I love, love, love to read…and I have read a ton of books about nutrition. One that really made sense to me was the South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston. I read the book and began following its guidelines right before I got pregnant with my first child. I felt great doing it and wish I had stuck with it, but morning sickness got the best of me and I all I wanted to eat was ham on a roll (ugh…and this was before I learned about the dangers of listeria during pregnancy- ah!) and fruit.
The premise of the book stuck with me over the years, though, and it seems to me to be the closest to the clean eating movement that I’ve been obsessed with the last year or so. You should be eating whole foods, foods that come from the earth with as little change from their natural state as possible. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds being the best followed by grains and dairy and meat.
I do not mean to summarize the book (it’s been a long time since I’ve actually read it!) or the clean eating diet/lifestyle. It’s just that as I read about clean eating it reminded me of the South Beach Diet…and these are kind of the guidelines I try to follow.
Since I do like reading about nutrition- online, in magazines, books- there were a lot of things I had already given up, which makes the jump a bit easier. I was never much of a soda drinker, so that was pretty easy to give up. Artificial sweeteners always kinda freaked me out- they just seem so chemical-ly. Whole grain bread? Of course, can’t even remember buying a loaf of white. High fructose corn syrup has been on my radar for years…my oldest (she’s 9 now) actually used to think she was allergic to it! She has food allergies (peanuts and tree nuts) so when she heard me scan labels in the grocery store and say no to something because it had HFCS, she assumed it was like finding nuts in the ingredient list! (We had a good laugh talking about this the other day.)
But all my reading about clean eating lately has prompted me to make some more changes in the kitchen. I have not bought a can of creamed anything, nor a packet to make alfredo or pesto sauce (I used to love those for last minute dinners!). I grate cheese instead of buying bags of shredded cheese. I also make my own seasoning mixes- taco, fajita, adobo. For a brief time I blended up my own bread crumbs…that was a major pain, more because of all the crusts I had to save that kept falling out of the freezer when I opened the door than for the actual blending. Plus, since the bread we buy isn’t really clean (but is all I can get my picky 7-year-old to eat!) I felt like it was kind of useless anyway. I did, however, find a great brand of bread crumbs with far fewer ingredients, whole grains, and even some flax thrown in for good measure! I like to think all these changes are a step in the right direction, and are just second nature now.
I do not “eat clean” all the time, and I am sad to say my children eat clean even less than I do. It is a lot of work! Makes a lot of sense, seems like what I should be doing, wish I was better about going all in on it…I’m just not there yet. I’m baby stepping my way and trying to find a balance between what I know is right and what feels manageable right now.