How to Fail at Clean Eating (+ How Not To)

 These sweet potato nachos are MOSTLY clean. But so so good! 

These sweet potato nachos are MOSTLY clean. But so so good! 

Hi guys!

QOTD (that’s “Question of the Day” for anyone under age 30): What kind of food comes to mind when you think about “clean eating?” Chances are, at least a few of you are mumbling “Well, lots of salads. And egg whites with veggies and salsa. Chicken breast with broccoli. Juice cleanses. Things of that nature.” 

And that may be true as those are all very clean foods. But guys, let’s be real-  four days in to that kind of eating and all you want is one of those hamburger birthday cakes and all the pizza and a loaf of bread. Right?! Every time I used to try and go on a strictly salad/ protein/ veggies diet, I would find myself inhaling a burrito the size of my head and a half pint of ice cream by the end of the week. Not because I lacked willpower, but because I was so bored with kale and shrimp. And probably even more so because I was fixated on the foods that I wasn’t eating. How are you supposed to maintain a long term relationship with healthy food if you’re constantly wishing you could dive face-first into a plate of fettuccini? 

Don’t get me wrong, salads are great. Personally, I like a balance of crispy raw veggies or a simple piece of grilled salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts to balance out meals with a more complex flavor profile, but I’d be lying if I said that I ate a salad every day.

When it comes to making changes, I’m all about the path of least resistance. That expression gets a back rep, like it makes you lazy or unmotivated or unwilling to exercise willpower. But think about it - what happens when you try to resist something?  You get fixated on what you can't have. When it comes to willpower around food, the odds aren’t exactly in your favor. We’re part of a culture of foodies and you literally can’t sit and drink a cup of coffee without someone in arms reaching taking an iPhone snap of their matcha latte. Or, for that matter, of their double cheeseburger and fries. Food is everywhere. Combine constant exposure with monotony, the emotional attachment we have to certain foods, the fact tht your brain actually fixates on things that you “can’t” have in a way that’s beyond your control, and you’re kind setting yourself up for failure. 

So, instead of telling my clients to cut things out of their diet, I explain that the most effective way to make a healthy, nutritious diet stick long term is to refuse to give up what you love. I mean, for sure experiment and eat other things to balance it out - but if I tried to give up my favorites (pizza, Mexican food, sweets) I’d end up binge eating donuts in a closet somewhere after a couple of days. So think about what you really love to eat, and eat it! 

Here’s the catch: you give it a good, nutrient-dense makeover. Personally, I find a way to bump the nutrient content of said favorites. I’ve “made over” everything from enchiladas to peanut butter brownies to mac n’ cheese in a way that tastes totally indulgent but is actually packed with healthy stuff and short on the yucky ingredients. I’m not talking about replacing fat with applesauce (that is literally so gross), either: I’ve taught myself how to make healthy food so indulgent that my most stubborn friends and family members reach for seconds and ask for recipes.

Not sure where to start? Well, you sure are in luck because today my friend Rachele and I dropped a Super Bowl Superfood Spread recipe book that does just that. We’ve made over about 15 of our favorite game day snacks and while I try to make my meals a little more nutrient dense than some of the recipes in this PDF, these are really yummy alternatives a lot of “trigger” foods - the salty and sweet stuff that we crave now and then. It’s a free download, so give a few of these a whirl and be sure to report back what you think! If you’re interested in giving a specific food a makeover and feel stuck, send me a message - happy to help. And if you’re feeling like you’re ready to make the big changes and want to work with a coach, I’ve got your back (and do free consultations).

For the Super Bowl Superfood Spread, click here! 

Happy eating!