Ahhh Wellness Wednesday, my favorite!
So today I wanted to bring up a topic that seems to be everywhere: clean eating! I thought I would share with you my clean eating journey, how I stay balanced and what clean eating means to me these days.
To me, Ambitious Kitchen is a clean-eating focused food blog. Although I do have many baked goodies, many of them are healthy, better for you versions of my favorite treats. Some favorites include these banana chocolate chip muffins, the dark chocolate raspberry oatmeal cookies and even these ridiculously delicious chickpea blondies. Over the past few years, I’ve started baking with more unrefined sweeteners and focusing more on the actual nutritional value of the recipe, versus just the calories. This helped Ambitious Kitchen be what it is today and above all, I hope it inspires you to eat better, learn a little about food, get creative and have a balanced, healthy relationship with food.
As I guided AK (and myself) to become a health-focused food blog, I also learned a great deal about new foods and how to bake and cook with them. This clean eating journey wasn’t easy. I mean for the most part, I was eating clean about 60% of the time, but I knew there were certain areas that I could improve such as baking with grain free flours, unrefined sweeteners and healthier fats. So I started experimenting A LOT. I baked gluten free goodies and switched up my carbs for healthier ones like sweet potatoes. I used coconut oil instead of butter. I ate more vegetables and REAL food instead of packaged protein bars and sweet potato fries.
I wanted to share what clean eating is, what it means to me and how I approach it with balance.
So, what exactly is clean eating?
Clean eating is NOT a temporary diet. Clean eating is a lifestyle and a way that you choose to eat. When you choose to eat clean, you eliminate many processed and refined foods. Clean eating is NOT a trend, it’s simply choosing to eat fresh, seasonal, wholesome, healthy food. Typically clean eating means avoiding packaged or boxed food, eating of the earth often (lots of veggies + fruit). It means looking for simple and few ingredients that you can actually pronounce. Basically your going to be making DIY versions of your favorite things: salad dressings, sauces, granola bars, salads, marinades, bread, desserts, etc.
My initial thoughts on clean eating:
So after I first thought about clean eating, I had several questions. Does clean eating mean you can’t eat bread? So does this make me gluten free too? What about paleo? And yogurt comes in a container, so is that out? SO CONFUSING.
After doing some research, I realized that it really depends on how far you want to take it. It’s a little unrealistic to expect for something never to come from a box, bag or can. And when did wheat become so terrible? (Unless you are GF, of course!). Wheat is not the devil and either are carbs. Paleo is great, but for a lot of people it’s only great sometimes. Often times I’m eating paleo for a day and don’t even realize it (salads, chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, almond butter, etc.).
My clean eating philosophy:
Clean eating should allow for flexibility. You need to make choices that are right for your personal self. For me, I absolutely eat greek yogurt because I love the protein and probiotics it provides me. I don’t eat bread often, but sometimes I really enjoy a sandwich so when I choose to buy bread, I look for bread without any added sugar and 100% whole wheat or sprouted. I’m not a huge regular cheese fan, but I’m never not having cheese on my enchiladas. When I’m with Tony, sometimes I eat french fries. Two times a year, I enjoy a big, juicy cheeseburger. I make elaborate cookies, cakes and pies with way too much butter for special birthdays.
BUT for the most part (about 80% time) I’m eating clean. And that is 100% okay with me. For me in particular, a healthy food balance is great for my mental health AND my physical health. For two years during and after college, I didn’t touch a cookie, piece of cake, french fry or ice cream. Chocolate was off limits too. I was clean eating to the extreme. I even sacrificed my love of baking because I didn’t want to eat any of the final product.
These days, enjoying a cookie or frozen yogurt helps me to stay satisfied. Having a slice of cake at a birthday party makes me want to work out a little bit harder the next day. It motivates me just a little bit, but without any guilt. Now I enjoy those ooey-gooey cookies (even if they are baked a little bit healthier).
A concern about clean eating:
Lately I’ve heard of many young women taking clean eating to an extreme to the point where it becomes an eating disorder. Have you heard of Orthorexia? A few of my readers have asked me to address it in a Wellness Wednesday because it’s a fairly unknown, but common eating disorder. My guess is that it may be becoming more common due to our society’s obsession with looking perfect. Plain and simple, there’s a difference between eating healthy and an obsession with eating only certain foods because they are healthy. Please make sure to talk to someone if you think you might be struggling with this. Trust me, it helps.
My balanced approach to clean eating:
I eat clean most of the time, but I also indulge myself in treats that aren’t clean but often put a smile on my face. I want to create a life that’s enriched with food, culture, but also making sure I’m providing my body with fuel for proper energy. And that’s what keeps me fulfilled.
A quick note:
This may be completely different for you. Everyone’s approach to eating and their relationship with food is never the same. Most of all, I love that we’re all able to share our experiences with one another without judgment.
Please take the time to leave a comment, it always means the world to me and I know others in the AK community love seeing them too!
This week’s questions:
1. Do you practice clean eating?
2. How do you stay balanced while you eat clean?
You can read more Wellness Wednesday posts here.
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