Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Does Clean Eating Mean?

What is clean eating? What does it mean to you?

I get this question so frequently, most often when I hash tag a picture on Instagram @ellenoelfitness #eatclean and someone will ask, "Is that really clean? It has blah blah in it" or "What do you mean when you say clean eating?".

Womp Womp.

Clean eating means something different to every single diet conscience person you ask that question. Eat Clean/ Clean Eating is definitely the buzz word or phrase of the moment and there are variations of clean eating, just like there are variations of cleaning your house, that means something different to each and every one of us. Some of us are clean freaks mopping daily, military style precision in making the bed, closet organized by color and season, dusting the ceiling fans daily, etc. (Paleo) Some people may only do floors once or twice a week, and be OK with a little extra dust on the fan, and not worry about laundry but once a week as well. Then there are those who do the rush job before having guests over- like crash dieting before an event- so that everything looks nice and neat on the outside but there's peanut butter M&M's hiding under the bed.

I try to "eat clean" each and every day. When I say eat clean, I mean that I try to consume minimally processed foods, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. I eat six small meals a day, this way I'm never hungry.  I DO eat foods that have been processed. I DO eat frozen foods. While I want to follow a clean diet, I have to be economical about my eating habits and time constraints  I have time to grocery shop once a week. In addition to writing this blog, I work a full time job, work out 10-12 hours per week, my husband would like my attention a few hours a day, and have an active social life. I need for meal prep to be snappy. I also have to make time to keep my house clean and laundry done blah blah mundane stuff we all have to deal with. I do not have time to visit the grocery store three times a week, and nothing irks me more than watching food go bad in the refrigerator aka rotting money.

I buy lots of frozen foods, ie frozen vegetables and fruits. I've discovered this is the easiest and least time consuming way for me to do food prep. I use frozen fruit for smoothies, breakfast, and snacks with my peanut butter powder. Presently, my favorite frozen/pre-chopped fruit comes from Sam's Wholesale. I've been purchasing an 11 pound bag of chopped peaches, strawberries, and pineapple that lasts me a little more than two weeks. For awhile I was making smoothies from scratch, buying and chopping fruit twice a week and it was taxing. I had little "me" time. Then I discovered pre-chopped frozen fruit and I never looked back. It has ZERO added sugar. It is simply frozen fruit. Dole just did the work for me.

Another favorite product is Danoon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt. YES it is processed, but I still consider this a clean food.

I also consume lots of frozen vegetables as I'm the only one eating vegstables daily at my house. I prefer frozen broccoli and frozen California blends. I do eat fresh carrots, cucumbers, squash and cauliflower.Great super foods I add in to my diet are spinach, almonds, natural peanut butter, and peanut butter powder. Foods I avoid- Gluten, Starches, 100 calories cookie packets, limit diet sodas (I allow myself two per day MAX), all lean cousins and smart ones. They are the devil. Seriously, stop eating dat. I wish I had accepted that fact 30 pounds ago. I would've gotten where I am so much faster. Recently, I've been cutting out my protein bar intake as well and making my own energy bites. I did this for a few reasons, mainly because I truly believe the best protein bars are the ones we make ourselves. I was hesitant to go in this direction because I thought it would be expensive and time consuming but it is anything but. I am still eating Think Thin products about twice a week but I had to cut out my daily intake.

Long story short- YOU determine what clean eating means to you. Eat often, drink lots of water and avoid processed food. Do the best with what you have and learn as you go. We are so very different and one method may not work as well for the next.

In other news, my mufasa hair made it's triumphant return this morning, all of my work pants are now to big. This is so crazy to me. I worked so hard to get back into all these cloths and now it's time to say bye bye. Can we go thrift shopping? What What What What In my next life I'm going to be a super famous rapper. Just watch.

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Daily Motivator


  1. I loved this post! Or course clean eating means something different to everyone, and it's almost unrealistic for most of us to be Paleo-clean. While I agree with the principles, I would not be happy giving up ALL processed foods, ALL the time. And like you, I am a busy bee so I need to choose foods that can be made quick and easy! Great explanation!

    AND - all your pants are too big?! That is so exciting and a true measurement of all your hard work! Way to go girl, you are the inspiration masta :)

  2. I'm obsessed with the thrift shop song! I even made a Pandora station based on it for my running (but the station just plays jokey rap songs...eh not what I was going for). Also, I think your definition of clean is identical to mine! Full-on clean eating is expensive, yo! I'm trying to picture an 11-pound bag of frozen fruit and I don't think I've got it right. I'm assuming you'd need a pallet to carry it! Obviously, I need one. :)

    Hope you're having a good week and I hope you get a chance to go get you some pantzzz!!

  3. This mama is all about buying frozen when possible. Life is too unpredictable to have lots of fresh stuff that will go bad SO QUICKLY. Plus, I am pretty sure they flash freeze them so they are fine. They are still rich in color unlike a lot of canned things.

    Congrats on the baggy britches!

  4. Great post Elle! I love the idea of your own protein bites, I'm a little weary of the protein bars and try to only have them before a long run. Have you tried twice.com for clothes? They are like a nicer version of a thrift store and nice if you think you may outgrow your new size of dress pants :) You're doing such an awesome job and I totally admire you for no carbs or cheese during Lent. Keep it up!

  5. Great Post! I like your motto. And honestly, even if you only eat "clean" 75% of the time it's BETTER than 100% processed junk. We do a great job of buying good clean foods when we go to the grocery. I also spend less and buy better foods if I bring my husband with me. He doesn't give in to my chocolate cravings.

  6. YES! I LOVE THIS! So many people have been asking me the same thing! I will now refer them to this post haha!!!! You rock girlfriend! Happy Tuesday gorgeous!

  7. Love this. but why are lean cuisines the devil? I need to lose 10 more pounds lol

  8. I love this post!! So true.. Even in the comments I dont think people get it.. clean foods are what you deem clean... so lean cuisines are fine for me but thats different for you. Much different when you still have 60 pounds to go! Great post!

  9. I've had the same question from people before too! I have the same definition as you. Trying to eat mainly natural foods - meats, nuts, fruits and veggies and trying not to eat things that are processed. Keep up the awesome work!

  10. I try my best to eat clean as well. When I start back in school and going to work, my level of clean eating will be going down because there just isn't enough time in the day to devote to that. Frozen fruits and veggies are definitely "clean" in my book. I hate to throw out food, especially produce since it's so expensive, so most of ours is frozen.

    Cutting out any processed food is better than eating all processed foods, so I think we're all on the right track :)


  11. This is SO true:

    "Then there are those who do the rush job before having guests over- like crash dieting before an event- so that everything looks nice and neat on the outside but there's peanut butter M&M's hiding under the bed."

    And it really makes you think - wow that crap I ate really does stay around a lot longer than I would like! Thanks for posting this, and keep the great pics of your meals coming on Instagram!

  12. I am a huge fan of your blog, I stalk it daily!!! I find you very inspiring! I am commenting to suggest a Clothing Swap Party! (If you have done one already, just ignore this comment :) When I lost my first 20 pounds, I refused to buy transition pieces, so I ended up throwing a Clothing Swap party with my friends and I got a lot of really great stuff!


    PS I make those energy bites as well, I LOVE them.

  13. Loved this post! So informative and reassuring. Thank you!

  14. Ha ha she's poping tags... Lol great post as always. I thought clean eating was no dairy but according to your little pic I eat clean most if the time well minus the jelly bellies that made it into my tummy. Lol.

  15. I kind of beat myself up because I still eat "un clean" bread products and coffee creamer. But the truth is I have cut out so many processed foods. I used to live off frozen meals and fast food. No more! And I should be proud of that not get down on myself.

  16. Once again you are spot on with your post!

    I am the queen of thrift stores. There are great finds out there for sure!

  17. I can't tell you just how much I love this post! I have wanted to do 'clean eating' for so long. I didn't know much about it and what I did meant that I had to go all organic and vegan and I was not about to do that! Also, I broke down and tried your 'mashed' potatoes (never liked cauliflower) and I love them! They will definitely be on the menu in our house from now on!

  18. for your energy bites...
    Do you use sugar free choc chips, reduced fat PB, sugar-free honey?
    Basically, do you try to use "diet-esque, healthier" (terms used very loosely!) in the recipe.
    Every time you post a pic of them on IG they look so good.
    Just didn't know if you altered/doctored the recipe to make them even less cals/sugar/fat...

  19. I try to follow most of those same rules. Although I don't drink any soda at all, I have been known to eat a Lean Cuisine every now and then ... (Confession: twice this week!) But I know, I know they are crap. Sometimes I just gotta! ;)

  20. I've been reading your blog for the past few weeks thanks to Holly. I goggled "What does eating clean mean?" and this blog was one of the first that came up. I've been on WW for almost 4 weeks now. I lost 7 pounds in the first two weeks, but have since gained 3 even though I'm following everything to the T. Talk about frustrating! I'm going to give clean eating a shot. Thanks for a better definition than I could find anywhere else.