Feb 12, 2014

Clean Eating... or Not?

What is your idea of clean eating?  For some people it is low calorie, low fat or low carb.  For others it is eating more whole foods and less processed foods.  For me, it is reducing the amount of poisonous chemicals, like formaldehyde and arsenic, out of my diet.  This sounds drastic, right?  It does not make sense that I would even say these items are in our food but they are.  Today I am going to talk about the transition I have taken through what I view to be clean eating.  Formaldehyde and arsenic will be another blog.

(not clean)

Clean eating has transitioned for me throughout my 'getting healthy' life.  The first part of getting healthy involved eating smaller portions and then it moved to cooking my own foods instead of eating Hamburger Helper or other prepackaged stuff.  I started losing weight, feeling great and looking better.  I liked it a lot and decided it would be really awesome to keep it up.  This led to my weight loss journey and to read more on that, click on the link in this sentence.

So I started eating all things low fat, reduced fat and light.  Even fat free which I thought tasted like shit so I was clever about it and I mixed a full flavor item with something not so full flavor.  For example I used to buy calorie free salad dressings from Walden Farms.  They are calorie free, sugar free, carb free, cholesterol free and taste free.  Oh wait, I added the taste free part myself.  ;)  Most of their products were not so delicious so I would mix the raspberry dressing with a different brand of light raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.  I had to adjust to the taste but it was worth it to have less calories.  Eventually, I got used to it and it tasted quite delicious.  This is really how it happened when I started drinking beer in high school too!!! 

I began eating the way many fitness inspired individuals do.  I ate egg whites and turkey bacon, tilapia, broccoli and protein shakes.  Tilapia and broccoli are whole foods so I still eat those but I was not getting some nutrients found in the egg  yolk.  True, egg yolks are also where the cholesterol comes from but I will have 1 full egg and 2 egg whites rather than all egg whites.  This way I get the benefit of the nutrient without the added cholesterol and calories.  Protein shakes have their place but I do not think they are great meal replacements on a regular basis.

(sorta clean)

One night after drinking and dancing, my friend introduced me to sugar free cheesecake pudding.  OMG!!  It was so good and such a great treat..... oh, and don't forget low calorie!  I never really ate regular pudding so I did not recognize any difference in taste.  I discovered Stevia which is a no calorie natural sweetener derived from a plant but it has an after taste so I did not really like that.  I did like Truvia which was derived from Stevia but tasted WAAAAY better.  This I could do. 


I started drinking coffee during a very slow, long and boring training that was very important and I had to stay awake for it.  That led me to drink 1 cup of coffee per day but I did not want to have cream in it and black was a bit rough so I used Truvia.  mmmmm....good.  I thought it was genius to be able to have my cake and eat it too.... or my sugar and drink it too!  What a great way to sweeten my coffee without added fat and calories!

During my clean eating and getting healthy journey I paid attention to the necessary vitamins and nutrients that the body needs to be healthy.  Certain vitamins are good for specific things like calcium is great for bones, teeth and nails.  Everyone knows Vitamin C is great for the immune system so we all pound it when we are getting a cold or any other sickness. 

I noticed the better I ate, the stronger my immune system became and allergies bothered me less.  I learned which fruits and vegetables absorbed more pesticides and that ingesting pesticides can have harmful effects.  With this, I began buying only organic apples and organic spinach since I eat a lot of those items.  This way I was reducing the sheer amount of unseen chemicals I ingested.  It is tasteless, odorless and we don't really know the harm it is causing until it is too late.     

(not clean)

I started to learn how the body develops disease and ailments from the artificial crap that is in the foods we eat.  For example, Red Dye 40 can cause excitability in children and even cause an incorrect diagnosis of ADHD.  On a whim, I just googled it right now and found an article on Dr. Oz's site http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/food-dyes-are-they-safe.  I am happy to see that this is becoming more mainstream because when I talked about it before, people just disregarded it.  PS, Red No. 40 is in a ton of stuff, including your kids' fruit candy snacks. 

(not clean)

I learned that cancer is caused by damaged cells and cells get damaged by free radicals.  Free radicals are cause by a variety of things like toxins, stress, pollution, chemicals and more.  I started to realize that on a day to day basis there were many things I was inadvertently exposed to that could cause cancer.  I was using lotion with parabens in it, cooking on skillets with PHTAs and beauty products with PHTAs in them, sometimes my life would be stressful, I was eating pesticides, arsenic and other processed stuff.  We all are.  Every day. 

I started paying attention to what calorie free, fat free and reduced fat really meant.  In order to reduce fat in peanut butter or cooking oil, the product was being partially hydrogenated (this is when hydrogen is added to the oil at extremely high temperatures) which created trans-fat.  It was also done to help preserve the shelf life.  We learned later that trans-fat is not good for the heart but we were consuming it in order to have less calories or fat in a food product and make it last longer. 
(clean eggs & toast)

(clean except for the bell pepper)

Does clean eating include products that are generally recognized as being safe (GRAS) by the FDA?  It sounds like they are generally safe so that is great!  Or is it?  What does 'generally' safe mean to you?  It sounds like this means most of the time a product is safe.  Although, driving is 'generally' safe.  When is generally not safe? And who could it effect when it is not generally safe?

I would say I fall under the generally safe category because I do not have any health issues, allergies or anything to be concerned about.  Plus, our body filters toxins through the blood, kidneys, liver and vital organs so we can be exposed to foreign items and still be OK.  What about those who do have health issues?  Is this 'generally' safe for them?  How do we know when a 'generally' safe product can create other issues?  For example people who are chronically sick but have not figured out what is wrong or how to correct it.  It reminds me of a woman who was diagnosed with MS only to find that once she stopped drinking aspartame the MS went away.  What really happened is that the aspartame created MS-like symptoms because it is foreign to the body.  Once it was eliminated she was fine.  When we repeatedly expose ourselves, and our loved ones, to small amounts of a chemical in every product we use or food that we eat it can become a problem.
(Mostly clean)

I used Walden Farms in the above example only because that is the product that I used.  Please know I am not saying anything bad about the company or picking on them.  I truly loved using their products because I felt like I was getting the best of both worlds.  Taste and low cal.  I took a look at the label and saw xantham gum; per Web MD is made of  "fermented sugar mixed with certain bacteria" and propylene glycol alginate which is derived from kelp and then chemically processed.  Each of them is used as thickeners in food products and they are usually in pretty small amounts.  These are examples of products that are GRAS.  These are on many, many food labels.  I never gave it much thought because I recognized it as being in everything.  Since the FDA allows it, I thought it was fine. I wrote an article on why the FDA allows harmful chemicals, toxins and pollutants in everything (in small amounts) and you can read it here.
(Mostly clean)
This brings me to the latest topic in the news.  That is that Subway's bread contains a chemical, Azodiacarbonamide, that is used to produce yoga mats and make the rubber on a shoe.  Subway is recognized as healthy and Jarrod lost a bunch of weight by changing his eating habits and eating there.  By all means, Subway has some great low calorie options but it IS processed -just like any fast food- and there are crazy things in there that man was not intended to eat.

It is really not a big deal to those of us whose immune systems are functioning optimally because our bodies are designed to filter stuff out.  In small amounts.  And that is the key here.  "Small amounts".  As long as we are exposed to a small amount of a substance, gas, toxin or pollutant then it is OK.  As long as we only consume a small amount of a chemically processed product or pesticide we will live.  Our body reminds me of "The Terminator" because it regenerates and heals and cures itself just like the Terminator did.  We do not regrow limbs, it still is quite the miracle machine.
(Clean except for pesticides & salsa preservatives)
The problem is that it was never intended to put small amounts of stuff into it all day long and expose it to pollution all day long.  Not to mention the topical things we use like lotion, make up, face wash, and shampoo, etc.  I began to be more aware of how my clean eating was not as clean as it could be.  It was low calorie and I was healthy but I could be more choosy about the added chemicals since there are small amounts in almost every product and food.

The next transition I made was eating more whole foods to reduce the number of items I consumed that had small amounts of pesticides and chemicals.  I also incorporated beauty products with little or no chemicals.  I still use products with chemicals and eat foods with pesticides (more in another blog) but I have reduced the number of items to help reduce the load on my body.  It is healthier and cleaner that way.

What is your view on clean eating?  Post your comments, I would like to hear your thoughts.

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  1. Everyone should practice clean eating...but I think the hustle and bustle of every day life throws that off. I think that some people really want to eat clean, but because they are so busy...that running through a drive-thru is more convenient? What are your thoughts?

    1. Suzette- I totally agree that the hustle and bustle can get in the way of clean eating. One huge point I like to make is that it generally takes a few minutes to drive to the food place (whether it is fast food or a restaurant) and then it takes a few minutes to place the order and receive the food.

      This total time is about how long it takes me to get my full day's worth of meals ready to go to work. Taking a few minutes the night or day before to get your meals/snacks prepared is the same amount of time for ONE drive-thru trip. Some people may even make 2 or more drive-thru trips. And a restaurant is even longer! With this amount of time I can cook some meat and prepare veggies for a few meals to pop in the fridge. Then it is ready to divvy up throughout the week :)