Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Guest Post: The Dos and Don’ts of Clean Eating

Clean eating is a catchy, popular phrase that can basically mean eating healthy. Although the exact meaning of clean eating can vary, in general it refers to eating whole, unprocessed foods. It limits consumption of fast food or packaged, processed foods that many Americans have grown to rely on.

The idea of eating clean is not new, but the term clean eating is. Whether you call it clean eating or not, eating more unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and lean proteins is beneficial for overall health. Here are some practical dos and don’ts tips for clean eating that can be a guideline for you to follow.

Cut out processed food

Cutting out processed food is the main focus of the clean eating movement. Processed food is a catch all term for any food that comes in a bag, box, can or other packaging that can sit on a shelf for a good amount of time without spoiling. Processed food is notorious for being high in sugar, unhealthy fats, sodium, preservatives and low in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

By cutting out processed food, your food should be “cleaner” because it doesn’t have added artificial ingredients and is true to its purest form from nature. A word of caution: cutting out processed food can be hard! This is especially hard if you are used to eating packaged food and not used to cooking. However, the health benefits are well worth it.

Bump up fruits and vegetables

Besides cutting out processed food, which is a great first step, make sure to eat a high amount of fruits and vegetables for clean eating. Some people suggest clean eating also entails eating organic fruits and vegetables when possible to lower pesticide residue.
Focus on eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables when they are in season. This can be done easily by shopping at farmer’s markets or purchasing a community supported agriculture (CSA) share from a local farm.

Fruits and vegetables have many important nutrients, plus they are high in fiber which can increase satiety. Don’t cut out processed food without bumping up your fruit and vegetable intake; these two steps should go hand in hand.

Stay away from hard to pronounce ingredients

Staying away from hard to pronounce food ingredients can be much easier when you cut down on processed foods. Most hard to pronounce words in ingredient labels are preservatives meant to prolong the shelf life of food products. Clean eating focuses on eliminating these preservatives and other chemicals in the food system.

Know where your food comes from

Eating local is sometimes associated with clean eating because eating local also focuses on minimizing processed food. Knowing where your food comes from means trying to eat locally grown fruits and vegetables or locally raised proteins when possible. If you have the choice of buying locally grown blueberries or blueberries from South America, choose local if you can.

Eating foods from a local food system can increase nutrient density of food, as local foods are usually not harvested before they are ripe which can increase vitamin and mineral content.

Be balanced

Something to avoid with clean eating is to get over obsessed about eating perfect food. Food is meant to be enjoyed and nourishing for the body and mind, but it should not be exhausting or obsessive. Also, keep in mind whatever diet you follow, balance and moderation are important concepts. Keep meals balanced with healthy carbohydrate, protein and fat sources.

The term orthorexia is defined as having an unhealthy obsession with eating pure (or clean). Clean eating should be a healthy lifestyle, not a rigid eating pattern. If you need to eat something out of a package while trying to eat clean it is not the end of the world. As with anything, keep healthy choices the majority and easiest choice but learn to deal with situations where you may not be able to eat exactly how you want to or are used to.

Learn what you can adapt from clean eating principles and know where you may need to adjust these guidelines, depending on your circumstances. Eat balanced meals that include the major food categories unless you have food illnesses or intolerances.


Clean eating is a popular term for healthy eating with a focus on fresh, natural food. Clean eating limits intake of processed food and fast food, which can be difficult with the usual busy American lifestyle. Clean eating focuses on eating a high number of fresh fruits and vegetables, and some would say this also includes eating organic foods when possible. 
Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is also recommended.

Other additions to clean eating can be trying to eat as local as possible and knowing where your food comes from. An important consideration for ay diet or health trend is to remember food should be enjoyed and is meant to nourish the body, not be an obsession with strict eating rules.

Guest post provided by Holly Klamer. Holly is a registered dietitian with a MS degree in nutrition and exercise science. She teaches nutrition at 2 colleges in Denver and has her own nutrition consulting business, Step Ahead Nutrition. You can connect with Holly on her Google+ page. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Healthy food option at the mall food court

Eating away from home is challenging when you try to eat clean.

While food courts are loaded  with places serving fast food, there also places for healthier
options. Not all the food in the food court is as bad as we often think it is.

o survive the mall food court I check out all the food offerings and choose the healthiest options.

I am happy to share that I avoided high-calorie, unhealthy food court temptations and found two healthy options for eating at the mall I go to frequently. This food is consistent with the Eat Like Me approach and expands the variety of food I eat. On the left are delicious veggie fries. Spinach salad with grilled chicken on the right. Will take a picture of the second option soon.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

We don't eat enough fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and some cancers. 

They are also a key part of weight management, and hold many key nutrients that keep the human body running efficiently. 

Only 13 percent of Americans are eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. What's your excuse?

I eat lots of fruits and veggies every day. Together with lean protein (chicken breast, fish or turkey white meat) they are part of all of my meals. I select fresh low-sugar fruits and fresh non-starchy vegetables. 

Eating large amount of the right food is my key to success. Vegetables and fruits provide me with fiber, which in combination with lean proteins practically assures that I don’t feel any hunger. 

Certain fruits like pineapple, watermelon and bananas are high in sugar, and they don't promote weight loss. I don’ t eat starchy vegetables - potatoes and corn, either.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Misconceptions about weight loss

Widely popular assumption that in order to lose weight you must eat less and exercise more has been the foundation of many weight-loss programs. Unfortunately, it also reinforces the incorrect opinion that that weight loss has to be a struggle and a painful experience. 

The first part, portion control, is not the most effective way to lose weight. Reducing your portions to the point that you feel hungry at the end of a meal will not work. It is hard to force yourself to eat less. It is hard to stop eating when you are still hungry. It goes against human nature. In my opinion hunger is the most significant problem with weight loss and a diet that results in hunger will never be successful. Unless you are super-human, and hunger does not bother you. For the rest of us, when we are hungry, the feeling of an empty stomach is very difficult, if not impossible, to tolerate.

The second part, exercise more to lose weight, is simply not realistic. Some find it hard to accept but exercise isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. Even if you exercised every day, in order to achieve any noticeable weight reduction, you would have to do it for hours each day. Exercise is great for our physical health and state of mind, and for preventing weight gain in the first place, but it has a disappointingly small effect on weight loss. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Developing routines

Battling excess weight is one of the most frustrating, challenging and emotionally draining experience. Many people struggle with a never ending battle to lose weight and get healthy. If you make appropriate changes for a period of time you will lose weight, but when you go back to your previous eating you will gain all the weight back.

You have to realize that losing weight involves a major lifestyle change. If no changes are made to your lifestyle, the moment you stop eating healthy (your diet), you are likely to return to your previous eating, which leads to the Yo-Yo phenomenon. When you go back to your previous eating you will gain all the weight back.

Since you will be making some huge changes to your diet, you need to condition your brain so that eventually, making better food choices will be automatic. To change your lifestyle you must take psychological and behavioral actions. Your attitude and perspective are essential. Your thoughts will guide you to success or to failure. If you are in the wrong state of mind, you will not follow the eating approach.

Do whatever it takes to make eating healthy a positive experience. An early win helps enormously for anyone trying to achieve a difficult task.  The new behavior starts to feel normal. It will take less discipline to repeat the action.  Developing routines and making it your lifestyle is the key. Once you have created new routines and stick with them, those routines will eventually turn into habits and become your new lifestyle. When your decisions, food choices, and lifestyle become an energizing routine you will be setting yourself up for weight loss success.

Losing weight and sustaining that healthy lifestyle is a process and journey. It is never over.

Monday, May 25, 2015

It is not that easy

Well, weight loss is not easy. 

First it took me a while to start doing something about my surprising weight gain. I kept delaying action time, because I “knew” that I would be easy. I lost 91 pounds before, so I thought I would lose the recently gained 20 pounds as soon as I start my efforts. 

And, as expected, when I stopped allowing myself to relax healthy eating on week-ends and was strong while watching TV in the evenings (no unhealthy snacks), the weight started to come down. I got to 180 pounds relatively quickly. Losing 10 pounds felt good. It confirmed that when I made efforts I lost weight. 

Something else also happened. Since I was successful again, I did not keep going to get to my healthy weight of 170 pounds.  I relaxed my eating and I stayed at the 180-182 level. My arrogant thinking that “I can lose weight easily any time I want” prevailed and I am remaining at the 180 pounds point. 

I am weak.

Monday, April 6, 2015

I gained weight while training for marathon

I avoided writing about running on my blog, because I did not want anybody to think that you must exercise to lose weight. I am mentioning it now, because I want to share something strange I experienced. Something that is related to weight loss and running.

I tried to start running when I was obese. I weighed 261 pounds then and it was very hard. It felt terrible. I pushed myself to run for 20 to 30 seconds and got tired quickly. Few weeks later I injured my knee and had to have a surgery. After the knee surgery I had to wait several month to try to start running again. I was already eating healthy and managed to lose significant amount of weight. After I lost weight and started running again, it was so different. Running was much easier. It felt like if I were another person. I fell in love with running, and according to many, who successfully lost weight, it helped with maintenance.

Last year learned something that enhanced my knowledge and understanding of weight loss and running. I learned that nutrition for marathon running and nutrition for health do not go together. The energy gels that I started to eat on the long run days during the two last months of marathon training are among the least beneficial for overall health. They contain simple sugars like sucrose and glucose. I now know why I gained 10 pounds while training for marathon.

I then allowed myself not to comply with healthy eating during times before and after Thanksgiving and Christmas and in January 2015 I ended up to be 20 pounds away from my healthy weight.  Yep. S… happens.