First off, to all of my friends who have started to eat cleaner, good for you! What an awesome lifestyle change.
Secondly, I want to start out with a "disclaimer" of sorts. While eating clean and organically is very important to me, especially in the case of my daughter, it is not important to everyone. And that is okay. Maybe you don't eat as well as you would like, but you exercise daily. Or maybe you don't eat as well or exercise as much as you would like, but you work two jobs to provide for your family. All of those things are okay. Whether I am writing about pregnancy, toddler tantrums, or clean eating, I want my message to always be that you are doing just fine. All moms who love their kids are good moms and should never feel judged.
Josh and I started to "eat clean" when I found out that I was pregnant with the Moose back in April 2011. We had been trying to clean up our diet before that, but being pregnant was the kick in the butt that we needed. We switched to an organic diet, which we have stuck with ever since. I would say that 90% of our food is organic. We also gave up most processed foods, including things like salad dressing.
Since the Moose has started eating food, we have been
So, as someone who has been doing this "clean" thing for awhile, I figured I would add to the discussion and share what I have learned. I am neither self-righteous nor I am a nutrition expert, so take this for what it is worth, which is just my opinion.
* Start by avoiding the "dirty dozen," which are the top 12 fruits and veggies that contain the most pesticides. Those are the foods that you should always buy organic. The same list (there are 50 fruits/veggies total) includes a "clean fifteen," which are the 15 fruits and veggies that contain the least amount of pesticides. Those are safe to buy conventional. The entire list can be found on ewg.org. There is also a handy app for your phone. This is a great tool because it allows you to switch to the most important organic foods, while giving your bank account a break. Dirty Dozen / Clean Fifteen
Moose eating a freshly picked tomato
* Give it 6 months. Once you commit to organic for 6 months, you won't be able to go back to conventional produce. I am not kidding about this. The thought of buying conventional peppers literally gives me the same feeling as touching a public bathroom door handle does. It gets in your head.
* Give yourself a break. I would say that after almost 3 years of making a clean eating commitment, we are about 75/25 clean food/not so clean food. We eat healthy during the week and then relax on the weekend. Sometimes, if we are tired, we lapse during the week. It keeps us from going insane and gives us something to look forward to. Life without pizza is a life that that I am not willing to accept. Same thing with lapsing on vacation. I had a milkshake for lunch today. Not like a protein shake, but an actual dairy fat with coffee and chocolate chips milkshake. It beat the hell out of the salads that I have at home.
* Switch from vegetable oil to coconut oil. It is such an easy switch, but it can make a huge difference in your health. Costco sells a giant tub of organic coconut oil for around $16.00. It will last you forever. I love Costco.
* If it comes from a natural source, it is probably better for you. A perfect example: real butter is much better for you than any butter substitute that is really just a tub of chemicals that was made in a lab somewhere.
* Switch to grass fed meats. They are low in Omega-6s and high in Omega-3s making them much better for you than traditional meat. Because we live in the country, we buy directly from a local butcher. If that is not available, Costco sells organic, grass fed ground beef for a great price and it is conveniently packaged. Did I mention that I love Costco?
* Have good foods on hand at all times and buy a grill. We always have meat and fish in the freezer because it is easy to thaw and throw them on the grill when we are in a pinch. I also make homemade meatballs to throw in the freezer and we keep smoked wild caught salmon on hand at all times (it is Moose's favorite food).
* Real baked goods that contain flour, sugar, and butter are always better. I bake with peanut butter and bananas. It doesn't taste as good. Just accept that now and adjust your expectations.
* If you make it at home, it is probably better for you than anything you can buy at the store and definitely anything that you can find at a restaurant. This one kills me. I love carryout. If carryout did not exist, we would be rich.
* Best tip: you can't miss something that you have never had. Moose has never eaten gluten, so she can't miss pizza and pasta like I do. Human nature makes it almost impossible to take away what people have already had, so just get into the habit of never giving overly processed food to your children. The real challenge to this one is finding balance though because you also don't want your kid to be the weirdo who has never eaten a chicken nugget.
* Don't get all self-righteous about it. We all know the person who loves nothing more than to talk about his or her clean eating. HINT: if you got to this blog off of my Facebook page, you are NOT that person. I don't maintain personal relationship with people like that because no one wants to be judged. There is no shame in enjoying the occasional hot dog.
* Do the best that you can and don't beat yourself up. Sometimes we just don't have the energy to eat healthy. Those are the days that we have a frozen pizza for dinner. One night won't kill you. Plus, if you add organic arugula to the top of the frozen pizza, you can trick yourself into thinking it is a health food. It's a win-win.
Cheesesteak and chocolate. Not one of our better eating
days, but you gotta love vacation!
So, there it is. A few of my healthy/clean eating tips for what they are worth. If you take one message from this blog post though, let it be this: It is my opinion that being extreme anything is never good, so I would advise you that moderation is best. Making a few key changes towards clean eating will make a huge difference in your health, just as keeping a few guilty pleasures will make a huge difference in your sanity and overall satisfaction.