In living an abundant human experience, we are able to nourish our minds, souls and bodies to the fullest extent possible. Yet recently, and especially within the wellness space, we have exploited the notion of balance. I am one to believe that perfect balance is never fully achievable because we are humans. We’ve looked to conflicting diets, programs, remedies and trends that tell you to eat this, do that and avoid “blank” at all costs. It can leave us obsessive, anxious, frustrated, or shameful. We forget the power of food as medicine and turn it into a way to look our best.
After years of trying various different diet plans out there, including being vegan for 2 years, healthy or “clean” eating to me looks like enjoying beautiful, wholesome foods that you actually look forward to and completely S A V O R. It’s developing a strong and healthy intuition-based relationship with food. It’s being able to listen to your body and eat what you know your body wants. When we eat from a place of love - a love for the food itself and the experience of eating or sharing a meal - we are so much more able to give our body exactly what it needs.
The idea of having “balance” can be overused and lose its potency. It’s a beautiful notion but if we obsess over the idea of maintaining a perfect balance in everything we do we set ourselves up to fail. We’re never going to obtain balance, but if we can decide to show up as we are then we’re able to rise and meet our highest self. Balance is eating a leafy, veggie-rich salad because your body hasn’t had greens in a while; it’s also enjoying a decadent cup of hot cocoa while snuggled up on the couch with your family. Finding balance and tapping into your intuition is never fear-based or controlling, it’s listening inward and following mindful food choices that lead to a strong sense of what works for YOUR body and eventually leads to your everyday reality.
Clean eating and maintaining balance comes from following your intuition and cultivating a healthy relationship with food. You have to determine what works for YOU and you alone. Each meal is a gift and energy you have the opportunity to create. Give yourself forgiveness and release any guilt you have around food. Choose to rediscover your body through food.
Here are seven tips for eating clean and attaining YOUR unique balance. My rule of thumb? Superfoods in every meal!
Keep a food journal. Start with three days and write down everything you eat and how you felt after. After three days, notice if any patterns or observations that come up. Every food has a different energy and responds to your unique body in a different way.
Each meal is an opportunity to start fresh. Say, for example, there’s a night where you had bowl after bowl of ice cream and you end up feeling a wash of shame over it (as we so often do when it comes to what we eat). Instead, tell yourself that you can start the day fresh tomorrow with a nutrient-dense brekkie. We can always begin again. A bump along the way is just that — a bump — not a detour.
Practice gratitude. While you’re preparing your food and/or during a meal find gratitude in the practice of fueling your body with the bounty given us here on the planet. Listen to soulful music that brings you happiness and makes you want to dance as you pour love into your meal.
Similarly, try to prepare your own food as often as you can! You’re so much more intentional in what you eat when you make a dish yourself and know what ingredients are going directly into your body. This will also give you the opportunity to make more health-conscious substitutions. For example, if you’re gluten-free and the recipe calls for flour you can sub a wheat-free, nutrient-dense flour.
Allow yourself a treat every once in a while! It’s a source of pleasure and a way to let go. There are 365 days in a year, and if we commit to fueling and nourishing our body then there are definitely times here and there when we can enjoy the birthday cake, cookies, fries, etc. that feel GOOD at that moment.
Create a clean food kitchen. Toss out anything processed, anything with high fructose corn syrup, anything with gluten, and anything that you question whether it's healthy or not. Don't be afraid to let it go, I promise you you can always find it again at the store if you MUST have it.
Don’t worry so much about calories (that's so 1990’s!) but instead about nutrients. If you eat nutrient-dense foods, you will be full and satiated for longer. The rule of thumb when you're eating is to think about NUTRIENTS, not just energy/calories. Ask yourself what NUTRIENTS are in your meal, not just putting empty calories into your body. For example, when reaching for a snack, don't eat 5 rice crackers because they are low in calories, eat an apple and a handful of almonds because then you're getting vitamins, fiber, protein and good fats (and you'll stay fuller longer!).
Here are some of my favorite superfood recipes I’m loving that help me eat cleaner and achieve my personal balance: