Although I’m surrounded by family and friends who have discovered gluten or dairy allergies, I’ve never thought of MYSELF as susceptible to such things! It’s been eat-whatever-I-want since the land before time. But when I moved from Mongolia back to the States, I quickly became disillusioned with the options on the average grocery store shelf: soft drinks, frozen dinners, all kinds of packaged and processed goodies, aisles and aisles of sugar-packed, nutrition-empty cardboard. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but hey, I was too busy to do anything about it!
However, things changed when I started suffering from regular night terrors about a year ago. These episodes came with sleepwalking (sometimes running!), hallucinations, and waking up in absolute panic. It would take a while to fall back to sleep, which as you can probably imagine, really affected my energy levels during the day! I tried all kinds of things to get rid of this nighttime anxiety, but a year passed with little to no change.
It was around the end of 2017 that I started reading articles about people who were eating clean. These folks had cut some pretty big elements out of their diet, but they boasted more energy during the day, better sleep at night, and an over all GLOW of health. The key point for me was when one gal claimed that her anxiety and panic attacks went ENTIRELY away within a month or two of clean eating. Bingo! I knew I had to check it out.
With the start of the new year came an opportunity to figure out my night terrors once and for all. Although many things can contribute to anxiety, I knew that I HAD to try the diet route! If it was as simple as cutting out certain foods, then by golly I would do whatever it took! So I had my last bite of peanut butter pie at 11:50 PM on New Years Eve, and then braced myself for what would be one of the most difficult things I’ve done in a long time. The next day I dived into the deep end of eating clean.
Everyone seems to have a different definition of what it means to eat clean. As for me, I believe that every person and body has unique needs. Folks should try to understand the way their own system works, including what foods to avoid and what to ingest. For this reason, my particular clean eating system may look different than someone else’s! I may tweak things over time, but for now, here is the nitty gritty of what I’ve gotten myself into:
NO processed or added sugars
YES water and coffee
YES organic (mostly) fruits and vegetables
YES red meat, poultry, and fish (I try to avoid anything super fatty or fried though. Goodbye bacon!)
It’s pretty amazing what gets eliminated from your diet when you take away these three things on the NO list! I am now 17 days into the journey, and I can officially say it is WORTH IT. I have slept like a baby since the start of this year, and I continue to feel better and BETTER. Not only does it improve your health, but it also increases your self-esteem to realize that discipline and self-control is a CHOICE that you ARE capable of making! However, I will give you a heads up, it gets WORSE before it gets BETTER.
One thing I was NOT ready for was dealing with the CRAVINGS. Sugar withdrawal is a real thing folks! Not to mention the fact that I ate a lot of chocolate over the holidays. And I mean a LOT. It has taken several days of pretty intense self-control (and hubby accountability) to avoid caving in all three areas!! Turns out my body was pretty dependent on gluten, sugar, and dairy! However, now that I’ve made it almost three weeks, I am beginning to feel the positive effects. My sleep is better, I am starting to feel lighter and more bouncy during the day, and my skin feels better than ever! So if you are considering some sort of drastic diet change, please know that it will get HARDER before it gets EASIER, but the destination is worth it!
I don’t believe this diet is for everyone. After all, we are all different and our bodies have grown used to eating certain things! Some folks need a healthy amount of gluten and dairy in their diet, not to mention that we ALL need a moderate sugar intake for tip top health! However, on the other hand, I KNOW that there are elements to our American diet that we should ALL ditch. We would be a much healthier nation if we all said NO to soft drinks, sugary cereals, candy bars and a whole host of other cultural staples! But you should feel free to go at your own pace, adjusting your diet as you need. At the end of the day, our goal should be to glorify God in our eating, and not allow the desires of our flesh control our lives! Oh man. This is a lesson I will be learning my entire life. Never before has it been easier to indulge in whatever our bodies want! So start learning the power of saying NO to yourself NOW!
So for anyone interested in getting started on a Clean Eating diet right along with me, here is a morning shake recipe that I found on Off-Beat and Inspired that I have absolutely fallen in LOVE with!
-1/2 frozen banana (peeled and frozen beforehand)
-1/2 cup frozen strawberries and/or blueberries
-a handful of raw spinach
-a generous tablespoon of Almond Butter
-1 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 cup of unsweetened Almond Milk
Blend everything up in a NutriBullet (an absolutely VITAL tool for any kitchen!) and enjoy!
I know that I am a 100% newbie to this whole Clean Eating way of life, so if you have any suggestions or resources that you use I would LOVE to hear about it! After all, none of us can do this alone. ♥️ Love you all!