• Week 4 Challenge: Eat Clean

    January 17, 2014

    Good morning!

    Are you ready for this week’s challenge? Here it is!

    week_4_challenge_

    Eat clean. It sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s probably one of the toughest challenges for me—and maybe you too!

    As you know, I love dessert and eat it everyday. Of course, this is totally fine if you do it in moderation, but I’ve recently found myself overdoing it a little too often. Gluten-Free Almond Brownies, Flourless Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies, Creamy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Balls, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels… you know what I’m talking about, right?

    And when I frequently indulge in these kind of treats, I don’t typically consume a lot of nutritious foods, so when it comes to Baby Haupert, I’m not doing the greatest job with my diet. It’s not like I’m going crazy with the junk, but I feel like I am getting a little lazy with my food choices—grabbing a handful of pita chips instead of making some guacamole and eating it with baby carrots—and, basically, not making the best decisions that I can. That said, this week is all about cleaning up our diets!

    I’d go 100% clean with my eats this week, but I know it’s not realistic for me. I’m pregnant with crazy hormones and, honestly, I just love dessert so much not having it in my diet just kind of blows! Ha! But, seriously, I’m aiming for 90% clean eating this week. Feel free to set an individual number for yourself this week too. If you can go 100% clean, do it! If you really love desserts/salty snacks and know you’ll be miserable all week not having them, go with 90% or even 80%. Make your goal a challenge so you clean up your diet, but make it realistic too!

    So, what is “clean” eating? I think the definition and practice really depends on the individual, but, for me, it involves these principles below:

    • Choosing whole, natural, real foods and eliminating processed and refined foods from my diet.
    • Making fresh, colorful produce the center of my meals and snacks.
    • Including some protein, carbs, and fat with every meal and snack that I eat.
    • Limiting excess sugar, (bad) fat, salt, alcohol, and other not-so-healthy foods from my diet.
    • Planning well-rounded meals and making conscious choices about what I put into my body.
    • Drinking lots of water.

    eat-real-food
    [source]

    As I mentioned above, I’m leaving a little wiggle room for fun foods this week, so I’ll likely allow myself one treat per day, but not go overboard with it. Maybe something in 100-200 calorie range? I think that’s do-able, and it will allow me to fill up my diet with other nutritious foods while not making me crazy either.

    Here are some posts that you might find helpful this week:

    And a few products that might be useful:

    Questions of the Day

    What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to clean eating?

    What’s clean eating mean to you? 

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    { 51 comments… read them below or add one }

    Hayley @healthyregards January 17, 2014 at 8:41 am

    my biggest challenge is fake sweeteners! It is my nutritional down fall and I know it but I can’t seem to kick it.

    Reply

    Kim@hungryhealthygirl January 17, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I love this challenge! 90% clean eating is very practical. I feel like I eat clean about 80% and am more than willing to take on the challenge of increasing that to 90%. ;-)

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    Jackie January 17, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Love the tips! I really want to clean up my diet!

    Reply

    Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life January 17, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I try to eat clean 90% of the time, mostly because my body and mind just feels so much better when I lay off the sugar and heavy carbs. I indulge in a dessert as well pretty much everyday but I try and stick to healthier options through the week and leave the ice cream for the weekend! ;)

    Reply

    Nikki January 17, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I am pregnant too and my biggest temptation is ice cream. I buy low fat varieties. Nuts are great for keeping me on the right track. I just don’t buy tempting chips because if it’s not in our house, I will reach for another option.

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    Sanaz @Run for Cake January 17, 2014 at 9:05 am

    My biggest challenge is eating out. I find that it is so much harder to eat as clean as I would like when I dine out.
    To me, clean eating is about eating less processed foods that are made with wholesome (preferably organic) ingredients that you can actually pronounce. Clean eating is free of artificial yuckiness and just good for your body. I am going to step it up this week and try to limit my dinning rendezvous. :)

    Reply

    sally @ sweat out the small stuff January 17, 2014 at 9:12 am

    It’s called breakfast! I am a sucker for a frozen waffle or soft pretzel. I need to fall in love with oatmeal again. I lost the love a while ago….

    Reply

    Danica @ It's Progression January 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Dessert food is always my struggle with clean eating as well. And every since the holidays I’ve been pretty lazy about keeping that in tact. I think this week’s challenge is great!

    Reply

    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 17, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I find that when I start eating more and more processed food it kind of becomes a snowball effect – this is a great way to do a reset! And hey, you can do anything for a few days!

    Reply

    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries January 17, 2014 at 9:39 am

    SUGAR!! It’s my biggest weakness by far. I have the largest sweet tooth!

    Reply

    mary @ minutes per mile January 17, 2014 at 9:40 am

    i think that navigating through the slew of packaged foods that claim to be “clean” can be really confusing and misleading at times. there are so many “healthy” things out there that actually aren’t healthy at all!

    Reply

    Annie Atherton January 17, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Eating clean to me is eating whole REAL foods!

    When I did the Lurong Challenge, I found condiments were my hardest thing to give up, or create similiar ones with whole foods. As soon as I saw that this weeks challenge is clean eating, I began to wonder about what you are going to do with your ketchup addiction? There are some pretty clean ketchups out there though. During the 8 week challenge, I could not find a recipe to satisfy my ketchup need though, that is one that is hard to create!

    Reply

    Amy @ The Little Honey Bee January 17, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I love your definition of clean eating. I consider myself a “clean eater”… although I hate that term. I don’t advertise it but of course my friends and family know how I eat and the biggest challenge is the judgement other people place and think that I won’t eat something because it isn’t “real”… not true!

    Reply

    Jennifer January 17, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I love your description of clean eating. So much more down to earth and realistic than others. But, speaking of the treats, do you have a recipe for those creamy chocolate chip oatmeal balls?

    Reply

    Tina January 17, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Yep, I’m posting it soon! :)

    Reply

    Sim @ The Micro Harvest January 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Fun challenge!! Clean eating (to me) means eating mostly meals created with 1-ingredient foods super close to their natural forms.

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    Elizabeth @ Positive Change January 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Great challenge this week! I eat clean because I feel better about myself, not because I want this title.
    Eating clean to me is having a balance of fruits, veggies, grains and protein, which are wholesome and are made to help the body grow.
    I have used your beating your sugar addiction tips and those really helped me eliminate the sugar in my diet. I find that I don’t need sugar at night and I can satisfy my hunger with a healthy option like, apple/banana & PB. I no longer have a sugar weakness and I truly credit your post about beating sugar for this reason! So thank you!!

    Reply

    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties January 17, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I think eating clean is much easier when I have a well stocked kitchen- if I actually plan ahead and get enough fruits/veggies/etc for the week, then there’s no excuse to not cook an awesome and healthy meal!

    Reply

    Annette@FitnessPerks January 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Awesome tips! I eat pretty clean, as I choose whole foods/veggies/fruits/nuts over processed stuff MOST of the time, but I so love some of things like chips & chocolate so I eat those in small portions regularly :) I feel pretty darn balanced!

    Reply

    Alex @ Kenzie Life January 17, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I consider myself to be a pretty clean eater but my biggest challenge when it comes to clean eating is not packing some sort of snack and then getting home after a long day and workout and just wanting whatever looks good. I’m getting better about meal planning though and that’s helping.

    Reply

    Cori @ She's Going the Distance January 17, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Love the challenge! I’m in, i’ll go 90/10 clean eating for 7 days and see how i feel. I think i’d be setting myself up for failure if i couldn’t have a piece of dark chocolate or a little sugar in my coffee!

    Reply

    Sarah @ Sweet Miles January 17, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Eating clean is definitely tough. Sometimes I’ll think that I’m eating “clean” only to remember that there’s actually aspartame or artificial sweetener hidden, or that it’s not organic and there’s a hidden chemical. Being educated on what’s “clean” and the truth in the food industry can be challenging!

    Reply

    Abi@AbsofSteel January 17, 2014 at 10:50 am

    oof, my biggest struggle right here. but I’m definitely down for the challenge! My clean eating is probably going to be pretty similar to your 90% ratio, with 1 small treat a day.

    Reply

    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 17, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Sweets are my biggest challenge as well! My husband is known as the “candy man” and has candy almost every night. I always allow myself one treat at night too but it makes it really hard to stay away from it when it is always around you! I am learning little tricks here and there that seem to be helping, but it is still a struggle sometimes!

    Reply

    Pamela January 17, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Ive actually been trying to do this all week! My biggest challenge is going out to eat. Especially with my girlfriends. No one likes to hear that you’re watching what you eat!

    Reply

    meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles January 17, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Clean eating to me is eating whole, nutrient dense foods which for me consists of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables as the bulk of my diet while including whole grains, beans, lots of avocado for fat, organic dairy and peanut butter. I will never give up my favorite desserts but packaged snacks and foods on a daily, regular basis? Minimal to the point where I can say they don’t happen for me all that often. I would rather eat an apple with peanut butter than a 100 calorie pack of cookies any day. I think that as people work on incorporating whole foods into their diet on a consistent basis, they can also realize how much better they feel as a result, making it easy to stick to and easier to skip the processed stuff.

    Reply

    Mia January 17, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Great post, Tina! It is true that we all have our definition of clean eating since everyone is at a different stage on their journey to health. My biggest challenges are if we plan to eat out on the weekend, but if that’s the case I will usually save my “10%” wiggle room for the weekend.
    Otherwise, I like to eat clean 90% of the time, always leaving that little wiggle room for something sweet. Lately I find that either a cup of cocoa made with unsweetened almond milk, cocoa powder, and a date (all blended before heating), satisfies my sweet tooth (~60calories). If I feel like something extra special, I will do 85% dark chocolate covered frozen banana/raspberr/strawberry bites (~100-150 calories) or a medjool date, stuffed with a little almond butter, then drizzled with coconut butter and frozen for 15 minutes (~100 calories each). Perfect amount of sweetness! :)

    Reply

    Ashley January 17, 2014 at 11:39 am

    The hardest part of clean eating for me is also dessert. I LOVE sweets and chocolate, and will eat well ALL day but NEED my treat to round out the day. I don’t know how I’d do for an extended period of time with out it!

    Reply

    Rachel January 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I work in food marketing, so it’s challenging to not want to always eat everything in front of me! Also, living in NYC there is food temptation everywhere! As long as I prep my meals in advance, it’s a lot easier for me to maintain a clean diet.

    Reply

    Lindsay January 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

    SUGAR is my downfall. And I shouldn’t say DOWNFALL because, well…I enjoy it and I think moderation is key. However this came at the perfect time because now that I am back to work, it is so hard to grab nutritious when I want to just eat everything in sight due to being more busy, tired, stressed. Clean eating to me means seeking nutrient dense foods that fuel my body, not choosing anything that would not serve me.

    Reply

    Kylie January 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Clean eating to me is trying to eat real, whole foods MOST of the time (I aim for about 70-80%). Dessert, wine, and beer are my downfalls…If I hated those things, I think I would be eating clean 100% of the time ;)

    Reply

    Hannah January 17, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Tina, this post was especially motivational. I often try and eat clean and then get discouraged when I make a tiny “mistake” and then throw the whole thing out the window. Making a realistic goal of 90% or even 80% clean sounds so much more doable and will still make day to day eating healthier! Thank you!

    Reply

    Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit January 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    This is one area that I really need to learn to balance. I will do awesome one day and then go back to eating a little too much sugar/carbs/alcohol the next. I really need to get used to the 90-10 EVERYDAY!

    Reply

    Anna January 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I’m liking these challenges! I want to keep some of them up for the rest of the year. Your outlook on healthy eating is so refreshing – life’s too short not to treat your body well AND enjoy yourself :)

    Reply

    Sara @ Zero to Sixty January 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Hmm… I try to eat clean as possible. I guess eating clean to me is trying to buy organic and GMO free as much as possible! Have you ever heard of Fooducate? Its a really good tool if you are in the grocery store and not sure if some products are “clean” or not.

    With that being said I agree with you that treats are good for the soul and to me it doesn’t matter they are “clean” or not 100% of the time… got to let loose once and awhile right? :)

    Reply

    Sara @ Zero to Sixty January 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    **as much

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    Elisabeth January 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I usually do very well with eating clean – I’d say normally I eat about 90-95% clean. However, since the holidays I’ve been pushing the sugar a little too much – eating too many ‘tastes’ of whatever’s around (probably more in the 75% clean area). My goal this week is to knock those grams of sugar back & get back to eating 95%/5%.

    Reply

    Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork January 17, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of clean eating. Whole foods, minimally processed, without a lot of junk (such as sugar, salt, bad fat) in them.

    To me, clean eating always allows some room for a treat. I like to indulge in a piece or two of dark chocolate. It fulfills my craving for something sweet and by allowing myself to have a little treat, I feel I’m always in better control (as opposed to always denying myself, and then ending up binging on something).

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    amrapCindy January 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Great challenge! I think for me, clean eating means eating foods without an ingredients list. The cleaner I eat, the better I feel!

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    Gracie January 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Awesome! I’ve really been focusing more on (what I guess you could call) “clean eating” this month. For me, it’s all about ADDING healthier choices in – more veggies, etc. – as opposed to cutting things out.

    Reply

    Lily January 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Great challenge! I have done this for myself for the last month or more of my pregnancy- much “cleaner” in the last two weeks. For me this means cooking all meals but one a week. I too love dessert and have sorbet nightly.

    Reply

    Bethany January 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    This is a tough one. I think I eat clean, until I really think about it. I use many Trader Joe’s product for fast meals and they are not clean. I will try to use less processed food this week.

    Reply

    Beth January 17, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I am just about to finish week 2 of my Whole 30 challenge – which is very strict paleo. That’s eating clean!!! I have learned a lot about my relationship with food. Most especially how little veggies I really was eating. And how you don’t need grains to survive. It’s hard but not bad (unless you mI have to stop at shaws she will be home at 6:20ish ok!?iss a meal).

    Reply

    Zahra@MusicandMarathons January 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly. I love all the recipes for sweets I see here and on other blogs and it is so easy to grab something to snack on than to make food and sit down. Focusing on whole foods is a really good goal.

    Reply

    Jenn@ Mark My Mile! January 17, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    This is a great goal as I can tell I feel better when I am eating more nutritious foods. But I must say, a daily dessert is a must for me. I feel best when I don’t deprive myself or put food restrictions and rules on myself.

    Reply

    Brooke@SweetnSweaty January 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I am pretty strict about eating clean, but my biggest problem is WINE! I do good during the week but even after a few glasses on a Saturday it dehydrates me.

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    Shel@PeachyPalate January 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Clean means whole for me so if it’s got beneficial nutrients and nothing artificial then it’s clean!

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    Katie January 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Artificial sweeteners is something I struggle with but I’ve cut back big time lately and feel much better….I want to cut them out completely!

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    Toni January 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Wow – I just read your “Ways to Keep Your Marriage from Making you Fat” post and the tip about not having the same serving sizes as your husband is a revelation! My husband is 6’4″ and I’m 5’4″ – no wonder I’ve put on a few pounds since my marriage given that we always have identical sized servings. That stops right now!

    Reply

    Epiphamee January 19, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I’m not perfect, but I try hard to eat healthfully. The biggest motivator? The awful feeling I get when I’ve been eating great, then fall off the wagon. Nuts and sweeteners are definitely the tastiest, the hardest to avoid…and the ones that leave the greatest ick feeling after!

    Reply

    Kelli @ healthierbytheweek January 21, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    As a physician I think that the downfall of eating clean for a lot of people is the cost to eat clean and fresh. A lot of my patients will tell me they can only afford a small amount of fresh fruits, vegetables, etc. They also tell me it’s much easier and sometimes affordable for them to go through the drive-thu and order off a dollar menu for dinner rather than preparing anything that is not processed.

    Reply

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