30 Day Clean Eating Challenge and Tips!

I’m sure most mamas can relate to how I was feeling a few months after giving birth to my second son. To help in losing the baby weight, I was breastfeeding, *trying* to eat fairly healthy and making it to the gym only on occasion. But caring for a toddler and an infant doesn’t leave a ton of time to run on the treadmill. Sadly, a slice of leftover pizza is much easier to grab from the fridge and takes a lot less time than chopping up veggies to make a fresh salad.

We went on two week-long family vacations over the summer and indulged in homemade doughnuts, my sister-in-law’s amazing blueberry pie, treats on the boardwalk on the Jersey shore and ice cream before bed.

Something had to be done.

I was almost five months post-partum and I was hanging out at our beach house while the kiddos were napping. I was browsing Pinterest and I came across a pin about simple swaps you could make in your kitchen to begin eating more “clean.” I had heard the term “clean eating” but didn’t really know what it meant. I spent an hour Googling, reading articles and talking to a friend that had been eating clean for three months.

I decided to do something drastic. We returned home from the beach on a Saturday and I decided that on Sunday, I would commit to a 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge. I wasn’t in competition with anyone but myself, but being the competitive person I am, I knew I would win.

I vowed to go 30 days eating little to no processed foods and completely cutting out alcohol, artificial sweeteners, white flour and white sugar. I would shop the perimeter of the grocery store eating mostly fruits, vegetables, eggs, lean meats, dairy (a gray area in the “clean eating” world, but I opted to keep it in my diet), whole grains and legumes. Let’s do this!

Day 1- Wow…I never realized how much sugar I consumed before noon. No brown sugar in my oatmeal, no Splenda in my coffee? What did I sign up for? By 2 p.m., I had a massive headache and felt nauseous. I had a piece of fruit and actually took a Motrin.

Day 3 - No headaches today and I feel really good! I think I was overzealous in my grocery shopping. I have no idea how I’m going to consume all of the produce I bought. When I did my shopping, I had it in my head ALL of the meals I could make and shopped for them all, even though it would take me two weeks to make them. Whoops. Slow down woman, slow down!

Day 8 - I  passed up a Trader Joe’s chocolate and peanut butter cupcake after dinner! Whoa. It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be.

Day 14 – Packing a cooler is crucial to success with clean eating. I did great this afternoon while shopping, pumping in my car and getting my hair cut, all 30 minutes away from home. This evening did not go as planned. We went to a friend’s BBQ and I was told we were going to have hamburgers and hotdogs. Not ideal, but I figured I could have a plain hamburger (no bun and just mustard). I didn’t pack any food. I got there and enjoyed some watermelon and pineapple and then dinner arrived – in the form of hotdogs and already marinated chicken. Oy. So I didn’t eat dinner there and waited until we got home.

Day 20 – Our first meal out at a restaurant on the 30 Day Challenge – so nervous! I ended up doing really well though. The hubs and I ventured to my cousin’s Italian restaurant with our cousins and had a great meal. I managed to avoid the bread basket and ordered unsweetened iced tea. I thought my husband was going to die when I pulled a packet of Stevia (all-natural sweetener) out of my purse. I ordered a side salad with balsamic vinegar and an appetizer for my meal. The appetizer was grilled eggplant rolled up with goat cheese and basil served with their homemade marinara sauce. It was amazing!

Day 22 – Wow, this clean eating business is expensive. My husband and I look at our expenses at the end of every month and try to make sure we’re each spending around the same amount on bills, payments, diapers, food, etc. Our usual grocery bill for a family of four was *about* $300-400 a month, but the first three weeks of clean eating put us well over $550. Gulp.

Day 30 – Success! I made it to the end of my challenge (and I won!) and feel awesome. I don’t own a scale, but guesstimate that I lost about 9-10 pounds. My clothes definitely feel looser and even though I was getting up one or two times a night with the little guy, I still felt energized and pretty amazing overall.

Even though my challenge is now over, I’m still eating almost 100% clean. Well, let’s say 97%. I really enjoy eating this way and I hope I can make this my “normal” way of eating (It helps that after two months of doing my challenge, I had lost almost 15 pounds). I definitely plan on indulging every so often and certainly won’t feel guilty if I give into a craving for French fries with loads of ketchup, but I think it’s about balance. Have a treat, but commit to eating clean as much as possible.

Here are some tips if you’re planning on your own clean eating challenge:

1. Prepare your wallet - Eating clean can be VERY expensive. Though the payoff is amazing, it’s still a shock to your bank account. Things like coconut oil, pure maple syrup and Stevia are pricey, but once you have them, you won’t have to buy them again for a while. You will be going to the grocery store or farmer’s market at least twice a week though. Fresh fruits and vegetables will be a staple and there is only so much room in your fridge.

2. Meal plan and prep – This one was huge for me. I returned to work towards the end of my 30 day challenge and if I didn’t have healthy dinners planned, I could have easily succumbed to making a PB&J sandwich or heating up a can of soup when I came in the door at 5 p.m. Another thing that helped me was packing my lunch for work the night before so it was ready to go in the morning. I spent a lot of time on the weekends cooking and prepping meals and keeping things in the freezer so I could grab them for my lunches and snacks.

3. Keep healthy snacks at hand in the fridge -  You’ll notice I didn’t say pantry. Keeping carrot and celery sticks cut up and ready to go will give you something healthy to grab as soon as you open the fridge. I also liked snacking on hard-boiled egg whites, dates, almonds, cheese sticks and smoothies. I prepped smoothie bags (spinach, fruit, plain greek yogurt and chia seeds) and kept them in the freezer. When I wanted a smoothie, I’d just pour it in the blender and add almond milk. I’ll be posting some of my favorite clean eating recipes that got me through my challenge, so keep an eye out for those soon!

4. Eat small meals through out the day – To make sure you never get too hungry and to keep your metabolism on its toes, it’s best to eat small meals every 2-3 hours. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack/dessert was pretty much my pattern.

5. Keep the end in sight If you attend a party, restaurant or event and there are treats there that you don’t think you can pass up, tell yourself that you can have it… but when the 30 days are over. Chances are, you won’t even want it when that time comes. When my 30 days was over, I didn’t “cheat” until at least day 38. I didn’t want to stray from the plan because I didn’t really feel that I had to. I also didn’t want to break my great eating habits!

Have you ever done or would you consider a similar clean eating challenge? How easy or hard do you think it would be?

4 Responses to 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge and Tips!

  1. Kudos on the challenge and so awesome to hear that you were noticing how different you felt just within a few days.

  2. Pingback: Maple and Mustard Chicken (A.K.A. Man-Pleasing Chicken) Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?!

  3. I think I drink my calories! Sooo much sugar. Switching to water STAT!

  4. Pingback: Simple Swaps for Healthier Eating Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?!

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