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Eating Clean: What I eat

Posted May 02 2012 12:00am
With the warmer weather upon us, we all start to think about the upcoming summer months.  We look forward to the sun, the vacations, the picnics and the pool, but for some, that only leads to anxieties about the tank tops, the shorts and the bikinis!  OH NO!  Before you know it, everyone is in a  rush to get in shape for summer.  This has led to a lot of people asking me lately about my diet.  When people notice that you have lost some weight, they always ask, How did you do it?  You can see the hope in their eyes that you are going to reveal some magic formula or new weight loss secret.  There is a magic formula, but it is no secret.  I work out six days a week and eat clean 85%-90% of the week.   I mix high intensity interval training cardio with a couple of long steady runs, and weight training.  That’s the formula that works every time.  Eat Clean?  What exactly does that mean? 

I'm certainly not a nutritional expert, nor am I giving advice about what YOU should eat, since everyone is different.  I am simply sharing what works best for me.  I do believe everyone can benefit from limiting refined sugar and processed foods from their diet.  I basically follow a clean-eating diet lifestyle, which means eating mostly unprocessed foods.  Clean eating means different things to different people. This is my version.  There are certainly people out there who eat cleaner than I do, or define clean in another way. Generally speaking,  if you can’t grow it, pick it, kill it (sorry vegetarians), if it doesn’t come from nature, I don’t eat it.   I try to avoid foods that come in packages with more than 3 ingredients and avoid ingredients that I cannot pronounce (and stay clear of things like high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar).  It may sound limiting, but what you end up with is fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, meat, fish and nuts.  I think the foods I eat are delicious and filling!  I do have one or two indulgence meals a week when I eat whatever I want.  I don’t call it a “cheat” meal because that implies that it not part of the plan.  My indulgence meals are planned and allowed.  No guilt!

This is what I eat, you should consult your doctor and modify to whatever version of "clean" works best for you and your lifestyle. 

The Good List:
Any and all Fruit  
Any and all Veggies
Lean meats like chicken breast (skinless) and turkey
Any Fish
All Nuts
Oatmeal (old fashion rolled oats in the canister, the packet oatmeal has either too much sugar or artificial sweeteners)
Greek Yogurt (regular yogurt has too much sugar).  Buy plain and add fruit to sweeten it.
Eggs or egg whites
Unsweetened almond Milk
Black beans
Protein powder

Allowed, but in moderation:  
100% whole wheat bread and whole wheat wraps
Sweet potatoes
Whole wheat pasta
Brown rice
Real cheese
Trail mix, but watch the sugar content and serving size.
2% Milk
Red meat 
White potatoes, I personally don't eat white potatoes, but they ARE a whole natural food, so I do think they qualify as a clean food.
Stay Away From:
Sugar, as a rule of thumb if it has more than 5 grams of sugar per serving, be cautioned. 
White bread and fake brown colored white bread. It HAS to say 100% whole wheat in the ingredient list or it is not really wheat bread.
White pasta
Anything made with white flour
Anything with artificial sweeteners
White rice, sushi happens to be my favorite food, so I save this one for an occasional indulgence meal.
Anything with high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list.  
All deli meat including chicken and turkey.  These are processed meats, not good for you.
Soda, regular or diet
Fried foods
Chips/crackers/pretzels, etc.
Salad dressing & condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup & sour cream.  Mustard is OK, always check the ingredients for high fructose corn syrup, sugars and artificial sweeteners.
All Fast food.  If you must have a hamburger, you can make a hamburger at home on a wheat bun that would be 1000 times better for you than one you pick up at a drive thru. 
Cereal, most cereals are sugary garbage, even the ones that they label as healthy.
Here is an example of my average food day:

5am before the gym – small banana 7am after gym – protein shake with 1c of almond milk, 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, 2 tbsp. of PB2 (you gotta check this stuff out ), 1/4c of blueberries.  YUM-O
(on non-gym mornings I have a protein shake and the banana all at once at about 7:30am I pack my lunch & snacks for work the night before and here is generally what it looks like:

Mid-morning snack – 9:30am (1)  2 whole eggs with green peppers/red peppers/onions/cooked spinach.  I crack the eggs in the container and add the toppings the night before.  When I am ready for my snack, I pop it in the microwave at work for a minute or so (maybe stir it up after a minute and put it back in for 20-30 sec) and I have a delicious egg omelet.  I do not cut calories because I am at my goal weight, but if you wanted to cut some calories you could use egg whites only. (1A) Plain Greek yogurt and fruit.  1/4c of non-fat Greek yogurt with 3 or 4 strawberries, 4 pineapples (in pineapple juice- NOT syrup), and ¼ cup of blueberries.  YUM!  This tastes like a dessert to me.   Greek yogurt is better for you than regular yogurt because it is made from all natural ingredients, has a lot less sugar and a lot more protein. 
Lunch – 12pm (2)  Chicken with low sugar pasta sauce, green peppers, red peppers and onions.  I generally buy 3-5 lbs of chicken and bake it all up at once.  I separate enough for a week into sandwich baggies and freeze what I won’t use this week.  It generally lasts me 4 weeks.    When I pack my lunch at night, I just pop a piece of already cooked chicken from the fridge, add a spoon full of sauce and top with the peppers.  The peppers and onion mixture is readily available for lunches because on Sundays I cut up one green pepper, one red pepper and a half of onion (sometimes I add mushrooms and jalapenos) and store it in Tupperware in the fridge.  When I need it during the week for my chicken and eggs topping, I just scoop out of stored container.  Easy and delicious. (2A) Cutie.  I love these things.  They are so….cute. (2B) Edamame (soy beans) for a side, just like at your favorite Chinese restaurant. (2C) La Croix .  The perfect refreshing carbonated beverage since I gave up my long running Diet Coke addiction four months ago.  All natural.  No calories. No artificial flavors. No sweeteners & No sodium.
Mid Afternoon Snack – 3PM (3) 3 stalks of celery and about 10-15 sugar snap peas (3A) 2 tbsp. of all natural peanut butter to dip and sometimes also a tbsp. of hummus.
Snack Extras Extra snacks just in case I get hungry, and let me tell you, there is rarely a day I don’t eat every last crumble that I packed in my bag. Sometimes I eat them earlier in the day, sometimes at the very end, but they almost always get eaten before I leave work for the day. (4) 20-30 pistachios.  I like them in the shell because it takes a little longer to eat them. (4A) another cutie
Dinner – 6:30-7PM Here are some typical dinners for us: Salmon and roasted asparagus in olive oil White fish and roasted cauliflower in olive oil All natural turkey burgers (sans bun) with avocado, lettuce & tomato
All natural chicken dogs (sometimes on a 100% whole wheat bun, but mostly just the dogs) Chicken stir fry Stuffed ground turkey & spinach mushroom caps (pictured below).  Click here for the recipe .  It is so delicious and healthy!
I have found that once in the routine of eating healthy, I really only want to eat clean.  When you cut out sugar and all the bad-stuff, the cravings for it eventually go away almost completely.   Soon I was passing up birthday cake or donuts at the office without a second thought.

It is also important to note that my diet is pretty strict during the week, but I loosen up the reigns on the week-ends.  This is a system that works really well for me.  I never feel deprived and I get to enjoy life and eat like a "normal person" several times a week. I must say, I rather enjoy not being normal most of the time.  :)

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