Overcoming the overwhelm of clean eating (And man, I’ve been there)August 26, 2013
Tell me if this sounds about right:
You start spending more on organics. You learn to love brown rice. You even swap your soda for green smoothies! Basically, you do everything you can to make healthy choices, yet every time you turn around you’re learning that hey, that extra virgin olive oil is full of GMOs! Or, hey, your water is full of lead! Your tea is full of pesticides!
That is perhaps when you throw your hands in the air and utter some kind of noise that sounds like, “URRaguuuughh” and decide to order a pizza because who cares.
It can be really overwhelming. I know. I feel it too. But put down the phone and hear me out. (I mean, if you really want pizza, order it.) Let me show you how to deal with the sometimes overwhelming task of making healthy choices.
I know you can do it!
Shoot for improvement, not perfection.
I used to go to the grocery store and spend hours reading labels. And that’s normal – there’s a lot to read and a lot to learn! But what I don’t recommend is spending several hours of your life at Whole Foods waffling between the organic, homogenized natural peanut butter for $6.99 and the organic, freshly ground peanut butter for $5.99. That’s a sure route to overwhelm and shutdown mode.
Either is a way better choice than Skippy, and you can always try the other kind next time. As you spend more time learning about food, you’ll make better and better decisions.
One day, maybe you will grow your own peanuts in perfect soil, water them with purified water, shell and grind them yourself. That day doesn’t have to be today. Or like, ever.
Worry about what you eat every day, not what you eat once in awhile.
The other day my 2 year old son grabbed a nectarine off the display and proceeded to eat the whole thing before my husband noticed. My first question: Was it organic? (Gasp!)
Really, it doesn’t matter. Chill out mom. And it doesn’t matter if my kid shoves his face full of Pirate’s Booty at every party we go to, or if his dad lets him have a lollipop after a haircut. It makes me shudder, yes, but once again: Chill out mom. What matters is what I feed him for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of his life, how I teach him to cook, and the example I set as his role model.
Buy fewer packaged, prepared foods
It’s not really worth squabbling over which boxed mac-n-cheese is healthier. If a meal comes in a box, it’s not a terribly healthy decision to begin with. So if you just avoid ‘em altogether, that makes your life simpler and healthier.
Being wrong is ok
I always thought brown rice was the most neutral food on the planet. When in doubt, eat brown rice. Right? Gluten-free, inexpensive, plant-based, rarely if ever allergenic…what could be safer? I ate it often and recommended it to clients.
Then last year I learned that arsenic was found in rice and rice products across the United States. It was one of those overwhelming moments. “URRaguuuughh!!!”
In response, I lessened my consumption and recommendations of rice. I also threw out my rice cooker, looked for rice grown outside the southern US and started promoting a “boil” method of cooking rice to reduce arsenic by approximately 50%.
Live and learn. It’s ok to be wrong. What’s not ok is holding on to the way you’ve always done things and not listening to new information.
It’s not just about food
If only a clean diet were the answer! That would be too easy. So listen – even if it’s too overwhelming to buy and cook fresh food or spring for pure olive oil, you can reduce your toxic load (and often save money!) by changing your personal care products. You can avoid plastics whenever possible. You can exercise and reduce stress through lifestyle changes. (Did you know stress forms harmful toxins in your body too?) And you can spend more time out in nature.
Hey, that sounds pretty good! Like, the opposite of overwhelm.
Our bodies are built to deal with toxins
The fact that we have built-in detoxifying mechanisms says a lot to me. It means that since the beginning of time, human bodies have been cleaning out and dealing with…something. And we are meant to! That’s a relief, huh? So it’s not the end of the world if you accidentally ate a bite of something with high fructose corn syrup yesterday. Really.
The big difference between today and thousands of years ago is simply how very many toxins our bodies hold. Our organs of detoxification – think skin, lungs, liver, kidneys, colon – are overwhelmed. So while you don’t need to be perfect (nor could you be) it does help to reduce your toxic load and let your body do its job.
Feel what works
Don’t eat clean because I said so. Do it because of how it makes you feel. More energy? Clear thinking? Less stressed? I’m telling you, it doesn’t take long to go from “OMG I could never” to “OMG I could never go back.” Tweet this!