Eating Clean has been a buzz word for some time now. Less about diet and more about a way of life – and a focus on eating primarily unprocessed foods, it is a concept that many in The Leader area have embraced.
Lorraine Cherry said that as a result of reading several of Michael Pollan’s books like the Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, she strongly believes in the importance of eating real food.
“I try to avoid any packaged food that has more than four ingredients or has unrecognizable chemical ingredients,” she said. “I don’t eat low-fat dairy foods or baked goods, which not only don’t taste very good but also make up for the fat content with more sugar. When I want to eat vegetarian, I don’t reach for fake meats that have the flavor profile pumped up with chemicals and artificial flavors. I trend towards a lot of traditional ethnic foods which are typically made with fresh, seasonal ingredients and have been the backbone of regional cuisines for centuries.”
I became more interested in the concept two years ago, although I wouldn’t have known to call it clean eating. I have Crohn’s Disease, which is an auto-immune disease, and after experiencing a particularly bad flare, I was ready to try anything to feel better in addition to my medicine.
A blogger turned me on to a book called Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall which touts the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. In a nutshell, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is sort of similar to the Paleo diet and limits the eating of complex carbohydrates. Prohibited foods include cereal grains, potatoes and lactose-containing dairy products. The theory is that certain people have a harder time breaking down complex carbs and that in turn causes inflammation in the body.
I love bread more than I love chocolate. But as I mentioned, I was desperate, so I tried it. My flare subsided and I lost 15 pounds to boot. The diet wasn’t easy and I’ve since eased up on it – the author of the above book recommends it as a lifelong habit – but I do pay more attention to what I eat now and have made an effort to cut out processed foods.
At any rate, it gave me more of an appreciation for what food can do for you when you are eating the right things for your body. And I’m certainly not the only one who feels this way.
Garden Oaks resident Tana Taylor had three babies in five years. In January of last year she promised herself that she would start thinking about her own well-being and started going to classes at the YMCA on 34th St. There she met instructor Katy Wood and eventually joined her monthly clean eating challenge which is a private Facebook group that shares recipes and motivates participants to exercise.
Always a veggie lover, Taylor said that her participation made her think more about how she was preparing them. She made an effort to avoid preservatives and to choose better snacks. Taylor also said she took a hard look at how much her family ate out and started to cook a lot more at home. Instead of pasta, her family had zoodles (zucchini noodles). They found they all were crazy about a ground turkey and sweet potato skillet recipe. Taylor gave up sugar.
Now 50 pounds lighter, Taylor feels great and has a lot more energy to chase her kids.
She is just one of the success stories from the Facebook group that Katy Wood administers along with Nicole Hartman and Morgan Shields. They are all Beachbody coaches but Wood says that while they use the company’s tools, purchasing Beachbody’s products is not a pre-requisite for joining the group.
Each week, they send seven different recipes along with lunch suggestions. These might come from Pinterest or from their own favorite meals. The recipes are low carb and low sugar with minimal dairy. They also offer substitution suggestions, like coconut flour in brownies or cauliflower pizza crust.
There are also theme days – like Motivation Monday and Transformation Tuesday where participants are encouraged to document their success. Sweaty selfies are encouraged too as exercise is a key component of the program.
“It’s moms uplifting moms,” said Wood. “There’s a lot of positivity among the women.”
Wood also notes that the spouses and partners of participants report benefits too because they eat the same things during the challenge.
Another approach with many similarities is taken by Bayou City CrossFit Coach Lori Reilly who also helps her clients with their nutrition when asked. Reilly says it’s not only what you eat but how much and when that impacts your overall health.
Reilly looks to proteins, good fats like avocado and coconut oil, and slow digesting carbs including plenty of leafy green vegetables with fruit in moderation to make the bulk of her diet. She avoids gluten, dairy and sugar. For her it’s a performance based way of eating. As a CrossFit coach, she asks a lot of her body.
Instead of three big meals a day, Reilly eats six smaller meals, one of them one to two hours before a workout and one 30 minutes after.
She notes that everybody’s balance looks a little bit different. For her it’s 90 percent/10 percent, meaning that indulgences make up a tenth of what she eats. For others it may be 80 percent/20 percent.
“You want to get yourself to the point where you are happy with eating clean,” she said.