You may have heard me make the analogy that food is to your body as gasoline is to your car. If you put orange juice in your car's gas tank not only with your car not run, it will probably break. The same is true of food fuel.Your body is equipped to process naturally occurring nourishment. So when you put poor quality food energy into your tank, you'll perform poorly and may even start to break down.
Hopefully by now, you've found your groove with the organization and routine of the new school year and are making time to take care of your health and well-being. And since we're into the Nutrition part of our Balance Bootcamp, I'd like to introduce you to my 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge. Invite your partner, your kids, your coworkers, your dad, your bestie, whoever. Someone who can keep you motivated! You can start Monday or whenever you like, though I say there's no better time than right now.
With this challenge, there's no counting calories or macros or points, no weighing just putting one foot in front of the other and making meaningful steps towards choosing the optimal fuel. If you can do this for 30 days, just one short month, I know you can make it a lifestyle!
Here are the rules:
1. Clean your fridge, spice cabinet and pantry. Get rid of all processed foods. Anything that doesn't have an expiration date, probably isn't real food. I mean, if it can sit on a shelf for two years and not spoil, it probably contains chemicals that are not meant to be inside your body.
2. Create your menu for the week. Breakfast and lunch can be slight variations of the same type of food. For example, easy smoothies with different ingredients for breakfast; salads or soups for lunch. You can big batch these. Dinners should be your time to mix things up and get really creative.
3. Make a list based on your menu and stick to it. Or better yet, order your groceries online. That will prevent impulse buying and falling victim to the sales at the ends of the aisles. Only buying what you need for your week's menu will save you money by reducing waste. And shop on a full stomach so you're less inclined to buy foods you'll want to eat on the car ride home.
4. Only shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Don't even go down the aisles. Avoid anything in a box, jar or can. Do not buy anything with more than five ingredients, words you can't pronounce, artificial colors or preservatives. Avoid fried foods, cold cuts and starchy carbs like rice, pasta, bread.
5. Pick a day to prep your snacks and meals. Heck, make it a family food prep party! You will need various size containers. I prefer glass, but you can get reasonably priced bulk reusable plastic containers on Amazon (please don't put plastic in the microwave or dishwasher). Chop up your veggies and then divide into snack size portions. Hard boil a bunch of eggs to have on hand in a pinch. Combine all the ingredients for each meal and throw them in a ziplock bag so you can pop it in the oven, slow-cooker, or InstantPot. Freeze the meals for later in the week. You can do this for soups, stews, casseroles, stir-fries and chilis.
6. Limit yourself to one tablespoon of added sugar per day.
7. Don't be afraid of healthy fats like avocado, oils, eggs, nuts, nut butters and even butter. Yes, I said it, butter! Use these fats sparingly for flavor or texture. They will help with energy, focus and appetite control.
8. Season with spices instead of salt. You can make incredibly delicious meals by learning to combine the various spices of ethnic foods. Think of all the possibilities for Italian (basil, oregano, parsley, garlic, balsamic, lemon), Mexican (pepper, paprika, tomato), Indian (cumin, cardamom, turmeric, mint), Chinese (ginger, peanut, sesame, orange) food that you can make right at home.
9. No eating out. Slice up fruits and greens to throw in a blender with some almond milk in the morning. Or grab one of those hard boiled eggs. While cleaning up after dinner, pack away leftovers for the next day's lunch. Snack on protein to avoid going into the junk before dinner time. And make sure you're getting enough sleep so you have the energy to whip up all this goodness.
10. Drink half your body weight, in ounces, of water. Add lemon, cucumber, mint, fruit or bubbles to make it fancy. Have your coffee and tea as well, but make sure you have two cups of water for every cup of coffee or tea (they act as diuretics and can dehydrate you).
And most importantly....
11. ENLIST HELP. Tell your friends, family and coworkers, or whoever will listen, that you're doing this so they can help you stay on track. You'll need the support and hey, maybe they'll even try it with you. We always do better when we do things together!
Those are the basics grasshopper.... I'll be giving you daily tips and tricks as well as inspiration to make positive changes. And we'll be doing some recipe threads to create a group cookbook of sorts!
Don't get discouraged if you fall off. We'll help you get back on.
Now tell me, are you ready to take the challenge?? Make sure you visit me on Facebook @doctorlexrx and give me some ideas for your favorite clean snacks. Let's git it!