Eating Habits & Mindset
Adapted from Clean Eating. Simplified. by Rachel Gainer and Shannon Sargent
Clean eating isn’t just what you eat. It’s also how you eat. We encourage you to eat mindfully, making the best choices for your physical and mental health. This means using good judgment to balance clean, everyday meals with intentional splurges. We don’t expect you to abstain from comfort foods or sweets indefinitely. But we invite you to cultivate healthy habits for life-long success.
Eat protein + veggies at every meal. A balanced meal should include all three macronutrients: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Most people don’t have trouble eating enough healthy fats or complex carbohydrates (e.g., whole wheat, brown rice, or oatmeal). But many people have trouble eating adequate protein and vegetables. Protein is used to repair and regulate the body. It is the most satiating macronutrient and requires the most thermic energy to digest. Veggies supply the body with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and much more.
Never skip a meal. Some programs recommend four to six meals per day; others recommend three. Each strategy has advantages. We recommend scheduling meals at regular intervals that work for you and sticking to that schedule as much as possible. This teaches the body when to expect food and when to rely on internal reserves. Avoid skipping meals, since this can lead to impulsive overeating later in the day.
Honor hunger and satiety. Metabolism is a complicated science. But for optimal health, you need only listen to internal cues of hunger and fullness. This can be difficult if you are out of practice. Processed foods, which are often energy dense but nutrient poor, can interrupt and confuse these delicate signals, making it easy to overeat without satisfying your body’s basic needs. But returning to a diet of nutritious, whole foods can restore these signals, allowing you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight over time.
Focus on possibilities, not limitations. If you focus on eliminating “forbidden” foods, you may start to feel deprived or anxious, which can drain your will power and lead to uncontrolled binging. Instead, concentrate on bringing more whole foods into your diet. Try a new veggie each week. Experiment with unfamiliar spices. Focus on what you can have, instead of what you can’t.
Take ownership of your decisions. Instead of thinking, “I can’t eat that” (followed by pouting and complaining), try: “I choose not to eat that.” When you own a decision, it empowers you. The choice to opt out doesn’t feel like a burden or a punishment. The choice to indulge doesn’t come with guilt and regret. Acceptance prevents one splurge from turning into a three-day binge.
Listen to your body. What’s good for our bodies may not be good for yours. Every body is different. After you eat, pay attention to how your body receives each food. Food can alter your digestion, sleep, mood, energy, and much more. With time and practice, you can fine-tune your diet to fit personal needs and preferences.
Model self-love and compassion. Many women struggle with positive body image. No matter how you feel about your body, we encourage you to embrace its strength and potential. Your body is a beautiful, miraculous machine, and food is its source of fuel and energy. Care for your body out of love, not disgust or self-loathing. Never speak ill of your body to others or to yourself.
Learn more about clean eating and how to get started in Clean Eating. Simplified.—an eBook I co-authored with Shannon Sargent of cleaneatsandtreats.com.