Everyone starts Clean Eating with the best of intentions. From "I want to be healthier" to " I need to lose X number of pounds"...but despite our goals, Unclean food is always lurking silently in the wings - ready to give you a bacon wrapped Twinkie hug. Last week, I wrote about asking yourself "Why Clean Eating?" to keep yourself on track. This week, I'm thinking about altering your perceptions of food in order to really wrap your head around "This ( a banana, yogurt, a bowl of oatmeal, a turkey meatball, a hardboiled egg, an apple ) is an acceptable food." and not "This ( a bag of potato chips, processed meats, white bread, soda, Pop*Tarts ) is an acceptable food."
1. Examine, think, cogitate, ponder - heck, even grok this: Food is nourishment for our bodies.
Nothing more. Your body is a machine. You put food into your body to fuel the machine.
The machinery of your car takes gasoline to fire the combustion engine. Not maple syrup. Not Diet Coke. Put either of those in your car, and you are signing the death warrant for your car. The machinery of your body is a little more forgiving than that of a combustion engine, but the end result is the same. Put fuel in your body that slowly fouls the machinery - and your body's machinery will inevitably fail.
2. As a society, we are all about self gratification. The thinking has regressed to "I deserve this." and "I've worked hard for that." and even "This will make me happy."
But did you? Did you work hard for it? Or is it convenient? Does it scratch that nagging itch in the back of your mind that food is a reward? A replacement for some happiness missing in your life?
Food isn't love. Food isn't companionship, Food isn't a reward.
Have you ever thought of yourself as self indulgent? Do you have a hard time denying yourself things? These are serious issues to examine and think about; the inability to rise above a shortcoming like this is an issue. You need to put on your big girl/boy panties and really think about it. Is it an immaturity? Is it a self doubt? What is that is urging you on to repeat this mistake, over and over?
3. Think back to the manner in which our ancestors ate: from the hunter-gatherers of pre-historic times, to the more agrarian, less nomadic peoples of the last 2,000 years. They survived just fine without Dr. Pepper and Cheetos. While life expectancies then were short mainly due to lack of medicine and poor living conditions, when food was abundant, those people thrived. Why? They ate the foods they could collect from their local area, they lived off the growth from their gardens and ate directly from "the source." - None of their food was factory made, mass produced. It was a simpler time. If you planted a pumpkin, you ate pumpkins. If you had too many pumpkins, you traded with your neighbor who kept chickens. If there was a walnut tree within walking distance - walnuts graced your table.
Of course with the advent of the supermarket, we now have access to thousands of products - many of which are unhealthy, full of preservatives to extend shelf life, and loaded with salt, sugar, or fat to appeal to our more base side.
When you go to the grocery store this week, I challenge you to bring home only those foods your ancestors could have found ( regardless of their climate ). Bring home fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and dairy products. Look at the product and ask yourself: Did my ancestors have access to this food? Don't bring home those that were invented in the last 150 years. Don't bring home any that detract from your body's machinery instead of enhancing it. Don't bring home a food that you roll your eyes afterwards and mutter "Why on Earth did I eat that??"
Changing your mind about what food is, and what it means to you is a core thought process behind Clean Eating. Anyone can say "I'm not going to eat processed foods!!11!" To really carry that out and adopt Clean Eating as a lifestyle in these Gummy Bear and Diet Coke times, one must really, truly wrap your head around the pivotal concepts that food is fuel, food isn't a reward, and food that was invented for the modern lifestyle and modern supermarket are largely unwholesome.