Eat Clean Challenge

Starting tomorrow, I am challenging myself to eat clean for at least a week. What does “eating clean” mean to me? I am going to eliminate refined foods (anything in a box), meat, dairy, refined sugar, bread and bread products, alcohol, and caffeine from my diet. This is obviously not a life-long plan, rather a sort of cleanse and an attempt to figure out what fuel makes my body feel the best.

The truth is, although I eat pretty well (I’d say 85% whole, healthy foods), I don’t feel great all the time. I get frequent headaches, am constantly tired regardless of the amount of sleep I get, I have trouble concentrating and have digestive issues all the time. I have a feeling that this is mainly due to the food I’m eating.
The idea for the challenge came up after I let my diet slip last weekend. It wasn’t a huge deal, I just drank three cans of soda and several beers in the course of three days. I almost never drink soda because it makes my tummy hurt (anything carbonated does; seltzer is the worst, followed by soda and then beer if I drink it in excess), but we got a 6 pack of cans of soda, so I had one each day. For the rest of the week, my stomach hurt, and I’m not even sure if it’s back to normal now. It occurred to me that if I could mess up my stomach for a week in three days of moderate indulgence, eating really well for a week would probably make me feel amazing. I then identified the things that I feel have a negative impact on my mind and body and decided to do without them for some time. Also, as I add things back into my diet, it will be easy to see if they make me feel bad in any way. This is exactly how my love affair with dairy ended: I had a very brief stint as a vegan during my vegetarian days, and when I decided it wasn’t for me and began consuming dairy again, I realized that it really made me sick. Although I don’t consume dairy in obvious forms (milk, ice cream, even yogurt doesn’t work for me), it still slips in in the form of cheese and other such things. I’m not sure if these are adding to my overall malaise, but I will certainly find out after my challenge ends.

How will I accomplish this diet without going crazy? Careful planning. I have mapped out every meal for the next week so that I don’t find myself scrambling to put something together, and so that I am sure I’m getting a wide variety of nutrients. I do this each week anyway as I make my grocery list, so it wasn’t a hassle. I started by listing the things I could eat and brainstorming meals, and then making a definite plan. Tomorrow I will share my meal plan for the week.

I’m curious about several things:
What will my grocery bill look like? I’m going tonight, and I’m wondering if it will be more or less expensive.
Will my headaches go away?
Will my digestion issues go away?
Will my energy levels go up and tiredness decrease?
Will I feel better overall?

Stay tuned this week for updates on my challenge, including how I’m feeling and meal ideas!

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