You know those website ads that show a banana at different stages, or a series of cartoon bellies that get progressively slimmer? They say things like, “Lose weight now by following this one simple rule.” I’ve never clicked those ads because I’m afraid of the spam that would follow, but the message can be applied here. Clean living can be boiled down to one simple rule: know your product. That’s it. Simply know what you are putting in and on your body.
Clean living isn’t about being on an extreme, restricted diet with measuring, weighing, and counting. Nor is it living like a caveman. It’s simply choosing to be intentional about what your body comes in contact with. For example, when I go to buy apples, I buy organic because my body is not meant to handle pesticides. When it comes to shampoo, I buy organic or make my own because my hair will not thrive on parabens, lathering agents, or artificial fragrances. I make my own toothpaste because my teeth don’t need added fluorides or artificial colors to be clean and healthy. I buy non GMO cereal, breads, and chips (yes, I eat chips!) because if bugs don’t want the grains I’m about to eat, then I don’t want them either. I don’t use a microwave, and I try to eat at home whenever possible so I know exactly what’s on my plate.
All it takes is a bit of research to understand what your body needs in order to shine.
When my husband and I first started living clean, which wasn’t too long ago, we used the addition method. We didn’t cut or throw out anything. When we ran out of something we simply replaced it with an upgraded, nutritious option. Cutting things out of your diet completely puts you in the mindset of being deprived and sets you up for failure; but adding is so simple! We started by adding green juice to our morning and afternoon routine. Then we replaced our chips and salsa with the organic kind. We started buying organic whole milk (raw when we could find it), and got our eggs from a friend who raises chickens. Little by little, our pantry and cabinets became filled with nutritious, natural foods and products that we loved and felt good about.
I hate that saying, “If it tastes good, spit it out!” Honestly, who can live like that? I believe we have taste buds and preferences for a reason, and they should be celebrated, not ignored!
If you are starting out on your clean living journey, find things you want to eat! If you hate brussel sprouts, don’t buy them! If you love spaghetti, have it! There are organic, quinoa, squash, and even raw options. You can make just about any recipe “clean,” so no need to turn your culinary world upside down. I love my sweets and I was a splenda-holic! I used to say, “I’m going to die of some sort of cancer anyway, so it might as well be from splenda.” Wow, what a reality check when I truly realized that was a great possibility! Now I don’t deprive myself of my sweet treats, I just replace splenda with raw honey, maple syrup, and organic raw sugar (And ladies, guess what?! I haven’t gained an ounce! What a lie we have been believing for so long!) The goal is to make a lifestyle change, not an extreme diet sprint.
I remember going on crazy diets and odd fads in search of health and beauty, but of course none of them stuck because they weren’t practical. I know me; I cannot live the rest of my life and never eat another piece of cake. It’s just not something I want to do. However, I can totally make that cake from scratch using organic ingredients. My husband loves juice. Loves it. Like, more than a kindergartener, so it’s not practical for him to never have it again. But he can buy organic, or even better he can make it at home and throw some greens in for not only a yummy drink, but a healthful one. The fact is, we’re human and sometimes we just want what we want when we want it. There is something to be said for self-control, but you’re going to be miserable if you’re in self-constant denial.
I want to encourage you, and let you know that making this transition has been so easy and fun! I love finding new ways to incorporate healthful herbs, fruits, and veggies into my diet. Last night my mom showed me how to make stewed plums and oh my goodness, i couldn’t get enough! It’s like an adventure for me, discovering new recipes for beauty and health! The taste of food is something to be treasured and adored. It brings people together and marks great cultures and traditions. Living clean doesn’t mean abandoning foods, but rather embracing them in their fullest, most nutritious state.
I do want to leave you with one more thing, and that’s the importance of encouragement. Doing this alone can be hard. If your spouse or kids are constantly bringing home fast food and TV dinners, it’s going to be hard to stay on that clean track. It’s essential that the people you do life with take the clean living step with you. I recommend watching the documentary Hungry for Change together. I was nervous at first that my husband, the pizza and gummy bears lover that he is, would be resistant to the change. But after watching the documentary together he was completely on board because he said it made sense. Now he loves making organic, homemade pizza and I’ve even found a clean, probiotic gummy bear recipe! This has by far been the easiest, most enjoyable life change we’ve made, and I’m excited to one day pass it on to our children. The difference we feel in our bodies and see in our lives is testimony to the validity of clean living. There are toxins in the very air we breath, so it’s only logical that we give our bodies a break when it comes to food and cosmetics. The deeper I dive into clean living, the more I am able to look at other areas of my life—relational, financial, and spiritual—and see how I can help them become healthier.
My relationship with food has done a complete 180. Before, I felt that food was the enemy and I had to fight it at every turn just to keep the scale happy (which, let’s be honest, rarely happened). Now I approach food with a completely different mind set. I chose my food based on how I want my body to feel and perform. David Avocado Wolfe talks about choosing “beauty foods,” foods that nourish your hair, skin, and nails. Foods that support digestion and muscle tone. Foods that bring life.
I hope you will join me and the countless others who are making the clean living change. It’s just knowing your product, knowing your body, and believing you are worth it. Because you totally are.