This past month, in an effort to eat clean and more healthy foods, I made nearly all of my meals. The only time I broke that deal was on Saturday when I went thrifting with my bestie. And at my sister’s house for a family birthday party where we had Chinese food. Those were my main two cheat meals. The rest of the month, I ate all homemade food and I’ve noticed some changes already.
I thought I would share what I’ve been eating for those of you who are like me and struggling to eat healthy for weight loss. I think like anything else, once you get into a routine – things get easier. For the first time in a long time, I’m actually running out of food before my designated shopping date because I’ve been cooking so much.
Weight Loss Progress
While the scale has not budged, in fact my weight is climbing, I’ve noticed that my favorite pair of PJ pants are much looser on me this week. Some of my tops that were too tight a few months ago, are now hanging off of me. One t-shirt that I use for sleep, reaches down to my knees now. I think that might be partially due to it being old and stretched thin.
But some of my old jackets are now fitting in the arms and my pants are all fitting a little better. So, even though the scale hasn’t budged – I know that something is working.
It’s important to remember that muscle is denser than fat. It takes up more space than fat does in your body. If you notice that your clothes are fitting better but your weight is increasing – that’s actually a good thing early on. It means that you are shedding fat and building muscle. Muscle is something we all need to keep our bodies healthy and strong.
So, small steps for me. I had a really bad day yesterday, but I pushed myself at night time to cycle and felt great after. I’m feeling less stiff today and have a little more energy.
What eating clean really means
I decided to re-follow all my favorite cooking channels on YouTube again. I rediscovered a channel called Downshiftology with Lisa Bryan. Lisa struggles with chronic illness and an auto-immune disorder that makes her intolerant to gluten products. Her videos explain things so well and she has hundreds of healthy recipes to choose from. I’ve learned so much from her channel about clean eating.
For me, clean eating means cooking most of my meal and eating more natural products like fruits and vegetables. It means getting the right blend of protein, carbs, and fats. It means that I can still snack and munch on foods that I love but all in moderation. Instead of ordering in a few times a month from restaurants, I’ve cut back to once or twice.
Some people go all out and use only organic produce. But where I live, food is really expensive right now and organic produce costs too much money. Sometimes in winter months, I find things like fruit and peas or corn are cheaper to buy frozen than fresh. There’s nothing wrong with using frozen vegetables in my eyes.
One thing I have started doing differently in the last month is adding oatmeal to my daily diet. This usually happens in the morning. I baked a delicious pumpkin oatmeal loaf last night that used two cups of oats and only one cup of flour. I tried to bake an apple cinnamon loaf but it didn’t turn out as well!
I love using in season vegetables with my meals and so this next month will be all about pumpkin spices, zucchinis, tomatoes and other wonderful garden goodies. I’ve also started adding things like crushed walnuts and almonds to my baking. This helps ensures that I get a little more protein and healthy fats into my diet.
Healthy meal ideas
I often get stuck in food ruts and find that I run out of ideas for healthy eating. I get bored easily and like to change things up often. I find what really helps is to plan meals ahead of time and taking inventory of my pantry before placing my bi-monthly grocery order. This helps to save a bit of money so you don’t over buy things.
For breakfast, I tend to keep things simple. I have my morning coffee, a glass of water and a cup of almond milk. I drink this with my morning medications and vitamins. That includes vitamin D3, and fish oil. I’m thinking of adding collagen to my routine as well.
I’ll usually snack on whatever loaf or muffins I have baked the night before. Like today, I’m eating a piece of the pumpkin loaf. It’s delicious but turned out a little dry and is not satisfying. Other days I’ll eat eggs, or Special K cereal with some fruit. I tend to not eat a lot in my first meal of the day.
If I wake up later, then I’ll just have a good sized lunch and aim for about 600 calories.
I’m also trying to cut back on the amount of bread I eat and switched to tortilla wraps recently. Wow are these ever tasty. Wraps are so versatile and you can fill them with just about anything. I typically stick to a serving of protein (deli meat, tuna or eggs), a cup of cucumber slices or shredded carrots, 2 cups of fresh spinach and some goat cheese.
These are simply delicious. They’ve become my new favorite meal and I love trying new flavours of wraps. I used the spinach wraps last week but think I’m going to try the tomato wraps this week. I’ve started pairing the wraps up with a piece of fruit and raw vegetables. This makes for a great balanced and filling meal. It ties me over until dinner.
I’m also trying to reduce the amount of dairy I eat and have been using things like goat cheese and almond milk. I’m noticing a huge difference in my skin with this change.
Other lunch ideas include a salad, raw vegetables, leftovers from the night before. You get the idea.
Dinner is a little harder on days where I don’t feel up to cooking. I’ve often reached for cans of soup which are terrible for you in terms of sodium. But soup is a great way to fill up on colder days. A Campbell’s can of soup for instance, like tomato, is only about 70 calories for the whole can. Soup alone doesn’t totally satisfy me, so I’ll pair it with a goat or grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread, crackers or a side of raw vegetables and hummus. Hummus is another great snack idea that can provide you with those healthy fats.
Other meal ideas include a healthy serving of protein – this usually includes ham, chicken or fish. A side of vegetables – carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, or steamed broccoli for me. And on occasion, a serving of rice or pasta noodles. It really just depends on how I feel that day.
There really is nothing better than roasted chicken or beef served with a side of grilled or roasted vegetables this time of year. Roasted vegetables are so easy to prepare. Just wash all the vegetables, cut them into good sized pieces. Drizzle a little olive oil over them. Add some seasoning. Bake at 400F for about 20-30 minutes. Delicious.
PRO TIP: I buy baby carrots. They are already peeled. All you have to do is wash them and store them in a container until you’re ready to use them. I go through about a small bag each week.
Snacking while trying to be healthy can be a bit trickier. I’ve started getting better at eating more fruit during my day which helps satisfy the sugar cravings. It also leaves me feeling fuller. Here are some snacks that I’ve eaten this month.
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- Low fat cheese and crackers
- Raw carrots or celery with hummus
- Home made party mix (cereal, nuts, pretzels)
- Oven popped popcorn
- A piece of fruit (orange, nectarine, a handful of cherries or berries)
I find that if I eat breakfast when I first get up in the morning, then I am more full throughout the day. I’m still trying to eat within an 8 to 10 hour window but some days are more challenging for that. If I load up with protein in the morning like with an egg, then it leaves me feeling fuller for longer.
And so, these are just a few suggestions to help you on your clean eating journey. I’m not fully 100% “clean” – but I’m incorporating healthier choices into my daily routine. I can’t say my stomach is better for it, as the hypermobility causes a lot of stomach issues. But I can say that my system is a little more, regular, and that helps for having a healthy and clean colon.
My next shopping day is on Wednesday and I’m looking for new recipes to try already. I start my orders a few days in advance or as I notice that I run out of items. I’ve already used up half my oats and flour this month – so I’ll need to stock up again. Luckily, oats are fairly cheap.
I have lots of soups and beans in my pantry – so perhaps I will make a chili in the next couple of days. I’ve got my eye on a teal crockpot from Amazon that I hope to order next paycheck. I’ve already broken my spending budget this month.
I’m also waiting for the weather to get a little cooler. Fall is the perfect time for soups and stews. And if you want to check out some of my recipes, just head over to my food page.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what your definition of clean eating is in the comments.