Written by Tonia Richards
Tonia, the discoveries you have made through healthier food choices just reiterates for me the power of diet. Thank you for sharing your story and putting so much energy into this article is it so wonderful to hear stories like yours and people need to hear that small changes can make a huge difference. Tahlia
How clean eating changed my life…
Prior to meeting my husband 5 years ago, I considered myself a very healthy person, both in terms of the foods which I ate and in my activity levels. I ate loads of vegetables and didn’t eat much take-away food along the lines of McDonalds or KFC. I wasn’t overweight yet, but probably would have ended up if I had stayed on the same trajectory.
In reality I actually ate quite poorly (once my hubby Jase gave me the honest truth) – rice crackers and dip (every night), wine (most nights), massive bowls of pasta (most nights), Indian/Thai take away foods (weekly), ice-cream (weekly), muesli bars (daily), sandwiches (daily).. The list goes on.
Although some of these things are considered healthy, when you crunch the facts, they really aren’t (for example, bread contains a very high sugar content and causes blood sugar levels to peak and then drop, rice crackers are full of salt and way too many carbs to count, take-away foods like Indian and Thai curries contain high amounts of fat).
Yes there are much worse options, but the health and wellbeing felt when these items are removed from ones diet is truly amazing.
A quick point to reiterate before I continue, fats and carbs aren’t necessarily bad! We all need fats and carbs to do what we need to do everyday – live!
It’s just that both the quantity and types of fat and carbs that we eat make a massive difference to our health and wellbeing. ‘Good’ fats include the fats found in nuts and avocados, for example. ‘Good’ carbohydrates include those found in vegetables and fruits and smaller quantities of grains such as brown rice.
So upon realising that I could make a huge difference to my health and wellbeing (and that I was approaching 30 years old and my metabolism was no longer what it was at 21!), I decided to take a leaf or two out of Jason’s book (his history on ‘clean eating’ is a whole other story).
It certainly wasn’t an overnight or 100% change as we all know that isn’t sustainable long-term (we all need our ‘treats’ on occasions!). But the most trans-formative thing of ‘clean eating’ is the positive effect on how one feels day to day.
When one is eating the right foods, without processed sugars, refined carbohydrates and other nasties, it can literally feel like the body is ‘humming’.
This becomes even more noticeable when foods that don’t provide good nutrition are re-introduced to one’s diet – one can feel instantly ‘crap’ when a poor food choice is made.
This feeling can be likened to a ‘hangover’ but without the alcohol, just the consumption of bad food. I truly believe that some people don’t know what it feels like to have their nutrition on point.
One thinks one feels ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ but if you take the time (and perseverance through the hard first few days of withdrawals!) to eat the right foods then it is very likely that you’ll feel better than you have ever felt.
If you get it right, you can enjoy literally double the energy on half the food intake!
The main theme to the way we eat is lean protein (unprocessed meat, eggs, some cheeses (cottage cheese), tofu, for example), carbohydrates (veggies, some fruits, small amount of fermented sourdough at times, for example) and fats (nuts, avocado, for example).
Of course we stray at times (and then feel terrible after!), but that’s life. We try and keep to these principles on the weekdays and if things slide on the weekend or if we are out for dinner then that’s fine.
If one is looking to lose weight, then we recommend utilising a ‘formula’ to determine how much of each component (protein, carbs and fat) to eat each day, to aid in weight loss.
There are various ways to do this (and numerous apps available), but the key is to eat only what is required to maintain function (and you are by no means starving!) which will ensure weight is lost and not gained.
If you use an app like “My Fitness Pal”, you will be shocked at the amount of calories you actually consume each day. Put in more than you use, and you’ll gradually gain weight. It is said that it is typical for sedentary workers to gain a kilo per year, every year and both my husband and I can both attest to this ringing true.
We can also both attest to the benefits of keeping an eye on both the number of calories you are consuming and the macronutrient makeup of your meals if you’re looking to shed some unwanted weight. As a general rule, each meal should contain a decent portion of protein, unprocessed carbohydrates (fruit and vegetables) and limited fats. It’s very easy to consume too much fat, and you need to consider the quantities of oil you use in cooking, for example.
Another key point to consider is the carbohydrate density of foods. Half a cup of white rice, for example, contains more carbohydrates than several heads of broccoli! When you switch to obtaining carbs from vegetables, you will never feel hungry! Not to mention the vitamins and minerals gained from vegetables which are not available in processed carbs.
We find one of the keys to clean eating involves a bit of organisation and preparation. ‘Ugh I have no time’ you say! But actually, an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon literally saves hours during the week, and you always have healthy nutritious food on hand. It doesn’t have to be complicated at all! Breakfasts can be prepared ahead of time – bircher style oats with protein powder, berries, almonds and dates (left to soak overnight in the fridge). Lunches can be roast veggies and roast meat (easily done ahead of time), and dinners can be stir-fry’s (opt for cauliflower rice instead of real rice, or a third of a cup of brown rice) or even ‘pastas’ made with vegetable noodles (pesto chicken with zucchini noodles is seriously delicious!).
Another trick is to find foods/dishes that are delicious and feel like a ‘treat’ when in fact they are very healthy. Eating well won’t be sustainable if you are eating boring and bland foods. As resenting the food you are eating and not enjoying it is certain to end badly and likely to end up with you making poor nutritional choices. When you enjoy the foods you are eating it just becomes a way of life and becomes second nature. We find that (on weeknights especially) things need to be simple and easy to prepare. There are endless recipes available free on the internet that cater for this way of eating, and once you find some favourites then you’re sorted!
Go on, give it a go! Even if you just commit to 4 weeks, and then see how you feel after 4 weeks, and you can re-assess whether you feel a positive difference. It might just be the start of a new healthier you!