The moment I cut meat out of my diet 22 years ago, my eating style caused a weight gain of over 50 pounds. My jiggling belly bellowed my need to lose weight, but I ignored it for sandwiches of oily mayonnaise, cheese, and potato chips. Throughout my 30s and 40s, I melted cheese on everything, used diet pills and grunted half-hearted attempts at exercising. In the spring of 2012 (I ran my first 5k in June), running seemed to melt more fat off my body, and I thought I had found the answer to losing weight. I was burning more calories, yes, but my nutrition was still dirty. I needed to clean it up, so that spring I got serious about my weight loss and:
… Changed my mind about what I was eating
Changing my mind to adapt to a life of less fat and less salt was not easy. Sugar was not a problem, but my mind had grown accustomed to thinking about cheese-mayo sandwiches, pancakes, pasta, deep-fried French fries, and more cheese. To learn to think differently about these foods I needed help, so I enlisted some accountability: Weight Watchers online. I needed to see how these foods rated against healthier options with the Weight Watcher’s point system.
… Kept a notebook and started eating cleaner
After about six months, I left Weight Watchers unsatisfied with the point system, and doubtful that I would do it for a lifetime. So on my own, I bought a notebook and wrote down every honey bun (300 calories each), and bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos, and the times I ate them. I also started hearing about the Eat-Clean Diet. Diets never worked for me so I was not too excited, but the concept appealed to my need for a lifetime change. Eating clean is just about nixing processed foods and filling your diet with fruits, veggies, grains, – foods that are in their natural state with no preservatives. As I systematically cut the snacks in my notebook and relied more on natural foods, I realized that I was already following the Eat-Clean Diet.
… Used bowls and chopsticks for my cleaner food options
So, Tosca Reno, the clean-eating guru who looked years below her 50’s, became my hero. I watched for articles where she spoke about clean eating such as this one, and continued to adjust my diet (I still had macaroni, tortillas, and pancakes at times). In addition, I forced myself to use small bowls instead of standard-size dinner plates, and chopsticks instead of a forks or spoons – a few mind games here. The bowls shrunk my portion sizes and the chopsticks forced me to take my time and put smaller chunks into my mouth. When I finished my meals, I never felt hungry; because I took my time to eat all the food in my bowl, my belly felt full, which satisfied my mind.
These days I do not need to keep a notebook because I took the time to clean up my dirty nutrition. About 90 percent of my current daily diet is fruit and veggies: juiced, stir-fried, stewed, or raw. Clean eating took me beyond vegetarian and vegan food choices and helped create a healthier mental, as well as physical change.