Fall is officially here and with the cooler weather come Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas — three excuses to eat badly for three months. I eat leftover candy because I don’t want my daughter to eat all of it, lots of stuffing and mashed potatoes because I only eat them once a year, and pecan pie and pumpkin pie and the fixings because it’s the holidays. I know January 1st is coming and I can start eating healthfully again then, but that’s three months of giving myself a break.
Not this year.
I listen to Rachel Hollis’ podcasts and she has a #last90days challenge in which I’ve decided to participate. It doesn’t have to be just about food; I want to be a better version of myself. I am cutting sugar, gluten and alcohol. The big thing I have already learned in just 19 days is that if I stumble, it doesn’t mean I have failed, it just means I start over tomorrow. This isn’t an excuse to binge, but it does keep me from giving up. My goals include being more productive, eating healthier, exercising 30 minutes a day, and setting emotional, mental, and physical goals. I plan my day/week/month, noting my goals and what I am doing to achieve those goals. I had an “aha” moment when someone asked how am I measuring whether I am working towards my goal. I realized then that it makes me more accountable to have a defined way to measure my progress. I am guilty of getting on social media for business and then an hour later, I still haven’t completed that “business” task. I want to be more aware of where my time is going and how I will accomplish the things I want in a day/week/month.
Clean eating is defined differently for different people.
I have done the Keto diet on and off for the last year or so. Keto is a high fat, low carb diet. When I do it effectively I don’t have cravings and I am not very hungry. I also feel less brain fog and have more energy. I tend to eat more meat than veggies, so I am trying to incorporate more greens into my diet. I usually don’t get enough fat either, so I use medium-chain triglyceride oil to increase my fat intake. While I am trying to lose weight, I try to stay under 20 net grams of carbohydrates.
Shopping tends to be difficult because everything contains sugar. I love sauces and I have learned to make them myself or search for sugar free options. Here are some hacks that keep me going:
1. Keep sugar free sweet treats around for an emergency.
I keep Halo Top ice cream and homemade whipped cream in my freezer. I try to fight any cravings I may have, but I don’t want to cave in and eat my husband’s Oreos or doughnuts. I found a bakery in Cleveland that delivers homemade baked Keto treats. I purchased the chocolate chip cookies and cheese bagels — both were excellent. I freeze those so they can last me.
2. I don’t buy chips because they are my weakness.
I buy popcorn and pretzels for my daughter and those don’t tempt me. I buy gluten free chips and when I really want a food with a crunch, I count out a few chips and eat them slowly. I also keep pistachios and cashews around for my salty crunch fix. Figure out what your weakness is and don’t have it in the house, even if that means that your husband has to keep his sweet treat in his car.
3. I give myself a cheat meal on the weekend, which usually means I can eat a lot of gluten free chips.
I want to be strict with the sugar, gluten and alcohol because of the mental clarity I get.
4. Keep healthy snacks in your car or purse, and have a meal or healthy snack ready if you are starving.
I have leftovers that can be heated up quickly, and I plan out and cook about five meals with the ingredients I have stocked in my pantry.
5. Rice and wheat are no longer options, so I use alternatives.
I found coconut flour frozen tortilla shells from Whole Foods and use shirataki noodles in stir fry meals or soups. Cauliflower works as my substitute for rice and I add spaghetti squash to casseroles. There are a lot of options with zucchini as well.
6. Have water available at all times and drink lots of it; if your electrolytes get low drink pickle juice.
I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen learning different methods of cooking healthier foods. I don’t drink soda or juice, but I like sparkling water. I also drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water every morning.
Once or twice a week and especially if I have cheated and eaten processed carbs, I will fast for as long as I can. I drink coffee in the morning and then I just drink water. This tends to flush the sugar out of my blood and my blood sugar evens out. In ketosis you want to keep your blood sugar stable so it is not spiking and crashing. My irritability and cravings come in when my blood sugar crashes. When I follow the diet I don’t have that issue and food can do what it’s supposed to: nourish my body and mind, not deplete them.
Though I am not a dietician, I absolutely believe that what we put in our body can either help us or hurt us.