Monday, June 13, 2011

Clean Eating Challenge: Step 4 -- The Right Amount

I've got to admit that this week was a terrible one for me as far as my eating goes.  Admitting that is not fun especially considering that I'm trying to help YOU eat better.  All I can say is that I'm really doing this more for myself than anyone else.  It's hard to eat clean when there are so many great tasting and convenient foods out there.  On the other hand, what is the goal here?  Mine is better overall health and knowing that I'm not putting foreign chemicals and other man made yuckies into my own body and the bodies of my precious family.  There's enough research out there to convince me that it does absolutely no good to eat that crap.  It only leads to more long-term diseases and other crap. 

That said, my whole family has been and actually still is sick.  We've had terrible colds, congestion, pink eye and who knows what else.  My weekly trip to the grocery store never had a chance so we've been feasting on whatever was already in the house and convenient due to lack of energy.  It just doesn't seem fair to be sick at the beginning of summer.  Colds in the summer?  It's preposterous!    

But this is a new week which means I get to try again and do everything I can to get back on track.  The grocery store is calling my name and I can't wait to get myself some yummy food with actual nutritional value.  I think it will help us all recover quicker also.  

So this week, we're going to focus on the amount of food you are taking in.  If you've read my blog long, you know that I've already said that when you're eating clean, you don't need to count calories.  And now here I am telling you to watch the amount of food you eat.  

Just know that from here on out, I may sound like a walking contradiction due to the fact that eating clean really is a personal thing and it all depends on what your goals are and how far you want to run with it.  

We know that calorie intake really plays a huge factor in our weight.  Eating clean really is more about better health and eating whole foods.  However, often times, with that comes weight loss.  But that really depends on whether you have weight to lose and it is still possible to gain weight while eating clean if you're not careful.  

Maybe you're thinking, why the heck would you say that I don't need to count calories then?  Well, here's the deal:

When we eat only 3 or 4 meals a day (which many people do), we are so hungry by the time that we eat that we over indulge.  So, what you need to do is eat 5 or 6 times per day.  Sound like too much?  It's not.  This tells your metabolism to speed up because it's going to be getting more fuel within the next few hours.  Your body now knows that it doesn't need to hold on to the food from the last meal because it will be fed again shortly.  

Does that make any sense?  I hope so.  

Well, now that you are eating breakfast (you are eating breakfast, right?), and making sure it's a good one (you're not eating Trix or something equally nasty are you?) we just need to make sure you eat a snack between breakfast and lunch.  Here's your new eating plan, unless of course you're doing this already.  In that case it's not new...

  • Breakfast - shortly after waking up
  • snack
  • Lunch
  • snack
  • Dinner 
  • Snack (if hungry and not too soon before bed)

Sound good?  Alright, let's chat.  Your meals, including your snacks, should be 2-3 hours apart.  Make sure you are drinking your water between meals and with your meals.  At the 2-3 hour mark you should be hungry again.  Not starving, just hungry.  Make sure you eat until satisfied, not full.  If you get full, you've eaten too much. 

This may take a few days to get used to the feeling of being just satisfied but be patient.  You'll start to recognize when you've eaten too much or not enough. 

In general, your breakfasts, lunches and dinners should be around 300-400 calories.  Your snacks should be around 200 calories.  But like I said, everyone is different and you don't have to count.  That's just a general idea if you want to count calories just to see how much you are eating each day.  To be honest, I started out not counting the calories but decided to count for a few days just for informational purposes. 

I figured out that I was eating around 1800 calories per day which made sense for me.  That was the perfect amount for me to maintain my weight at that time.  I also incorporated some pretty vigorous (vigorous to me anyway) exercise too which helped me to actually lose a few pounds at the 1800 calories a day.  I would recommend not dipping below 1500 calories even if you are trying to lose weight but that's just me.  You have to do what's right for you. 

Make sure you're not eating too soon before bed also.  I recommend eating your last meal at least 2 hours before going to bed. 

Don't be freaked out that we're not changing the content of the meals we haven't discussed yet.  We've already discussed breakfast and snacks.... keep 'em clean!  Now just make sure you're eating enough for what your goals are and only eating until satisfied.  I think we, as Americans, think that a portion is as big as Rhode Island.  Think smaller, people! 

In case you missed it...

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 3 update


LeShel said...

funny that this would be this weeks challenge because this morning I was thinking, i need to be more specific about when i eat my snacks and how many i eat each day. hmmm....

last week was good and bad. i found myself at times VERY strong and other times just wanting to quit. When i was week i picked dried fruit to over indulge on. it worked but my dried fruit i know has sugar in it. i can't find any without, at this point. i think i'm going to invest in a food dehydrator.

this week is Matthias' birthday and i'll be partaking of cake and ice cream but only once.

Thanks for your help with this.

sorry you're family has been sick. i agree colds at the start of summer should be against the rules! About not clean eating, while i'm sure you will recover quicker when you're intake is better for you, you have to consider that you're making changes and this is a life long change. there will be times when it just doesn't happen.

Brooke said...

I couldn't agree more. Changing my eating habits has been really hard but I can definitely tell a huge difference when I'm eating well vs. when I'm eating crap!

And eating cake and ice cream once during a week is perfectly fine. You've got to have cheat days or cheat meals once in a while or you will go nuts! In fact, closer to the end of the challenge, that will actually be one of the steps.

But don't give up! I promise it gets easier and surprisingly, your tastes even change. In the beginning I swore I would always crave sugar and nasty treats and sometimes I think I do crave them. But once I give in, I realize that my taste for that particular sweet (some of my favorites even) just isn't as strong. Sometimes I swear I can even taste the "processed" part of it.

Anyway, stick with it. You'll feel better, I promise.

Jami said...

I am loving this challenge and the information you are providing. The baby steps are great!

ATH79 said...

I get so busy sometimes I forget my snacks. I need to learn to keep them on me at all times. I'm a pretty organized person but for some reason I don't plan my meals (except dinner) and snacks too well.

Brooke said...

Angie and Jami - I just barely realized you had left comments on this post. Maybe I need to change the comment settings, eh?

Jami, I'm glad you are finding it helpful even if in the smallest degree.

Angie, don't forget your snacks! They are important.