One Week Clean-Eating Challenge
First of all, you might be thinking "what? I thought this was supposed to be a sugar-free challenge!" It was. But as I was writing this post Tuesday night, and after thinking over some of the comments I received, I realized that it would actually be irresponsible of me to ask all of you to do a detox of any sort. I realize there's a tricky line with blogging and giving out unqualified advice. I never want to harm anyone, and in this case I think my excitement just got the best of me, and as I was typing it out I realized I need to be a bit smarter. Although I fully believe that making healthy changes wouldn't do any harm whatsoever, there are tens of thousands of people reading this post, and how am I to know what your medical or nutritional background is? I do believe that cutting out all sugar is a great idea, but if you are going to do so it might be best if you speak with a medical professional. For me the switch was great- and I do think that because I already ate well it was an easy change. But I don't know that everyone who reads this blog is in the same boat, and I would hate to make any assumptions, especially when dealing with someone's health. Thanks to Vanessa and Lindsay for your thoughtful comments on the matter that really got me thinking. You all know that I'm not a doctor or a registered dietician, but I feel comfortable encouraging all of you to just be healthier and eat REAL, whole foods.
So with that said, I thought it would be much safer and a better idea to encourage all of you to eat clean for a week, beginning Monday, January 30th. This means you would still avoid sugar, but fruit is a-okay. If you want to try this out, you'll be focusing on WHOLE foods, no refined sugars, no processed items, and also cutting things out like white pastas and breads if you'd like.
If you feel this is too much to commit to- maybe you eat fast food everyday or have a sweet tooth- maybe choose one area to focus on throughout this week. Perhaps you want to promise to forgo all processed items, or just not eat any refined sugar. Any way you want to do this is great- it's all about what is best for you.
And what is clean-eating? From my fave clean-eating lady (Tosca Reno's) website: "It is eating the way nature intended. You eat the foods our bodies evolved to function best on, and that makes you feel – and look – fantastic. When you Eat Clean you eat more often. You will eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. These practices keep your blood-sugar levels stable and keep you satisfied."
I thought I'd post this well before the weekend so you have enough time to prepare your kitchen for the upcoming week. I'm going to tell that you that it's going to be hard, especially if you're used to eating processed food every day, but I promise you if you stick with it for these seven days you will feel great at the end, and maybe even want to keep it up in some way or another.
On Sunday night I'd recommend preparing some of your base foods so you don't feel stressed during the week. Be sure to make a big pot of quinoa if you can, chop up veggies and put them in easy to access containers in your fridge, and make any of the big items you'll eat each day. I often will cook some chicken breasts on Sunday evening so I can just grab them and go throughout the week. And If you work you're also going to want to take time each night to pack a healthy lunch and snacks for yourself.
Also- I know it can be hard to do something like this when you have an entire family to feed, or even a partner who may be supportive, but isn't into changing their diet. First of all, remember this is just for a week. A lot of the recipes I've included below are really, really awesome and I believe that all people would be into them, even without an open mind. Also remember that as far as meals go, you aren't that limited. You can eat everything that is whole and natural. Let's say your partner is a meat and white potatoes kind of guy or gal- well, you can do meat and sweet potatoes! Family likes pasta? Try quinoa (see my linked post on it above). Make little changes and I bet your whole family may get on board.
I thought it would be great to round up some recipes around the web for inspiration, followed by quick meal ideas.
Ricotta and Spinach Frittata (you can make this on Sunday and eat it throughout the week- it will be enough for four breakfasts.)
Quinoa pancakes- just don't take her sweet topping suggestions! ;)
plain Greek yogurt with sliced almonds
a slice or two of Ezekial bread with almond butter
Wasa crackers with almond butter and a few berries
steel cut oatmeal
Lunch: (this is tough to separate because I eat the same things for lunch and dinner)
Salad with my homemade, favorite salad dressing
Pizza made in the oven/toaster oven on an Ezekial tortilla
beans and avocado with salsa
baked or microwaved sweet potato with broccoli and cheese
bowl of quinoa and steamed veggies
healthy, homemade soups
Portabello mushroom pizzas- be sure if you use tomato sauce try to avoid unnecessary, added sugar- Trader Joe's makes a great one, but you can also just mash up some Roma tomatoes to stand in for the sauce.
big salad topped with protein of choice (chicken, salmon, etc.)
Sweet potato/black bean/quinoa burgers
Chicken Taco Stew (omit the taco seasoning in favor of your own spices- those flavor packets include a lot of nasty additives and preservatives)
Walnut-crusted chicken breasts (be sure to use an Ezekial bread slice rather than the whole wheat specified in the recipe)
Quick Kale and Quinoa Minestrone
bean burritos with fresh salsa
Edamame with sea salt (you can buy ready-to-microwave packs at Costco)
Wasa crackers with almond butter and a few mashed up raspberries
hummus and veggies
plain Greek yogurt with sliced almonds
pieces of cheese and meat rolled up
raw nuts (raw means unroasted, no salt, etc.)
To recap, remember you are eating whole foods- fruits, veggies, lean proteins, healthy grains, nuts and seeds. No processed food or refined sugars. No soda! The more colorful your plate the better, so be sure to focus on variety in your meals. The recipes and meals I listed up above are just ideas, so feel free to look around online and get creative.
When it gets tough, remind yourself that this is not a punishment, it's actually a reward. Nothing feels better than being healthy, and I know that at the end of this week you will feel great when you look back and know that you only ate whole, healthy foods for an entire seven days. And if you mess up, do not give up! It's all part of the journey. Just make sure the next thing you choose to eat is on point.
Here are a few clean-eating blogs to check out: one, two and three! The last one is my most favorite. And here is a large collection of recipes on the Eat-Clean website.
And if you're on Twitter, be sure to keep me updated via @danihampton and use the hashtag #SScleaneating so we can all follow along. I was going to just use #cleaneating, but it's a well-used tag and wouldn't allow all of our tweets to be in an organized feed.
Oh! And also, if you end up cooking and blogging about an awesome meal, send me the link! I will share it next week so everyone else can get inspired too.
Get ready...Monday will be here before you know it! I'm so excited.