The clean eating and wellness phenomenon came, saw, conquered and doesn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon. Kale, acai and cacao no longer sound like bizarre celebrity baby names and instead have cemented themselves as menu regulars at most trendy cafes around town. These 'superfoods' gained popularity with the arrival of the clean eating craze and the wellness movement that dominated 2017 and suckered in so many of us. If you've been living under a rock or you're just blissfully unaware, at its simplest, clean eating refers to eating whole foods; those that are minimally processed and handled or aren't interfered with at all. In essence, to eat 'clean' means to eat foods as close to their natural form as possible. I am a big fan of wholefoods and definitely think foods are best in their natural state but I have never believed in cutting out food groups or labelling foods as 'clean' or 'unclean'. The most important thing is that you have a healthy relationship with food and it never leaves you feeling anxious or feels like a chore.
I never tell my clients to label foods as good or bad, I don't put foods into an 'allowed' or 'not allowed' basket and the only time I call a food clean is when I've washed the veggies I just bought from Coles. There is, however, some method to the madness of those who love to eat clean but here are my tips to eating clean-ish to keep you healthy, and sane.
- Don't demonise food groups.
Gluten-free, vegan, raw, raw 'til 4, sugar-free, carb-free . . . there are so many fads floating around I get tired just thinking about them. Unless you have a proven intolerance, don't rule out any of the major food groups. Everything in moderation!
- Remember, balance!
Eating a doughnut over the weekend won't make your body shut down and a snickers (no, not the raw kind) does not mean you need to go on a juice cleanse to 'clean your insides'. Eat a diet full of wholefoods most of the time and enjoy your treats when you do indulge.
- Don't go all or nothing.
Eating clean-ish doesn't mean eating well Monday to Friday and then inhaling everything in sight over the weekend. A few treats here and there throughout your week are better than consuming the entire contents of the chocolate aisle on a Sunday afternoon. An all or nothing mentality often leads to restricting and overeating tendencies. You're better off having that row of chocolate on a Thursday night than the whole black on a Saturday.
- Plan your treats.
Sometimes it helps to plan your treats in advance. For example, if I know I'm going to have a pot and parma with my mates on the weekend, I'm less likely to overindulge during the week because I Know I have a delicious meal to look forward to. It also keeps me motivated to stick to my routine so that come Saturday I know I can enjoy my parma with no regrets.
- Have a treat meal, not a treat day (or week or month).
Countless times I have had clients say to me "I was only going to have one biscuit/pizza/ice cream and then I realised I'd already ruined my healthy eating so I just kept going". I always respond in the same way "If you dropped your phone on the floor and the screen cracked, would you pick your phone up and throw it against the ground again?" the answer is always no. You should apply the same logic to your eating. One biscuit won't ruin your progress but the packet might.
Life is too short to not treat yourself. Just make sure you enjoy it, don't overdo it and if you can- get in a good workout beforehand and earn that burn!