My 30 Day Clean Eats Challenge
By Amy Crawford
As many of you know, particularly those who follow my daily food consumption on Instagram and Facebook, I am nearing the end of a (self imposed) 30 day 'clean eats challenge'. I am doing this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was becoming a little too liberal on the sugar front for a while there. Now I don't mean the dirty white stuff, I mean in the form of extra fruit like bananas, apples and oranges, or raw honey and maple syrup. Just a little here and there but enough to start weakening my immune system and the sense of inner calm I had grown accustomed to. It had become a habit that was manifesting. Secondly, I had a sense that my increased sugar intake (not to mention some of my food choices) was creating a little restriction in the wardrobe department. I was feeling bloated, there was definitely fluid retention. So what I decided to do was call upon my lovely friend Gen, my now ex Personal Trainer, who knows a thing or two about 'paring down', about cleaning things up. I must make it very clear that this 30 day cleanse was designed for me specifically, knowing what my body needs (that is, good quality protein as an example). This post is not a recommendation for others though I hope it gives some of you the inspiration you need to make positive changes to your diet.
So below I outline the 'rules' and parameters of the diet and exercise program, as prescribed by my Gen. As a result of a hefty work load, a momentary lack of 'balance' and some corresponding poorer food choices, a couple of months ago I started experiencing some marked energy issues relating to my history with CFS. I am going to speak more about that another day. Taking into account those often limited energy levels Gen put together 2 plans, as listed below.
My thoughts? Listen to your body, work hard, commit. If I am a gauge to follow, I promise you will feel the positive results quick smart. The changes for me include much greater clarity of mind, loss of bloating and fluid retention, really clear and glowing skin, a sense of vitality and much greater inner calm. I have included a couple of other noticeable, positive results at the bottom of this post.
Plan 1 - Minimal Exercise & Clean Eating.
1. Walk - Go for a fast power-walk first thing in the morning. Don't eat breakfast, just get up, chuck some clothes on, grab the dog and go! Aim to be out for more than half an hour, walk fast, walk some hills, you don't want to be totally out of breath, but you don't want to taking a leisurely stroll either. Do this every morning! If you can incorporate other exercise such as weights or sprints please do, but if not, walking will definitely do.
2. Carbs - Zero starchy carbs! No sweet potato, no pumpkin, no quinoa, no brown rice, no oats, no sprouted bread, no grains, and no fruit (except perhaps a small portion of berries but that's it)... capiche? For 30 days you are only permitted protein, fats and vegetables.
Acceptable veggies include all your greens (broccoli, beans, peas etc), salads capsicum, cabbage, caulliflower, brussel sprouts, cucumber, celery, asparagus, mushrooms...you get the drift.
3. Protein - Ideally you need to be eating a serve of protein and fat at every meal. Lean meats are preferred (chicken, turkey, organic red meats, fish and eggs). Ensure your meat portion sizes ortion are between 100-130g. If you had eggs, 2-3 organic whole eggs. Be aware that smoked salmon and other smoked meats are incredibly high in sodium.. with high sodium comes water retention making one look more bloated than what they actually are.
4. Fats - Enjoy fats at every meal... but just 1 teaspoon ok?! Attempt to avoid nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter for the simple reason that they are very calorie dense and it all adds up. Coconut oil, organic butter, avocado and olive oil are definitely acceptable. Please avoid all dairy. Yoghurt is acceptable in limited intakes...a scoop or 2 of yoghurt every second day if you must have it!
5. Meal Times - 4-5 meals per day, spaced 3 hours apart. And water, water, water!
6. Treats - I think you know what I'm going to say don't you?! Treats need to be kept to a minimum or none at all for best results. I'm a firm believer if you have a goal, commit to it. There will always be time to indulge later! And if you chose to eat a meal out, still stick to the guidelines of proteins, fats, vegetables and no carbs.
This is an example of what my meal and exercise plan has looked like for the past few weeks!
Brekkie (after a fasted walk) - 2 eggs poached with 150g mixed spinach and mushrooms cooked in 1 tsp coconut oil or organic butter plus 1/4 avocado (home made guacamole) red onion, lemon juice, pepper, pinch of Himalayan seat salt
Snack - Green smoothie made with low sugar coconut water. Be sure to avoid fruits, except berries if need be, and either a scoop of yoghurt or avocado for creaminess and texture. Avoid Almond milks at this point.
Lunch - 100g-130g salmon or chicken breast with salad (example: baby spinach, roasted capsicum, roasted red cabbage, sauteed brussels sprouts and mushrooms) with 1 tsp olive oil and lemon juice (no added avocado or nuts etc.)
Snack - Depending on the time and your hunger levels, small handful of nuts. Or for something more substantial, another small piece of lean meat with 120g of green vegetables of your choice
Dinner - 100-130g organic red meat or lamb or any other meat of choice (avoid really fatty meats) with 150g salad or green veggies again. If you cooked the meat in coconut oil, then just add 1 tsp of either organic butter or olive oil to dress your dinner once cooked.
Plan 2 - Vigorous Exercise & Clean Eating.
If you can do more than the morning walk please do. The above meal plan still stays the same, but increase your meals to 5 instead of 4, all the time monitoring how you feel. If you ever feel shaky or really ravenously hungry, you may increase your fats slightly, but do not exceed 1 tablespoon if adding coconut oil or organic butter to a meal.
So there you have it, my 30 Day Clean Eats Plan. I am nearly through the end of it but will be tacking on a couple of days (I have been only 95% perfect!) for good measure. The one thing I have noticed is that my craving for sweetness has disappeared completely. However, I have definitely craved fat and have needed to up the fat a little (teaspoon in a nut or tahini jar soon sorted that issue!). I have also grown to love the simplicity and lack of choice in my diet. Eating just whole foods, and a limited selection of those makes life so much easier.
If you are looking for more simplicity in your diet and need further inspiration around that you will find 42 simple and inspiring recipes in my eBook, A Nourishing Kitchen, if not already. You can purchase that right now, here.