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Clean Eating Challenge: How Hard Is It, Really?

How closely do you read your food labels? Credit: USDAgov, Flickr

This week I’m participating in a clean eating challenge—the 10 Days of Real Food Pledge, to be exact. I stocked up on lots and lots of real food over the weekend and began on Monday. And so far, so good.

For the most part, I was able to focus on loading up on a lot of the same things I already eat, just, you know, more of the good stuff. The things I eat that aren’t allowed for the duration of this pledge are mostly the snacky items—chips, crackers, flavored Greek yogurts, candy—that I mainly eat because they’re convenient, so, really, sticking to the pledge is really a matter of planning ahead a little better so I can have something more wholesome at a moment’s notice.

What’s that mean? For me, it’s having fruits and veggies cut up and ready to go the moment I stick my hungry face in the fridge. It also includes more meal planning than I normally do—if I have an after-work workout, I need to have something quick and filling available or I’m likely to default to picking something up on the way home.

Probably the most challenging aspect of this is the fact that the TMJ I was dealing with at the beginning of the year never went away completely, and, in fact, has flared up quite a bit in recent weeks, so between that and not eating meat, a number of items allowed in this pledge (nuts, lean meats, etc.) are a no-go for me.

So, why’d I opt in? Partly because a couple of local friends were doing it, and I wanted to support them. But also, I like the idea of checking in on my eating habits now and again. It’s easy to say that I eat pretty clean, but when I have specific rules to follow, I pay much closer attention to the labels and make a far bigger effort. Cutting out all the processed food is a much bigger step than cutting out most. Know what I mean? Give it a try; you’ll see.

And we’ll see if I’m still thinking this isn’t such a big deal by the time my 10 days are up.

Have you ever taken a similar pledge or done any sort of healthy eating challenge? What motivated you to do it? Did you learn anything about your eating habits? And did it change the way you ate once it was over? —Kristen

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  1. Courtney says:

    My husband learned he was intolerant to gluten and dairy a few years ago. Since I didn’t want to make separate things for everyone, we all ate like that. Those small changes inspired bigger changes (cutting sugar, etc.) and after the initial shock it was the easiest health modification we’ve made. Because we have to, I guess. But the whole family is better for it!

  2. This is awesome! I am just finishing up my first whole 30 challenge which was a complete lifestyle change for me. As a college kid, it’s hard to eat clean– especially snacking clean. I had never read labels before, and now I don’t think I’ll ever stop. My rule of thumb became- if I can’t pronounce it, I shouldn’t be eating it.
    I did the challenge with about 40 other girls, and it was a great way to keep me motivated and honest throughout the challenge. I learned so much about my eating habits (like mindless snacking) and also learned to cook! If you ever find a low point during your 10 day pledge, you should check out our blogs on our website, http://www.chaarg.com and get motivated with recipe ideas, etc! That’s what helped me the most!

  3. I have read Lisa’s rules and I think this is great. I do have an advantage in that for several generations our family has focused on eating real food – unrefined etc. – it has been a bit of a challenge with our children, but education is the key.

    We did a bit of an experiment as part of this education. We got a slice of some white bread and a slice of wholemeal home baked bread. Moistened both and put them on the sunny window sill, making sure they kept moist. Well in a day or two the white bread was covered with a few small green circles of fungi, but in contrast the wholemeal bread was covered in a rich growth of fungi.

    OK the children thought the wholemeal looked gross, but when explained to them that nothing much grew on the white bread because a lot of the goodness had been “refined out” the message sunk in.


  4. Dear Kristen,

    Nice post.
    Such challenges are simply tough but the only driving force is motivation and support from family and peers..I often motivate my friends and clients (aiming for weight loss) that “Clean eating” will not only act as a cleaning diet but also give you freshness from within.

    The only caution required is that friends and office colleagues should not force to bypass or abandon it even once.

  5. Thanks for the post.
    If a challenge seems difficult or might even seem impossible, it’s all in the mind.

    If it is easy then it would not be a challenge at all. Deciding to make small changes and having the mind set to “just do it” will give you push you need.
    Forming good habits while doing the challenge will make things fun and easier.

  6. FitAli says:

    A few months ago i have joined an accountability group for clean eating and working out, it worked really well for me. I stick to it until now, feel great, my weight is going down slowly, i love it!

  7. Jacqui says:

    I have taken several food or clean eating challenges over the years and (weak-willed person that I am) they have almost always back-fired on me. When I cut out too many foods I tend to crave and binge. A mostly healthy diet with some (daily) planned treats has worked best for me 🙂

  8. Rachel says:

    I always try to stick to clean eating but I usually end up cheating! If you come up with any tips along the way I would love to hear them!

  9. This is great Post! if a challenge seems difficult or might even seem impossible, it is all in the mind.

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