I love getting mail my fans and readers; YOU! I often ask if I can answer any questions publicly as a way to not only help their own unique question but to help others at the same time.
Lisa emailed me a few months back. She has concerns about how to balance clean eating and losing weight without being nutrient deprived.
Remember folks, my answers are based on my nutrition background and my personal opinion. I am not a Registered Dietician nor a Doctor, but an individual that strives for optimal health. What works for me may not always work for you.
Hello! I just found your blog this evening and have loved reading it! I am at a point in my life where I need to take my health more seriously. I’m battling depression and anxiety and am looking for ways to take care of everything in my life, diet and exercise included.
How can I balance the clean eating principles while trying to lose weight? I’m concerned about eating too many fruits and veggies vs. having enough grains. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? I really want to get this right! Thanks! 🙂
Lisa A. Jones
There’s a starting point to everything. And often those starting points are intimidating and mentally challenging to wrap your head around. Life can bring a lot of stress – relationships, family, work, finances, but add weight loss to that equation and it can seem dark and lonely. So many of us use food as a comfort device to help bring some kind of joy or happiness into our lives. Eating trigger foods like fried foods, candy, sweets… even alcohol gives us false happiness. Emotional eating is one of the leading causes in weight gain and un healthy eating. Although the other extreme is not a healthy choice, either. Not eating and constantly exercising can also lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. So, where is the happy medium?
Implementing a new way to eat and view food is something that does not happen over night. It needs to be a gradual process, like taking baby steps. Start taking on a challenge that is too large can and will lead to disaster. Taking gradual steps can lead to a lifetime of success from the very first day.
Educating and prepping is also a very important step. You want to be both physically and mentally prepared for your new lifestyle. Think of it as packing for a trip – you make a list of things you need, pack the day before, do a recheck, then check again. You can never be to prepared.
The first step would be to obtain as much information as possible. Whether that be through books, the internet or talking with others, you need to be prepared. You should have recipe ideas, facts on food and reasoning to why you should and shouldn’t live a healthy lifestyle. When I first started eating clean, I was already reading healthy food blogs. I loved seeing different recipe ideas, new food products and new stores to shop. I educated myself on food ingredients, what to avoid and why, success stories of others and the health benefits from eating whole, raw food. I am the type of person that needs to have solid, true facts. I needed proof that this new way of eating and living was going to change my life for the best!
The second step would be to plan your food and prep your kitchen! Stock your pantry with dried legumes, grains, whole wheat pastas, natural sweeteners, olive oil, sea salt, herbs and always keep fresh fruit and vegetables in your fridge! Throw away the potato chips, sweets and other processed foods that could lead to poor choices. This is very important in the beginning as you will not be as tempted to eat certain foods when faced with stress or a growling belly.
Don’t set a date, just start doing it! Slowly transition yourself and your way of living into a more health conscious state. When I first started I would journal my daily eats as it was a great way to reflect and examine how I was doing. It allowed me to see my weaknesses and to work on the areas that I needed help with. I never counted calories but that is also another option that helps people with their goals.
So getting back to Lisa’s question regarding eating too many veggies or fruit or grains… my answer is pretty simple. Follow what your body is telling you. I know this answer is pretty vague, but let me explain. After a few years of eating clean and then clean/vegan, I know my body does best on a high raw diet consisting of a lot of fruit and vegetables. I will add grains a few times a week but for the most part it is all produce. However, this may not work for you. If you are worried about getting enough variety, take your plate and divide it into these 3 sections:
As you can see, you want 50% or more of your meal to consist of healthy fresh produce. Greens are great and should be consumed on a daily basis! Your protein source could be beans, legumes, tofu, seitan, or meat if you are choosing not to eat a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle. Instead of making protein the main item on your plate, we only need a very small amount to live a healthy life and feel satisfied. Grains need to be kept healthy, too. No white flour or rice. Choose brown or wild rice, quinoa, spelt, and whole wheat pastas. Once you start changing and learning to view food differently, it will become second nature. Your body, mind and soul will thank you and let you see how healthy you can really become!
So, to reiterate, take. it. slow. If you start to feel overwhelmed take a deep breath and figure out why. If you make a mistake or mess up, just let it go. There is not point in holding onto that negative thought. Keep looking forward at all times and learn to love whole, natural food AND most importantly, YOURSELF!