30 Day Clean Eating Challenge!
Updated: May 29, 2022
If you are reading this, you are most likely interested in trying to eat healthier. Maybe you are curious about what this clean eating challenge is all about. Well get ready! I will explain basically what it means to eat clean and how the next 30 Days will help you REBOOT, RESET, and RECHARGE! I couldn't be more excited to share this with you because doing this several years ago is what helped me start eating a clean diet as a lifestyle, and it literally changed my life! I feel so much better, I sleep better, I lost weight, I have more energy, I have fewer headaches and general aches and pains....I can go on! Basically during the next 30 Days we will be focusing on eating whole foods and cut way back on processed, packaged foods. We will go on as much of a sugar fast as possible! We will want to eat foods that are as close as possible to the way they looked coming out of the ground or off the tree. We will focus on lean proteins, whole-grains, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats. We will cut back on, or eliminate refined grains, added sugar, additives, preservatives, unhealthy fats and large amounts of salt. So if you are ready, let's get started! Let me go over, in general, the foods that are clean and full of nature's best health-promoting nutrients. We will talk about these, but first, let me help you prepare for success! Here are just a few key points to help you get going with this challenge!
Get the proper mindset! Decide you are going to give this your very best shot and do not allow for excuses. Mindset is everything! Decide to succeed! Pray and ask God to help you along the way! He has called us all to do many things in our lives and we have to be fit for the mission! Investing in your health will make you better in every other area of your life!
Do a kitchen clean out! Get rid of any junk foods, sweets, sodas, etc. that will be a temptation to you. Just get rid of it! If it's not there, you won't eat it! We will be cutting way back on foods that come in a bag or a box.
Plan! Each week make your menu for the week, including breakfasts and healthy snacks, then prepare your grocery list. If you have everything you need ready to prepare healthy meals, it will make it much less tempting to get something that is not as healthy. Plan for success!
Be a label reader! The best foods to eat during this challenge do not have a label, like fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean protein. However, when you are deciding whether or not to buy or eat a food, get in the habit of looking at the label! Look for 100% whole grain, little or no added sugar, lower sodium, etc.
Drink water like it's your job! Shoot for the 8x8 rule...8 glasses of 8 oz of water...or 64 oz of water per day. Many people walk around everyday dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water will keep every system in your body running smoother. It will help your skin, digestion, joints, and help flush things out! This will help keep you feeling full too, in between meals. So drink up!
Plan to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Incorporate cardio as well as strength training into your routine. If you think you don't have time for exercise, get up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings! Magically, you will have that extra 30 minutes to rev that metabolism and get that heart pumping!
Ok! Now, let's talk about the foods that we DO want to eat for the next month (and hopefully beyond)! Here we go!!
Whole-grains! Many, if not not most, grains out there are processed by the manufacturer by taking the whole grain and processing, or refining, it by taking away part or parts of the three-part grain (bran, endosperm, and germ). This means it loses much of it nutritional value, then they add back in some, but not all, of the nutrients. This is called "enriching"....so it is better to look for "unrefined" grain to keep it as natural as possible, using the whole grain. Also, in whole wheat, the entire grain is used, adding fiber so it is digested slower, and keeping you feeling full longer and helps slow the digestion of the starch part of the grain. Here's the biggie; most white breads (or even brown wheat bread that is not 100% whole grain) is made up of just that starchy inner part of the grain that your body will metabolize just like sugar. So you have to be diligent to look for 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat as the first ingredient on the label! Here are some whole grains to choose from during the challenge. 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain bread, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley are good options. Look for whole wheat pasta as well.
Vegetables! The more the merrier! Most Americans do not get the recommended 2 1/2 to 3 cups of veggies per day. They are low in calories and packed with nutrition! Aim to add fresh veggies to every meal and choose them as snacks as well. Fresh vegetables are best. I like to saute them in a healthy fat such as olive oil. You can steam them or roast them as well. If you can't get fresh, frozen is the next best option. Eat starchy veggies in moderation, such as potatoes or corn. I love a yummy veggie omelette almost every morning. High in protein and low in unhealthy carbs, it makes a great breakfast!
Fruit! Fruit is higher in natural sugar than some foods, but it is also packed with vitamins and minerals. Fruit also contains fiber which helps slow the digestion of the sugar into your bloodstream. Stick to skin-on fruit over juices to get that fiber. Since we are going to be avoiding added sugar for 30 days, fruit can help fill that void. Aim to get 2 cups of fruit per day.
Lean proteins! Protein is essential for our over-all health. It helps keep you full and is important for building muscle and keeping your skin and hair healthy. Fresh meats and seafood all fit into our challenge. Vegetarian proteins such as eggs, Greek yogurt (plain and no or very little sugar), beans, nuts, and tofu all fit too. Protein bars and shakes can have added sugar or ingredients we can't pronounce, so try to aim to get your protein from whole foods. When preparing meat or seafood, avoid frying them. Go for grilled, roasted, pan-seared, baked, or sauteed. These are healthier ways to prepare them.
Dairy! Dairy products provide nutrients that are critical to our overall health. Calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein are all among the goodness that dairy provides. Go for dairy products such as plain or low sugar yogurt, milk, and cheese. Choose only natural cheese, not processed cheese "products".
Healthy fats! Healthy fats are crucial in helping our bodies absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K. They help keep us feeling full and satisfied, they add flavor to food, and help keep your heart healthy. Choose olive oil, avocado oil, and canola oil for cooking. Nuts, avocados and olives are great sources of healthy fats. Avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which are trans fats. This shouldn't be a problem for you during this challenge, because we will be avoiding most packaged foods which is where they live.
Water! Drink plenty of water! As we discussed earlier...staying hydrated will do wonders for you!
Ok, so now let's talk about foods to avoid this month. Here goes!
Added sugar! No added sugar during the challenge! You can go 30 days without it I promise. You will be enjoying the natural sugar in fruit to help with the sweet tooth. Doing this will reset your taste so your body will get acclimated to the sweetness of fruit to satisfy you. The first few days might be a little hard if you are used to eating a lot of sweets or drinking sodas, but I know you can do it! The main culprits are candy, cookies, pastries, cakes, pies, sodas and fruit drinks. You will feel so much better getting it out of your system! Look for the amount of sugar added into healthier foods like yogurt, dressings and cereal. Look at labels. The higher the sugar is on the list of ingredients, the higher the percentage it is in the product. Sugar has a lot of different names. Look for corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, just to name a few! Too much sugar increases your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and other diseases. Sugar causes inflammation in the body. If you need a sweetener in your coffee or tea, I recommend Stevia. In cooking, if you need a sweet element to balance the taste, try honey. Although it is a natural sugar, it still should be used sparingly, but honey also contains many nutrients including vitamins B and C. It contains many minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphate and potassium.
Packaged foods! Not all packaged foods are bad. Think pistachios or yogurt. But most foods that come in a bag or a box have a list of ingredients that you can't pronounce, with many additives and preservatives that we need to avoid. This month will be a good time to make your own homemade, healthier versions of packaged foods such as dressings and sauces where you can control the ingredients.
Sodas! No...just no! They are full of sugar, artificial sweeteners, additives and mystery ingredients. If you are used to drinking a lot of these, cutting them out will make you feel like a new person.
Alcohol! Give your liver a break. Drinking alcohol can burden your body and keep it from carrying out many more important functions. It not only has lots of calories, it does a number on your metabolism. Now is a good time to give your body a break from alcohol.
No white flour! As we talked about earlier, just go for 100% whole grain bread or pasta. Your body treats white flour as a starch and it will have similar effects as sugar. Read labels! For our challenge, use bread and pasta sparingly.
Ok! Are you ready to feel more energy, sleep better and maybe lose some weight? Stick to the foods we are concentrating on and avoid the ones we need to stay away from and I can tell you, you will feel like a new person! Keep healthy snacks on hand. Plan healthy meals, including breakfasts. Use recipes from my blog (www.foodforthought.today), or other resources for healthy recipes for your dinners and make extras for lunches. Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the middle aisles where packaged and many unhealthy foods hang out! Weigh yourself one or twice a week, but try not to get hung up on numbers. Drink plenty of water. Be positive and picture yourself eating healthier and feeling better than ever! Get a friend to do the challenge and exercise with you! Remember to pray about this and ask God to help you live and eat healthier. You've got this! I am here for you too! Let's do this!