3 Things I Learned From Clean Eating

posted in: Clean eating 75 comments

3 things I learned from clean eating

All my life, I never worried about my weight. I was lucky, blessed with a physique like my father’s, slight and lean. I could eat whatever I wanted (and I did), and I exercised not to lose weight, but to get toned and fit. I took for granted that my body would remain the same, forever. 

And even when it changed because of motherhood, I took it in stride. I was confident that the weight I’d gained after my second was born, would melt off, just like the first time. 

I was wrong.

Not only did I not lose all the weight, I didn’t even make it back to pre-pregnancy weight. I was the heaviest I’d ever been, not pregnant. This did not happen overnight. I did very little physical activity, and I ate all kinds of crap. 

As much as I think women have to be less critical of our own appearance, I had come to the point where I could not deny that the excess weight I was carrying, went beyond how I looked on the outside. It was affecting how I was feeling inside. I was despondent about how I’d let myself go. I hated how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin. I flinched when my flabby belly pushed against tight waistbands. I felt depressed at the fact that I could no longer fit into my favorite clothes. 

Health quote by Lao Tzu

About two weeks ago, I was in a bookstore, and on the way out, I happened upon a book (not an affiliate link) even though I wasn’t really looking. On a whim, I bought it, and read the whole thing the same day. I decided to try the 5 day eating plan recommended in the book (which was part one of a 30-day eating plan). It seemed easy to follow, there was very few ingredients I needed to get, and there would be very little cooking involved. 

I finished the plan last week, and am starting a somewhat modified version on the rest of the plan (due to the lack of some recommended ingredients and personal preference) for the  next few weeks. Here are 3 things I learned about clean eating.

1. Be prepared

I gave myself 5 days to mentally prepare myself to do this. I’ve never been a fan of diets, and generally loathe the thought of depriving myself of my favorite food. But I reminded myself why I needed to do this every day before my designated start date. I also had to prepare my meals for the next 5 days, by shopping for the ingredients and portioning them out as specified. It made prepping all my meals during the plan, far easier and less time-consuming (and made me less likely to give it up halfway).

2. Drinking water regularly is hard

You’d think that such a basic daily requirement would be easy to do. It’s not. I’ve never been a heavy water drinker. I got most of my liquid intake from tea, coffee and juice. I discovered that by leaving a 2.1 litre (71 oz) bottle of water on the kitchen counter with a drinking cup next to it, I found it easy to pour myself a cup to go with every meal and snack, and in between meals. Now, it’s a habit that I enjoy.

3. Healthy food can be delicious

I resisted healthy, clean eating for a long time because I thought it would taste bland. I was wrong. From the 5 day plan, I learned to use seasoning properly. I also realized how much I love the natural sweetness of tomatoes, berries and fruit in general, and I don’t need processed sugar in my food. 

The first 3 days? I won’t lie, it was hard. My body was adapting to the dramatic changes, and I was hungry all day. It made me want to reach out for my usual snacks. But I resisted, and I’m glad I did. By day 4 however, I felt a new energy, a spring in my step. I felt good on the inside, for the first time in a long time. I’ve also learned that I really didn’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, and all the crap I was eating, was not because I loved them, it was out of habit. I’m so glad for my new, healthier eating habits (and the 5 pounds and 3 inches I lost!). 

Have you ever tried a clean eating plan? 

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • November 18, 2013 Chai a cup of life

    Thanks for reminding me about drinking water regulary. I seem to forget this too, especially during winter. On your clean diet can you drink herbal teas, instead of plain water?? Also agree with about processed foods. They are addictive and do nothing for you health wise.
    Chai a cup of life recently wrote…Chicago: living in the windy cityMy Profile

    • November 21, 2013 Alison

      I can drink green tea + 1 cup of coffee, but I still have to drink the recommended amount of water (64 oz a day). So it’s a lot of liquid! Great way to flush out the toxins. πŸ™‚

  • November 18, 2013 NJ

    I’ve been wondering all week how it has been going! We have gone in seasons of clean eating with a little junk and then NOT. Right now, we’re in a season of eating too much processed stuff but I’m still crawling out of the newborn fog. I’ve given myself until after Thanksgiving until I make the switch and swing the pendulum the other way!
    NJ recently wrote…On Picking Battles- Aka Malone Asked For A Warhead For BreakfastMy Profile

    • November 21, 2013 Alison

      You just had a baby, so it’s totally a pass!!

  • November 18, 2013 Allie

    This is so great! Good for you!! I love that you came to this all by yourself and in your own time. I too struggle with drinking water. It’s one of the things I’m not that healthy about. I don’t enjoy drinking that much period so when I have to hydrate for a race or something, I’m always annoyed!!
    I hope you can continue down this path since it’s already bringing you to a better, healthier place.
    Allie recently wrote…It Takes A Village To Get Your Tonsils OutMy Profile

    • November 21, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Allie! At the moment, I am LOVING my new eating ways. I actually get turned off the by thought of processed foods, and I love salads hard. Feeling good and looking better than I ever have in months, have kept me motivated.

  • November 18, 2013 Andrea

    I’ve never tried clean eating intentionally, but I have gone on a health kick from time to time and know how good it feels to eat good for you foods. I don’t know why I don’t stick to a plan like this, considering how good it is for a body. Good for you, for sticking with it!
    Andrea recently wrote…Old School Blogging – NovemberMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Because there are so many tempting things out there! It’s especially hard if you like baking – like me. πŸ™‚

  • November 18, 2013 Shannon

    I always eat a lot cleaner during the summer when there are a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in our region. But then I end up giving into convenience and return to eating crap when the hustle bustle of school starts and fall turns to winter. I need to motivate myself again. Thanks for helping with that.
    Shannon recently wrote…SeventeenMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      That’s understandable! Where I live, we have access to fresh fruit and vegetables year round, so really, no excuses. πŸ™‚

  • November 18, 2013 Herchel S

    What helps me when I begin a clean eating cycle is baking substitute goodies like natural peanut butter cookies with truvia or pumpkin protein bars. The body for life strawberry cheesecake recipe is delicious to me too. They help me get over the sweets cravings in the beginning. Baked goods are my weakness πŸ™

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      They are mine too! But I’m excited to try using more natural produce and cut out the sugar, to create new recipes. I’ve been researching using quinoa in muffins, and using honey as a sweetener. We’ll see how we go. πŸ™‚

  • November 18, 2013 Allie S

    I’ve done the Clean Program (the one based on the book by Alejandro Junger) a couple times, but one succeeded in completing the full 21 days ONCE. It’s hard, and I agree with you, the first 3 days are the hardest. It’s a detox, for sure. But I did feel great when I did it. Not sure why I can’t muster up the gumption to do it again.
    Allie S recently wrote…Barrett TalesMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      21 days is hard! But as they say, it takes 21 days to break habits, and 21 days to create new ones. I imagine day 22 would be easy peasy πŸ™‚

  • November 18, 2013 Carrie

    So timely! Hubby and I started a mostly-clean eating, whole food diet TODAY. As in, I’m on my first meal as I read this. I, too, gained weight after my second baby. I weigh as much now as I did when I was eight months pregnant, and being 30 pounds over my “normal” weight is really catching up to me. Hoping this will do it – it’s not easy for me to resist all the junk food. Thanks for sharing this…I needed the inspiration as I sip my flax-seed smoothie. πŸ˜‰
    Carrie recently wrote…Stocking Stuffers for BabiesMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      How are you doing on the diet, Carrie? I hope it’s going well!

  • November 18, 2013 Kerstin

    That’s great you stuck with it and pulled through. I ordered the book and it should be here by the end of the week!
    Kerstin recently wrote…Old School Blogging in NovemberMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Have you received the book? When are you starting? Tell me how you go!

  • November 18, 2013 Nicole

    I LOVE that quote! I have a hard time drinking as much water as I should too. Probably because I’m totally addicted to caffeine and fountain Coke. We try to eat fairly healthy because we want to set a good example for our girls, and it is amazing how delicious some of the healthiest and simplest foods can be. Keep it up, Alison! You’ll get to where you want to be, especially with the awesome attitude you have!
    Nicole recently wrote…Veni, Vidi, ViciMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Nicole! I’m still eating an almost 100% clean diet, and it’s been 2 weeks since I cut out the junk and added in the water. Still losing pounds and inches, and feeling awesome!

  • November 18, 2013 Christopher D Drew

    Isn’t it great to discover that good food can be good for you. I am still trying to discover that myself.
    Christopher D Drew recently wrote…One Dad to Another: Advice For New Dad’sMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Mostly, I’m surprised that the food wasn’t bland! πŸ™‚

  • November 18, 2013 Sarah

    Eating healthy must be in the air — seems like lots of my favorite bloggers have been doing stuff like this. I don’t usually do very well with strict rules about what I can’t eat (it suddenly becomes an obsession and all I can think about) but I really need to do something to stop eating so much sugar. I am good about eating pretty healthy and drinking lots of water — it’s just the in-between meal snacking that I can’t kick. (It doesn’t help that the office candy dish is way too close to my desk, and we’ve still got Halloween candy hanging around at home!)
    Sarah recently wrote…Menu plan, November 17-23My Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Sugar IS the devil. I’m convinced that most of the weight I gained over the past year is due to all the stuff I’ve been baking, and they ALL require sugar. I still love to bake, so I’m looking at healthier substitutes. Good luck to you, Sarah!

  • Oh yes! I did 2 different 30 day Paleo challenges. The first 2 week detox was the worst. The amazing thing is that once the 30 days was over most of what I was doing stuck. However, it doesn’t take long to fall back into old habits.

    It really is a conscious effort at least for me to keep making those good decisions. Good luck! I’m here if you need me. ((((hugs))))
    @PamelaMKramer – A Renaissance Woman recently wrote…How Do I Get a Pingback Notification?My Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      It’s great that the good habits stick! Though it is easy to fall back on the old ones too. I just have to stay motivated and remind myself why I’m doing this.

  • November 19, 2013 sisters from another mister

    THIS. This is my goal … maybe this week, we shall see how I go …
    sisters from another mister recently wrote…Old School BloggingMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      You look fabulous, Nicole!!

  • November 19, 2013 Luci

    Woo hoo, Alison!! Good for you! I love everything that you said. The book sounds great, even though I only quickly looked at the web page it sounds a lot like what I teach my clients and students. It’s SO good to read someone ELSE (you) writing that clean eating can be delicious after trying it for a while. And, you’re RIGHT that once we get off the loads of sugar and salt that’s packed in processed foods we start to really taste the subtle and delicious flavors of the fruit or vegetable, all by itself. And, finally, what a wonderful admission to the world that you were not happy on the inside as well as the out. Many people don’t realize that the state of the body really does affect the mind. You will be amazed, if you stick with your healthy routine, at how great your life gets (even better still!)
    Luci recently wrote…What Causes a Heart Attack – Things You Might Not KnowMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Luci! It’s good to know from someone like you, that I’m on the right track πŸ™‚ I’m still loving my new eating habits!

  • November 19, 2013 Tamara

    I am so terrible at drinking enough water. I mean abysmal. More power to you. This is something I’d be intrigued to do.
    Tamara recently wrote…Look Ma, No Hands!My Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      I think you look fab already! But yes, clean eating is good regardless. Drinking enough water, essential.

  • November 19, 2013 Ashlee

    Drinking the daily amount of water intake is extremely hard to get used to. People think “oh, I can just chug what I need to for the day and be fine.” NO. That was my thinking and I thought horribly wrong. Not only am I trying to force water down my throat, I’m also taking way more trips to the bathroom until my bladder gets semi-used to it.

    But, as I’m losing more weight, my body requires less water intake, which is nice.

    Keep up the clean eating! It can do wonders for the body.
    Ashlee recently wrote…Time Out, Escaped Toddlers, And Christmas TreesMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      It is doing great things, I am so pleased with the results!

  • November 19, 2013 Natalie

    Yay you! I am so proud of you! I totally need to do some clean eating!

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Natalie!

  • November 19, 2013 runnermom-jen

    Yay, Alison!!! I’m so glad it’s working for you! I love that quote πŸ™‚
    runnermom-jen recently wrote…Healing Runs…My Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Jen!

  • November 19, 2013 My Inner Chick

    Thank you for inspiring me, Alison Lee.
    I am HORRIBLE about my water & fruits!
    Glad you’re feeling energetic. We need you around, girlfriend πŸ™‚ LOVE! Xxx
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…You’re An Effing Super StarMy Profile

  • November 19, 2013 Lisa

    The water part is the hardest part for me. I’m really good about eating whole foods–fruit for snacks, several veggies in every dinner, etc. But drinking enough water is a struggle! I even have a big water bottle at my desk at work RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and I forget to drink it!!
    Lisa recently wrote…Thyme for Fall FoodMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      That happened to me too! Which is why I started pouring it out into a cup, and having it right next to me. It definitely works for me!

  • November 19, 2013 Michelle

    I have never tried that, although we do eat fairly healthy. It does sound like a good way to go though…I could consider trying it.
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    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      I love it because it’s not just a ‘diet’, it’s a whole new way of approaching food, which is why I love it. I hope you do try it!

  • November 19, 2013 Christine

    I have such a hard time drinking enough water even when I carry a water bottle around with me all the time. I don’t know why but I always forget. You’re so right that preparation is important both mentally to get your head around the idea as well as logistically to have the things that you need in your house. That’s where I always fall down – when I don’t have fresh fruit/veggies/etc. and I then resort to eating crap. It’s great that you’re doing this and the way that you’re doing this.
    Christine recently wrote…Teaching Final Done!My Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      I actually have to run to the store midway through the week to replenish my greens, because I’m eating so much salad! (my new love)

  • November 19, 2013 Kim

    So glad you are feeling better, Alison.
    I know what you mean about seasoning. When I changed my eating habits, I noticed that flavour is what was most satisfying to me when I eat. I loved the freshness of fruit and veggies along with the savoury and the spicy of the seasonings I add.
    Kim recently wrote…Know Me Better – Old School BloggingMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Seasoning makes the dish!

  • November 19, 2013 Leslie

    Admittedly, I’m not at the point quite yet where I’m willing to give it all up (even for a few days) to lose weight. I definitely admire your perseverance. Good job on losing those 5 pounds!
    Leslie recently wrote…Confession…We Cheated for ThanskgivingMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks, Leslie! It actually wasn’t very hard for me, because I didn’t have much to give up. I already don’t drink soda or eat candy. My weakness? Baked goods. Specifically, the kind I bake myself. I was baking weekly and eating most of it! And everything was filled with sugar and sometimes, butter. But I’m having fun looking for new recipes using healthier substitutes.

  • November 19, 2013 Keely

    I’m so proud of you!! I bet you feel completely awesome, too. Streamlining is always so, so good. And if anyone can rock this, you can. (Now I need you to come up with some clean eating baked goods. Because you can never leave me hanging on that front, got it? Never.)
    Keely recently wrote…I’m Totally Having A Boy. Unless I’m Not.My Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      I’m doing exactly that!! Actually having fun looking for healthier substitutes.

  • November 19, 2013 Jeanne

    Why do second pregnancies do that to our bodies? I’ve never tried clean eating and hardly ever drink water (bad me). Congrats on making it through the 5 day plan and losing weight and inches!!
    Jeanne recently wrote…Digging Into My StashMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Jeanne!

  • November 20, 2013 KalleyC

    Okay, I’m sold. I need to try clean eating for a week. I need a spring in my step and a song to go with my day. The last time I tried to drink coffee though–someone’s suggestion–I was bouncing off the walls and my coworker (and boss) said, never drink coffee ever again.

    I digress though. Clean eating looks like a great way to get the mind and spirit cleansed from within. I think I really am going to try to it.
    KalleyC recently wrote…#mylifesphotos Challenge: SelfiesMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Do try it! Drink green tea, it’s awesome. And good luck!

  • November 20, 2013 Janice

    Thanks for sharing your experience. My husband always tells me to eat well, but I’ve always had excuses to myself. I won’t say them, you probably know them.
    But your post…well, maybe, just maybe, I’ll try. I just can’t stand hunger. My will gets so weak when I’m hungry…
    Janice recently wrote…A Daughter IsMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      The hunger is only in the first few days. After that, it’s all good!

  • November 20, 2013 Stacey

    The first few days really are the hardest. I had a hard time with drinking enough water too, in fact I still struggle with that one. But it is nice when I find myself craving a banana instead of a bag of chips. Ok, maybe not a whole bag. And sometimes I still have the junk. It’s all about moderation! Good luck going forward. Being healthy is well worth it!
    Stacey recently wrote…Leaving on a Jet PlaneMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Everything in moderation!

  • November 20, 2013 Maureen

    Oooh Alison I love this post! And well done on clean eating! Once you started and once you feel how different your body react to proper nourishment it just feels fantastic doesn’t? πŸ˜€ I’m getting back on track and I noticed immediately I’m less bloated when I eat clean. Awesome Alison, well done, my friend!
    Maureen recently wrote…Uncooking 101 – Raw Food Made EasyMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Maureen! I definitely feel less bloated – my pooch is visibly smaller! πŸ™‚

  • GO YOU!! πŸ™‚
    Tried and failed. Miserably. A hint : do not bake chocolate cake for somebody else’s birthday while try to eat detox.
    Since I was raised with one of those health-nuts as a mother, who even grew (and still grows) her own vegetables I’ve always eaten relatively clean, even cookies where home made with fresh butter and milk which we got straight from the farm.
    Tinne From Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…A nightmare come true: the 5 stages of forgetting your shoes at homeMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      I dream of fresh butter and milk and eggs and vegetables! Maybe some day. πŸ™‚

  • November 22, 2013 Poppy

    There are so many different versions of Clean Eating, I have no idea what the actual “rules” are. I try to eat unprocessed food as much as possible. But I ALWAYS skimp on water, too. I hope it doesn’t mean I’ll be a camel in my next life.

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      There are. I think essentially, it’s just cutting out all the processed foods, and for me, cutting out the excessive amounts of sugar I was consuming. Plus, drinking enough water is key for me. I say, do whatever works for you!

  • November 22, 2013 Jin Ai

    You lost 5 pounds 3 inches? Way to go!
    Getting used to drinking lots of water is hard. Even though I know it’s good for me I always have to force myself.
    Jin Ai recently wrote…Looking back, laughingMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      I did!
      It was hard for me too, in the beginning, but it’s easy now that I’m used to it.

  • November 22, 2013 Elaine A.

    It really is amazing how much better we feel when we give our bodies REAL food. Good for you, Alison!!

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Elaine!

  • November 22, 2013 Barbara

    I have started eating clean or I guess I should say cleaner. It does require more prep but I am trying to be better organized. I have dropped 9 lbs but I’m stuck right now. I’ll admit to cheating a bit more than I should.

    Barbara @ http://www.allmylivesnow.com
    Barbara recently wrote…Old School Blogging NovemberMy Profile

    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      9 pounds is great progress, Barbara!
      I think the way to avoid cheating? Is to give yourself permission to have a treat occasionally. The plan I’m on, encourages us to eat one pice of dark chocolate a day. It makes it all good πŸ™‚

  • November 22, 2013 Stevie

    Way to go Alison, on making a healthy change to take care of you. I find it really tough to always eat healthy, especially when life gets busy. It’s a total weakness of mine. When I was in Spain I was noticing how I felt better because I was walking more and eating little to no processed foods. Since I’ve been back I have been working on cutting back on the processed foods and increasing the fruits and veggies and water. Baby steps right?
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    • November 22, 2013 Alison

      Those are VERY good steps, Stevie!

  • November 23, 2013 Nina

    I went on a detox eating plan (which was basically a vegan diet) a few months before I got married and lost a lot of excess weight. I was able to keep it off even though I went off the plan, which was reassuring since I didn’t want to deprive myself of food. But after my two pregnancies, I have yet to lose that extra 15 pounds. I keep shooing away the voice that’s telling me to just go back and eat healthier again. And honestly I already eat healthy, but I’m just not losing the weight. Sigh…
    Nina recently wrote…Are today’s parents raising a generation of narcissists?My Profile

    • November 25, 2013 Alison

      Have you tried combining healthy eating with exercise? That could be the missing link. πŸ™‚ Way to go on the good diet!

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