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Clean Living Magazine

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What Clean Eating Means To Me

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If you are interested in supporting my writing, please visit my Patreon page to find out how you can donate as little as $1 a month to help keep me afloat: patreon.com/kristenforbes.

Clean eating is one of those terms that seems like it should be fairly cut-and-dry but often ends up ambiguous. Some people who eat clean are more strident than others (you’ll recognize them from the “NO” and “NEVER” language they use). I’m personally a fan of balance. I think a person can maintain a clean diet the majority of the time and still have indulgent treats now and then without feeling any guilt. I think there are some situations (like Date Night at a gourmet restaurant) when it makes more sense to aim for portion control than for clean foods. And I think that restriction leads to deprivation and deprivation leads to binging, so I’d rather avoid restriction altogether.

This is what clean eating means to me.

When possible, I choose whole, real foods. I am in an ongoing love affair with fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve found joy in making my own versions of things I would have previously bought packaged, like granola bars and soups. In terms of satiation, I know that eating an apple will satisfy me in a way that eating a slice of apple pie never will. Real foods fill me up without making me feel weighed down.    

I avoid processed, fried, and fast foods as much as possible. I’ve found there’s a healthy alternative to any food I could possibly crave. Baked sweet potato or carrot fries do it for me in a way that fried white potato fries never did. Ice cream is as simple as blending a banana and adding in some mix-ins.

I aim for unrefined foods (brown rice, quinoa, honey, maple syrup) over refined (white rice, white bread, sugar). There are so many ways to sub in healthy ingredients when cooking or baking. I like to swap butter for avocado, sugar for unsweetened applesauce, and whole wheat flour for white.

I eat protein, carbohydrates and fat (preferably a little of all three at most meals). I won’t let anyone tell me I need to avoid X type of food in order to maintain a healthy weight. I don’t need to avoid ANY type of food. Balance is always my goal. 

I refuse to be afraid of food. If I’m hungry, I eat. I wasted too many years stuck in the cycle of believing it was normal to go for hours upon hours without eating. This was always followed by delirious hunger and a desire to eat way too much to compensate. It’s so much easier just to feed my body when it’s hungry and walk away satisfied. 

I eat several small meals throughout the day. This is especially important because I work out a lot. I need food for fuel. I need food for recovery. I need food throughout the day.  

I drink as much water as I can handle and sip on herbal tea when I want something beyond water but limit my alcohol and coffee intake (I haven’t had any alcohol or coffee in 2016).

I do not count calories or macros. I try to eat as much real food as possible and I also try to honor my hunger. If I’m craving a handful of walnuts, I’m going to eat a handful of walnuts. If I eat a regular portion of food and still feel hungry, I’ll add a piece of fruit. I refuse to obsess over how much I’m eating or burning. I’ve found that by eating a mostly clean, healthy, and normal-portioned diet, everything works itself out without me having to think about it too much.

I do not think of my way of eating as a diet because it’s not a diet. It is a lifestyle. This is the way I eat every day. Some days I have extra clean treats and some days I have treats that aren’t clean at all, but I always come back to clean eating as my mainstay.

I don’t believe in absolutes. I worry for people who say you should NEVER eat X. I have no intention of going the rest of my life without cupcakes, but I’m also not going to eat a cupcake every day or even every week. When I have a cupcake, I’m going to enjoy it for the treat that it is.

I don’t believe in the concept of cheating. I think food is food. My diet is 90-100% clean a lot of the time. Some days, I eat snacks and meals that aren’t so clean. I don’t view this as cheating. In order for it to be cheating, I would have to eat something I’m not allowed to eat. In my mind, I’m allowed to eat whatever the heck I want to eat. I simply choose to eat the foods that fuel me the best and make me feel the best — most of the time.

Being in control of my food empowers me. Knowing exactly what I’m putting into my body helps me to know I’m not absorbing toxic ingredients. If I were to go to a fast food restaurant right now and order a snack, I could not tell you what exact ingredients I’ll consume or how exactly my food will be prepared. When I make my own meals based on a handful of whole ingredients, I know I’m fueling my body to get through the demands of working out, running, and living my life.

Clean eating and clean living is a choice. I don’t choose to avoid bagels because I think it’s what I ought to do. I choose to go for whole wheat bread over a bagel because I know how my body feels when it eats a bagel: heavy, sluggish, and slow. As someone who runs 150 miles a month, I consider myself an athlete. As someone who works from home, I know the importance of feeling alert throughout the day. Making certain food choices enables me to power through my life efficiently. I’m not depriving myself. I do not need anyone’s “Still on that diet, huh?” pity.

I believe in the power of fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. The difference in how I feel when I eat clean is undeniable. I used to eat foods like boxed macaroni and cheese made with powdered cheese, processed fake meat products, artificially flavored chips and crackers, and store-bought cookies and cookie dough without batting an eye. I’d inevitably feel terrible after consuming these kinds of foods, but I’d just keep eating them. I lived in a near-constant state of feeling terrible. Antacids were part of my daily routine. I felt too tired to work out. Sometimes I felt like my entire body was coated in grease. Now I eat real, whole foods. I make healthier versions of the snacks and desserts I always loved. I’m able to run long distances. I’m able to sustain vigorous workouts. I’m able to live my life without feeling weighed down. That’s why I eat clean. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. And the pudding, of course, is made from avocado or silken tofu with unsweetened cocoa powder.     

 

 

 

 

 

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DIY Day: Making Your Own Natural Citrus Bath & Kitchen Scrub

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If you are interested in supporting my writing, please visit my Patreon page to find out how you can donate as little as $1 a month to help keep me afloat: patreon.com/kristenforbes.

Last year it was fun and beneficial for me (in a plethora of ways) to transition from a mostly processed diet to one that focused on clean foods. I realized that by simplifying ingredients, gravitating to real foods, and removing all the weird chemically-sounding additives that had no business being in the foods I was consuming, I felt so much better. Yes, I lost weight. Yes, I got slimmer. Yes, I started wearing smaller sizes. But none of that compares to the fact that I actually FELT so much better. I was less tired. Less sniffly. Less gassy. I generally get sick several times a year and often for weeks at a time, but knock on wood I haven't been sick once since I started eating clean. My daily napping and antacid-popping habits have been eliminated. My energy level has increased and I feel lighter and better in my body.

My big goal for this year is to clean up other areas of my life, too. Specifically, I would like to cut down on the amount of chemicals and harsh ingredients in my household cleansers and the products I put on my skin, hair, nails and body. If I feel this much better after changing what I put into my body, i can only imagine how great I'll feel when I change what I put on my body.

My goal is to try one simple DIY project a week. Let me emphasize the word "simple." I think there are few things as frustrating as trying out a new recipe, whether it's for food or some other product, only to be intimidated by the number of ingredients and steps involved. There's always that one ingredient you've never heard of and have to track down at some very expensive natural store, and then proceed to use a tablespoon of it once and never again. There's always that one step you didn't read ahead of time and don't realize until it's too late that you were supposed to chill something for 24 hours and meanwhile it's two hours until you're trying to take it to a party. I think the main reason why so many people don't cook healthy food at home is because they assume it's complicated based on the recipes they've been exposed to. I'm not interested in complicated. The whole point of clean living, to me, is to simplify things. So on this blog, I will only be trying simple projects.

 

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That's how we find ourselves here: making a lemony household scrub with two — TWO! — ingredients. This recipe ran in the October 2015 issue of Clean Eating Magazine and it was created by Lauren Toyota, one of the masterminds behind a fun blog called Hot For Food. This blog specializes in all things clean and vegan: foods, beauty products, and cleaning products. For my first foray into the world of clean living, I can think of no better place to start. All you need is 1/2 cup of baking soda and the juice of one lemon. 

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Put the baking soda in a bowl or other container.  

 

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Juice a lemon.  

 

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Add lemon juice to baking soda.  

 

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Mix with a spoon to form a paste and voila! 

 

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I used a sponge to spread the paste over my bathtub and bathroom sink.  

 

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After spreading the mixture around and letting set for 10 minutes, rinse with warm water. That's IT. You're done. And let me tell you, when I was done, my bathtub was sparkling.

 

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My sink sparkles now, too. I'm a full believer. I cleaned my bathroom — like, it is NOTICABLY cleaner in there — and used no harsh chemicals in the process. I'm sold. I will not be buying bathroom cleaners anymore now that I know how simple (and safe) it is to make my own.

If you're interested in reducing the amount of weird ingredients and going more natural with your diet, beauty, and household products, check out Lauren's blog (I have never met her, have no affiliation with her, but really like what she's doing). And be sure to check back with this blog too as I experiment with more fun, clean, SIMPLE projects in the future.  

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