This morning I sat down for breakfast with the girls. They each had a (homemade and reheated) pancake with (low-sugar) strawberry jam, as evidenced by the totally happy pink mustaches gracing their faces.
My breakfast was a bit less joyful. The bowl in front of me contained a chunky, sickly blue mash dotted over with several dark spots of blueberries. Yum, right? I managed to gulp down about half of it by simply not looking at it while I ate. Then I gave up and tossed the whole mess.
Yuck. My spirits sank and I thought, yeesh, what have I gotten myself into?
This week, starting with my sumptuous breakfast, I am participating in a Clean Eating 7-Day Challenge. Of course, there's only one other friend in the mix with me but we're keeping strong together.
Clean eating (CE) is pretty much what it sounds like: eating clean, healthy and minimally processed foods in moderation. For instance, one of the tips is to look for foods with only one or two ingredients listed on the label to avoid processed, man-made additives. There's other details to the lifestyle, as well, like eating every 3-4 hours, drinking 2 liters of water a day and getting lean proteins in every meal, combined of course with veggies, whole grains and exercise. Mostly common sense stuff, but taken to a more serious level of commitment.
I eat fairly well, in general. I learned last year that one of the things that helped me feel healthy and stay balanced was cutting way back on sugars and processed foods. Generally I still stick to that. But hey, like all recovering emotional eaters, I go through big ol' junk binges, just for the fun and bellyache of it all. That was my first motivation for doing this week of cleanliness. The empty containers of Peppermint ice cream, Oreo's and chips bags littering our trash bins lately don't exactly fill me with pride, more like gas and belly rolls. To put it more concisely, my jeans have begun to bitch me out every morning when I try and button up. Time to bring on the health. Plus, hey, something to pass the time, right?
Seriously, though, I really want to know how people do this, eat this way, LIVE this way, all the time. There's a huge amount of planning involved, not to mention conviction. To stick to it 100%, one would have to eat out very rarely and selectively, prep food ahead of time every single day AND carry something with you wherever you go, shop at least twice a week to keep up with all the fresh produce, and generally learn to ignore and avoid all the delicious temptations lining the streets of our society. Pumpkin Spice Latte from the drive-thru? Nope. Probably you could make one cleanly at home with a little creativity, but it just wouldn't be the same. Coffee and tea for clean eaters only comes in black. (Here, I cheat, but a tsp. of sugar and splash of milk aren't going to screw-up the whole experiment.)
I'm not making this sound appetizing, am I. Okay, here it is. I think it's brilliant in theory-- healthy, nutritional and, with good planning and handy recipes, often very tasty. My curiosity comes from wondering how someone could live this way ALL THE TIME. Will I feel deprived this week, or does it all fall into place? How hard is it, really, to keep on top of the planning and groceries? For that matter, is it significantly more expensive than your Standard American Diet (SAD)? Will my kids see me munching on hummus and go, "YUM! Mama, bring on the chickpeas!"
Okay, so let's go back to the oatmeal gone oh-so-wrong this morning. I messed it up all on my own. The menu said, "Dry oatmeal with egg whites cooked in water and top with mixed berries" and that's what I did. I stirred my egg whites and water into the oatmeal and cooked it. Then I stirred in (after trying to mush up all the chunks of egg white) frozen blueberries, thus the blue.
When I called Jess (my CE cohort for the week) and asked if she'd been able to choke the mess down, she almost hung up on me from laughing so hard. So maybe it made more sense (and would have been way less gross) to cook the oatmeal, add the berries and then serve it with cooked egg whites ON THE SIDE.
It was early, I hadn't had my coffee. Anyone could have made the same mistake. Hopefully I'll be a little more rational in the rest of my experiments this week.
Tonight: Sea bass with mango salsa, risotto and asparagus. Sounds good to me! Cross your fingers for me that it doesn't turn out blue and lumpy.
PS. Big congratulations to Alison and Colin! Their baby girl, April Caroline, was born this morning and everyone is healthy and doing well.