What kinds of food did you eat growing up?
I was raised on the "standard American diet" of the 90's. If you asked 12-year-old Anna what her favorite foods were, the answers would include:
fudge pop tarts (the Kroger generic brand!), toaster strudels, Pillsbury orange rolls, frozen Salisbury steak, Oreos and peanut butter, macaroni and cheese from a box, Ego toaster waffles, chocolate Teddy Grahams, crescent rolls, Kentucky Fried Chicken, oatmeal creme pies, Hamburger Helper, 100 Grand bars
oh, and Grey Poupon mustard. There were definitely a couple years when I received Grey Poupon in my Christmas stocking and was really excited about it.
Aside from the mustard (and the occasional Teddy Graham...), my diet has turned a complete 180 over the past 10-15 years.
It all started around junior year of college, when I finally had my own tiny apartment kitchen and was officially responsible for cooking some of my own meals. Hamburger Helper and Easy Mac were still staples, but as I grew into independence I began to discover food blogs like Carrots 'n' Cake, Kath Eats Real Food, and Healthy Tipping Point. I immediately became somewhat obsessed with stalking the virtual lives of these these random women who promoted healthy, active lifestyles, and I slowly started to really think more about the food I was putting in my body.
In the winter of 2008 I spent two months at Holden Village, a retreat center which is known for its delicious, made-from-scratch food. My oatmeal and veggie addictions were sparked there, and I never really looked back! (This was the same time period I started running and working out on a regular basis as well, so the healthy living thing kind of clicked all at once.)
I ended up losing around 20 pounds between sophomore year of college and grad school, although it was a very slow up and down process. I don't even own a scale anymore because I'm happy with how I feel in my own skin and I don't want to let a number control my happiness and sense of worth, but that's a topic for a different post. Today I want to talk about FOOD!
My diet these days is MAINLY comprised of the types of food you see in that picture. These are what I call "clean" or "whole" foods.
Obviously I am not going to say no to pizza, pasta, burgers, froyo, and cake when the occasion or weekly date night calls for it, but I try to stick to clean foods as much as possible!
What is clean eating?
There are so many definitions and diets out there these days. Vegan, raw, Paleo, If It Fits Your Macros, gluten-free, Weight Watchers, it's enough to make your head spin. Which one is really the "best?" That's something I've been trying to figure out, and here's what I've concluded after reading a lot of books.
In my personal opinion. the BEST diet is one that hits these three criteria:
1. It focuses on whole foods
2. It makes YOUR body feel amazing
3. It is non-restrictive and intuitive enough that you can maintain it for the rest of your life without obsessing
This article on the art of eating sensibly pretty much sums up my views!
What are whole foods?
I personally define whole foods as literally whole foods. One ingredient things. Fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts, whole grains. Anything that hasn't been processed!
I also consider things that have less than 4-5 ingredients to be "clean" too, like Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, a sprinkle of cheese, the occasional whole grain wrap or splash of cow's milk in my coffee.
Note: I don't have any allergies or sensitivities and go by the "everything in moderation (including moderation)" approach.
When in doubt, don't eat it. If it makes you feel like crap, don't eat it.
If there are weird chemicals in the ingredients list or anything you can't pronounce, then try to avoid or limit that food in your diet. I looooove cereal, but I don't eat it for breakfast because it is basically sugar with vitamins sprayed on, aka empty calories! I might have a handful of Ben's Golden Grahams after dinner if I'm craving something sweet...but I understand that it's a slippery slope to standing in the dark kitchen shoving handfuls in my mouth straight out of the box because those chemicals and all that sugar? They are DESIGNED to trigger addictive tendencies! When was the last time you started eating chips or crackers or cereal or fries and couldn't stop? Yeah, probably the last time you ate chips, crackers, cereal, or fries.
I don't restrict myself from eating things that make me happy...I just try to make a mindful, intentional CHOICE that I am going to eat it because it makes my brain happy and accept the fact that it's going to make my body feel a little crappy afterwards!
Grocery Shopping Tips
Here is a basic go-to grocery list that I share with my clean eating accountability groups I host on Facebook! You can download a copy by clicking on the image or click here.
-Only go grocery shopping with a plan, and a list!
-Never shop on an empty stomach. You will have zero willpower when it comes to impulse buys.
-Stick to the perimeter of the store as much as possible, this is where the fresh whole foods are found.
Clean Eating Resources
If you're interested in learning more about cleaning up your diet and breaking your dependence on processed convenience foods, these are just a few of my favorite books and websites for more information and delicious recipe inspiration!
What do you think? Are you inspired to clean up your diet a little bit?
If you have any questions or want more information on my 1:1 and group wellness coaching services, feel free to contact me. I'd love to chat!