Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why can't I eat clean?

I have recently started to take a closer look at what I eat on a daily basis.  I pretty much always thought I was a good eater but I do have a pretty strong sweet tooth.

For some time I have seen challenges out there to eat cleaner and give up processed food.  That got me thinking about all of the processed foods I eat in a day...

Here are a few from the weekend that I have consumed:
Ice cream
Peach rings

And most likely a few more that I am forgetting, but those are the major ones.

I also started thinking about what exactly "processed foods" means. I don't think I actually know what is and isn't a processed food.

Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural state.

So I am trying to revamp my diet to include less processed foods and try to clean foods in their natural state.  And it is pretty hard. 

Breakfast seems to be the easiest meal for me to eat clean because I am on a smoothie kick and so I have coconut milk with frozen banana, peanut butter, and spinach.  But peanut butter is processed, right? And I love peanut butter.

Lunch is a bit harder for because even if I pack a salad for lunch, I do like my salad dressing and I do love some cookies or animal crackers.

Dinner usually is a decent meal with a meat and two vegetables but often as bedtime approaches the freezer or cookie jar calls my name to eat some ice cream or more cookies.

Guess this whole clean eating is going to be harder than I thought, but I think it might be worth the challenge.  I just need to decide how intense and extreme I want to get with what I eat.  For me, giving up cookies (or dessert) is not really something I want to do so maybe I need to make sure I always have homemade cookies in the house which I know are better for me.

Having a garden in the back yard is definitely helping me to eat better and it is a start.  We now have even more vegetables than before in the fridge which makes choosing a healthy snack even easier. 

I am interested in your thoughts on eating and processed foods. How do you make it work?

A few articles I read: Here and Here and Here


Marlene said...

I've never been able to stick with it. It's not so much the sweets (although I do love those...) but the convenience foods, like prepared salad dressings, condiments, granola bars, etc. I just can't be bothered to make all of my food from scratch. :/

I figure, as long as I keep trying to make as many clean choices as I can, at least I am doing something right.

Good luck!!

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

I agree that it can be tough to do. Breakfast is fairly easy, but in the afternoon I get snacky and just want some crackers or chocolate something. For Tina's Best Body Bootcamp, one of my two main weekly goals is to eat minimal to no processed foods. Of course this sort of depends on the day, but I've been fairly good. Today, the only thing processed I've had is a jolly rancher. I think you're fine with pb. Still something healthy that's providing you protein and fats and is probably fine if you're buying a natural version.

Rebecca said...

Good thought-provoking post, girlie! I SHOULD eat cleaner, and I think I eat fairly clean but could be much, much better. It is definitely quite challenging with SO MANY processed foods at the store, and limited time.

I pick and choose my processed foods and try to stick to "healthier" choices, such as Kashi granola bars (still processed, but more whole foods based) and wasa crackers. But you know I gravitate towards some less healthy choices - *cough* torilla chips and candy *cough* - more often than I'd like to admit. I have horrible self-control/restraint!

Although I eat primarly foods made from sctratch at home, and plenty of fruits and veggies, I could cut out more of the "bad" stuff. I am hoping that opocorn maker will help me.... fresh, warm popcorn with some oil and salt = yum! (and "healthy" tortilla chip substitute!)

Rebecca said...

Okay, I just read those 3 articles. Good articles, for sure. Some general comments:

- CBN article: I agree that foods with trans fat, MSG, and HFCS should be avoided like the plague as much as possible. As the article says, MSG has many names. Trans fat needs to be looked for in the ingedients list with the key word "hydrogenated."

- Yes, most peanut butter has trans fat. Even though it says "0" grams on the nutrition lable, its in there. Anything less than a gram they can round down to 0. This is why I buy organic peanut butter. Ingredient list: "peanuts, salt."

- Dig Inn post: I agree for the most part, esp. on the deli meats. But frozen veggies? Yes they might be processed a bit, but the ingredient list is just vegetables. Maybe some vitamins come out when they're boiled, but if its frozen veggies versus none, I'd take frozen!

- US News article: I got to #2 and stopped... because the canned tomatos made me think of BPA (which can be in the lining of the can, and leach into the tomatos). This is exactly issue with food and nutrition research, and trying to eat clean: there is sooo much info, you could drive yourself nuts trying to stay away from all the bad stuff in our food.

I think the key is defining what "processed" means for you, as you said. And maybe making substitutes for things you still really want, such as cookies - homemade is a good compromise!

Sorry this is sooo long... Its nutrition, and thus naturally one of my fav subjects :-)


I was just telling my husband tonight after I finished a run that I really want to eat cleaner. Im going to try to eat cleaner meat, vegs, and fruit!! Erica

Johann said...

I'm a very bad eater but always choose to rather run a bit more than eat less or better :)

Rena said...

Err. I don't. I am an all or nothing cook. I eat ramen for days and then spend hours making a perfect meal for one night. Then go back to my ramen kick. :( It doesn't help that I have a wicked sweet tooth too. I think I'll start small and replace some of my snacks with sweet fruits. Strawberries are in season!

Tera said...

I did the 2012 whole living challenge cleanse for three weeks. It was really extreme especially the first week but after successfully completing that it's been a lot easier to stay away from processed foods. I did it after a marathon though because it was hard to get enough protein the first week. You could probably make up your own version though! Also, you can make raw almond butter or other nut butter pretty easily at home in a food processor and I wouldn't consider that processed.

RunToTheFinish said...

the August challenge on RTTF is Clean Eating, so if you want some accountability I know that is what will help me!!

I agree with you that I think I eat clean until say I wanted to do the challenge and really started to examine all the things I eat. I'm excited to do it rather than apprehensive which i think makes a big difference

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I think I do pretty well at not having too many processed foods. Having a gluten intolerance sort of forces me to be better about that. But I still have things like peanut butter and salad dressing and things like that. I think it would take so much time to eat no processed foods, I am not sure the benefits of goign that route would make it worth the effort! So I just try to limit it as much as possible!

Anonymous said...

I have little knowledge about nutrition and wish I would know more and do better. I try to eat veggies and fruits, but end up eating chocolate!

Elizabeth said...

I see this as really tough not just from an "I want sweets" perspective, but from a logistics perspective. I eat sweets very frequently-- definitely every day, but I eat small amounts of them. I really admire anyone who can eat clean and I think it probably does make a difference. But I don't see anything wrong with some ice cream every so often!

Anonymous said...

I struggle with a lot of the same issues. I want to eat clean, but also want to eat things that taste good.

Laura said...

Clean eating is soooooooo hard. I am currently reading a book that's inspiring me to try to eat more cleanly though - Scott Jurek's "Eat and Run." Far from preachy, it's more about the differences he notices in his body based on what he fuels it with. (And for the record, he tries raw veganism and decides he doesn't like it - so I think it seems pretty honest.) Check it out!