience with an unhealthy fad.
My Personal Story with an Unhealthy Fad
When I was in high school, I was sucked into the LOW-FAT FAD, and while reducing saturated fat is not a bad thing, the diet industry has a way of turning a good idea into a bad one. Yes, like everyone else, I ate entire boxes of fat-free Snackwell cookies while refusing to eat salad dressing (with healthy olive oil in it) because it displayed a whopping 32 fat grams per serving on the label.
But I had another problem.
I began to over-focus on weight, food, fat grams, and appearance. My mind was caught up in counting grams rather than enjoying life. I was so worried about my fat gram count that I missed out on some pretty incredible moments with family and friends.
They did not know I missed out.
But I knew.
And it took a strong group of friends, a supportive family, and a true answer to prayer for me to release that inner dialogue. And I have never wanted to go back. Even if I gained a little weight, I knew it was better than that.
So, over the years, as I saw friends do the SouthBeach Diet or go Paleo, I was proud of them for shedding pounds, but I never wanted to do it. While the copies of Wheatbelly were flying off the shelves, they were not flying into my home. I felt almost righteous that I was not focused on food, that I was above all the worry and stress.
But in my attempt not to “worry” about food, I developed some bad habits.
- Too many sweets
- Too much caffeine
- Too much junk food
And I didn’t really “worry” about any of that until I started seeing negative eating patterns in my boys. I have two boys, ages 7 and 5, and even though we have a somewhat healthy lifestyle – lots of sunshine and exercise – I see them following my lead in the area of diet, and it’s not looking good. This past month, Easton had FIVE cavities. I cannot believe I am admitting it, but it’s true. The dentist pulled one tooth and filled four more.
As I was sitting in the dentist office while Easton was being so brave, I thought, “These baby teeth were practice rounds. But his grown up teeth are coming in. I need to make a change now.”
But to what?
To some other fad?
The world of food choice is CRAZY out there. It’s like the wild west. I remember my sister-in-law saying, “I’m glad you are feeding your children eggs. When my kids were young, they said eggs were bad.”
Who is THEY?
Who are we listening to?
I have always liked Michael Pollen’s advice to, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” But that is a bit vague when it’s time to cook dinner, or it’s 6:45 at the baseball game and the hot dogs smell like little pieces of heaven.
So, I started reading CLEAN by Dr. Alejandro Junger (and by reading, I mean listening, because I listen to all my books now – who wants to actually read after all the reading we “get” to do with our kids?)
Anyway, something he said clicked for me. He said, and I paraphrase… It’s not only that YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, but YOU EAT WHAT YOU ARE. When you eat foods that heal your body and help it perform optimally, you crave more good, optimal food. When you eat junk food, you crave junk food. So, my goal is to help my body CRAVE GOOD STUFF.
My Main Goals
- End Unhealthy Cravings
- Use Food as a Source of Energy, not as Entertainment
- Create Healthy, Whole Food Habits for the Family
- Heal Digestive Tract
- Balance Immune System
With that list of goals, I feel good about thinking about food again. It doesn’t feel like a crazy fad. It feels more like joining a movement (with so many other people in the country and around the world) to view food as our primary source of medicine. I think I can get on board with that.
Maybe one day I will laugh as I realize it was just another fad, but it can’t hurt to eat a bunch of green veggies and nuts while cutting out the daily salted caramel mocha and iced lemon pound cake from Starbucks (hypothetically, of course).