I am a stupid American.
So before everyone gets all “offended” let’s be real and call a french fry a french fry. We are a country full of fat, getting stupider people. <—-That last sentence proves it. I am constantly reminded of Idiocracy (great movie, if you haven’t seen it) and the prophetic words, “Would you like a big ass taco?” And that is what we are all getting – big ass taco butt.
Well, at least I have. I like to blame my ex-husband (I’m still in that jaded-blame-him-for-everything-post-divorce-bitchy phase) for my bad eating habits – after all, when we got married the only real vegetable he would eat were green beans….out of a can! But no one forced a gun to my head and made me eat french fries or tacos, or burgers, no matter how much I want to blame “being a good wife who wanted to please her husband by cooking foods he liked” BS I told myself for years.
It wasn’t always this way and I wasn’t raised this way. (This is where the “Stupid Americans” part comes in.) My father’s Greek – like from the mother land – and though that was full of it’s own challenges – Yes, Daddy, all the 16 year old girls parents are letting their daughters go to the dance – it was also full of a great blessing. That blessing was Clean Eating. Now, I didn’t know it at the time, because most of the rest of the world just calls it Normal Eating, but my father insisted that we have the freshest food possible in the house. “No preservatives. No caffeine. No artificial color.” These were hard and fast rules in my house growing up. I used to look at my friends at lunch and wish my mom would pack me a Twinkie, Ding-Dong, or Capri-Sun (they had just come out when I was about 10). No such luck. I didn’t even have a bag of chips to trade with. Just a sandwich on whole wheat bread, piece of fruit and as a treat some homemade zucchini cookies. No one in 4th grade wants to trade anything for zucchini cookies (even if they are moist and delicious and totally yummy). Dad went to the store almost every night on his way home from work to pick up fresh fruits and veggies for the next day. Meat was always purchased the day it was going to be prepared and we ate meatless meals probably 2-3 nights a week (though I never noticed).
Clean Eating seems to be something most of the rest of the world embraces (God knows my Daddy did). Fresh fruits, fresh veggies, fresh meats. Grow what you can so you don’t have to buy it. We (meaning Americans) seem to have adopted a different philosophy. Fast, convenient, pre-packaged, or drive-thru food is what we are all about. Why buy an apple for 40¢ when you can buy the same apple sliced up, dipped in a preservative and packaged in a little plastic baggie for $1.89? I’m mean – buy a whole apple and have to cut it up myself? That. Is. Insane. At least it appears that we have that collective mentality – especially considering how much we spend each month or packaged, processed or fast foods. Sheesh.
So, being the Stupid American I am and having a then-husband (for almost 13 years) who wouldn’t eat much of anything healthy, and being a foodie who loves to cook, I gained almost 60 pounds. YIKES! (Did she say 60 pounds?) I said 60 pounds. It was awful. What’s worse, is that I didn’t see Fat Me in the mirror, I saw Normal Me in the mirror. I used to bitch and whine, “I don’t know why I can’t loose weight. I don’t eat that much.” Boy was I fooling myself. I started having horrible abdominal pain. Vomiting. Long intimate visits with my commode. It was torture. I went to the doc. My gallbladder was full of sludge. Saturated fats of any kind triggered horrible attacks of pain and agony that would last for hours and hours on end. Food was no longer my friend (and least not the fatty stuff). So, I started reading labels, pulled red meat completely out of my diet and ate nothing that wasn’t low in cholesterol and low in saturated fats (they kinda go hand-in-hand, ya’ know?). More veggies. More fruit. Fish. Shrimp. Chicken. My diet changed. Then I changed. Over the course of a year I lost 45 pounds without even trying! No really. I still ate what I wanted and as much as I wanted, as long as it wasn’t beef or high in saturated fats. I still had a soda when I wanted one (guilty pleasure). I still had an order of fries when I wanted one. Funny thing is, I really didn’t want them as much anymore. Then, I met my man – Ron. He has food issues. He loves everything – and eats lots of it. I mean, really. Tons. I started back down the slippery slope and put back on 15 pounds. I had stopped Clean Eating.
What is Clean Eating?
Clean Eating is simply eating whole foods and minimizing or eliminating processed and refined foods. Yes, you can eat meat – just lean meat. Yes, you can have fats – just unsaturated fats like olive oil. Of course you can have all the fruits and veggies you want. Yes, you can eat dairy – just keep the processing to a minimum. You are already Eating Clean when you have a cook-out with grilled chicken, corn-on-the-cob, sliced watermelon and homemade coleslaw. It’s not as hard as you may think.
If you are thinking of adopting Clean Eating, do it slowly. Start removing the processed foods and replacing them with whole foods. Maybe this week you ditch sodas for iced-tea. Next week you swap your white bread for wheat bread. Here’s an idea that will really make a difference. Have meatless dinners three times a week. I know, I know. You can already hear someone ask, “Where’s the rest of dinner?” But really, it’s not as hard as you think. Toss pasta with pesto (I have the best pesto recipe) and serve with a big salad and you have Meatless Dinner Favorite #1.
Don’t get all hung up on how many times you should eat a day or how much of anything you should eat at day. Just make selections that are as whole as possible. If you can’t read the food label out loud (because you can’t pronounce the ingredient list) then DON’T EAT IT! The easiest thing to remember is to follow the Rule of The Three P’s. No Packaging, No Preservatives, No Poly or Saturated Fats (or as little as possible).
So fellow American, let’s stop being stupid and start Clean Eating. I am. And not only do I hope to be healthier – but I’m hoping those extra pounds will come off again. 😉
What is your reason for wanting to Eat Clean and how do you get your family (if you have one) to Eat Clean too? (My youngest son has his Father’s exceptional taste for all things fried, so I could use all the tips on getting that little booger to eat better!)
Clean Eating Resources
Here are a few books and blogs to help you get started on your clean eating journey. You can also search for more Clean Eating Books.
(just click on the image above to learn more about those great books!)
Update: I found some great recipes from Clean Eating Magazine where they “make-over” some classic comfort foods. This is a great way to start going Clean without your or your family feeling like you are missing out on your favorites.