Eating clean is a somewhat new catchphrase used at most CrossFit gyms, but does it literally mean scrubbing up your diet?
There is no real definition of “clean eating” but the gist is to eat lots of veggies, fruit, lean proteins and eliminating anything artificial or overly-processed from your diet. Here’s a post from our RD colleague, Kelly Plowe, (also known as Julie’s niece) who provides insight into her 8-week CrossFit LA diet and fitness challenge.
Thanks to Julie, one of the founders of this site, I am on my way to celebrating my three-year CrossFit anniversary.
I’m currently in the midst of what my gym (box) calls the Whole Life Challenge: an 8-week overhaul of your diet and physical activity, forcing you to take a magnifying glass to all of your lifestyle behaviors.
The “rules” of the challenge are simple but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The bulk of the challenge includes following a clean, unprocessed, Paleo-like diet; namely no dairy, grains, soy, alcohol or sugar. In addition, there are a few other good-for-your-body must-dos including: taking fish oil, stretching, and moving your body—every day.
While this may seem daunting to some, I’m on my third challenge and I always look forward to these 8-weeks. My motivations started with my desire to lean out and get “shredded” but it’s evolved as a result of the unexpected changes and habits that I adopted post-challenge that have kept me coming back, including:
While clean eating has no regulated definition, I interpret it as eating pronounceable, whole-food ingredients that don’t need to be produced in a lab. To eat clean you have to read labels and once you do, you’ll be shocked by the number of additives and sugars that are slipped into some of our favorite foods.
To shop for “clean foods”, you’ll learn that there’s a limited need to go to the middle of the grocery store (oils, spices and as an exception) cutting shopping time in half as you just cruise the perimeter. By the end, my shopping cart is chock-full of colorful fruits, veggies and lean meats and void of bright packaging of highly processed junk.
Diet cokes, Splenda-sweetened coffee drinks and artificially sweetened yogurts used to be a daily part of my diet. By cutting out the sugar and sugar substitutes has put my sweet tooth in check. Smaller portions of wholesome real desserts (read: fruit-based) now do the trick when I need to satisfy my sweet tooth.
The American Heart Association recommends two servings per week of fish but only one-third of Americans eat fish regularly and its only once per week. As a result of this challenge, I now take fish oil every day which helps fight inflammation (leads to many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, etc.), supports your brain and may help with exercise-induced muscle soreness.
Aside from losing a little chub from my middle, I now fall asleep more easily and have a longer, more restful sleep. I also have more energy throughout the day. And with no science-y way of putting it, my head just feels clearer and my plumbing has become top-notch.
I’m only halfway through so the results aren’t in but I’ll be sure to share them with you later next month. In the meantime, I challenge all of you to challenge yourselves. Identify what bad habits (or missing positive habits) you’d like to tweak. Establish your own rules. Find friends to rally with you and put it all on the line.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes adapted from Whole Foods to help get you started.
Pumpkin Turkey Chili
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
- 1 pound lean, ground turkey
- 1 can pumpkin
- 1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- Fresh cilantro, if desired
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, garlic, jalapeños and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add pumpkin, tomatoes water, chili powder, cumin and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Top with chopped fresh cilantro when serving .
Per Serving: 336 calories, 15g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 28g carbohydrate, 10g fiber and 24g protein
–Kelly Plowe, MS, RD