February 2, 2016 by Virginia James
I’m Virginia James (aka The Barbell Gal), and I’m here to have a friendly talk! Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve touched bases with a few people who have asked me some questions regarding my diet, and how I eat.
(Please note that I am not a professional personal trainer nor am I a licensed nutritionist. However, I have studied the subjects for my own personal knowledge for years)
Why is eating clean important? …and how do you keep it up?
Short answer is: we should eat clean because that’s the way nature intended us to eat. Do you think they had drive thru’s in the 15th century? When you consume anything that is processed with additives, chemicals and loaded with sugar, how do you feel afterwards? sometimes you get a rush of energy, but in the end you always crash -your body is dead tired from having to break down all of the crap you put in it, leaving you susceptible to illnesses -because when your body is that stressed/tired over digesting the crap you put into it, chances are, your immune system is going to get a bit lethargic.
So why is eating clean important? When you eat clean, your energy levels go up without crashing, and slowly release energy in your body throughout the day rather than just pulsing spurts before a crash. This is what our bodies were designed for -and they are machines when it comes down to it. When you consume processed foods, think of all the chemicals that make up a single bite that you take. When something like that enters your body, it freaks out! Your immune system running in full blast, trying to help your stomach digest it -while your immune system is constantly fighting these ‘alien’ foods, it leaves your body open to viruses, diseases, and other germs or bacteria. Now imagine that happening every single day, and think of how often you get sick throughout the year. People with an ‘eat clean’ mentality may get sick once per year IF that! …this is going by my personal experience. I usually only get sick once per year -and it’s usually my fault (in the cold with wet hair -not a great idea!).
How Do I keep up clean eating? Pretty easily actually -eating clean isn’t what most people think it is. Some think eating clean means eating raw. That is absolutely NOT the case. Eating clean means you can still eat breads, grains, cooked foods, and anything your little heart desires -just nothing processed- meaning, you need to cook it yourself so that you know exactly what goes into it -and you have to cook with ‘clean ingredients’ meaning, they have to be found in nature. Other than that there’s the portions you need to eat, which you can go by the picture below. This is not a low-carb plan at all- making it fairly easy to stick to. All in all, I basically eat what I want- but it’s more about the quality of the foods rather than the quantity.
Why is clean eating so hard?
Vegan or not, we all get addicted to eating crap. Next time you grab a bag of chips, candy, or any processed foods, take a long hard look at the ingredients. All those chemicals (including some artificial flavour additives), when they enter your body, they cause your brain to release dopamine- which is a ‘feel good’ hormone. We like that feeling. A lot. It’s the same hormone the brain releases when you do cocaine, heroin, and other drugs. So we keep eating these foods to get that release of dopamine. But what we can’t get through our thick skulls (as a society) is that this is the exact same thing that happens to drug addicts. IF you stop eating sugar -you will go through withdrawal just as a cocaine addict who’s trying to get clean would. Your body struggles to get itself back to ‘normal’ after everything you’ve put it through.
Knowing this… do you think your body should have to go through that just to be healthier? No way. But this isn’t something that just happens. This is something that we do to ourselves. Likewise, if you are a clean eater, and then you have some junk food -your stomach will not accept these foods so easily. You’ll get headaches, stomach aches, heartburn, and tons of other symptoms- which is a sign that it doesn’t belong in your body. Much like smoking, drugs, and alcohol …if you NEED to build a tolerance, chances are, it’s probably NOT good for you, right? Our problem is, we’ve built our tolerance up for YEARS; which is what causes that state of ‘withdrawal’ when making the switch to clean eating habits. This state of withdrawal is what makes clean eating hard at first. After you detox your body of the years and years of eating the ‘American way’, you will lose the hunger for those foods laced with chemicals.
Think of it this way: the ‘American Diet‘…it’s not only a bad diet, it’s an addiction– one that needs to be broken in order for you to be healthy, and take better care of yourself. It may be difficult to get through the beginning changes in your diet, but once you get through that, it will feel like a breeze, and you’ll lose those cravings -hell, some of those processed foods will eventually gross you out -just the smell of them!
So what if I can’t cook?
Easy answer: practice makes perfect. I have always loved being in the kitchen since I was very young, I’d sit and watch mom bake cookies, cakes, treats, and making delectable soups, pastas, and other dishes -all from scratch! So back when I was first interested in cooking, I’d offer to help her, and in doing so I learned so much!
The thing is, you can’t just start cooking your first dish and expect it to be perfect -But again, with practice, you’ll get the swing of things.
Check my menu above and click on ‘Recipes‘ to see what I’ve made! I am always experimenting with creating or modifying recipes (yes, even sweets!). And will definitely be adding more in there for you to try out!
Click HERE for my Veganized foods/ingredients list.
Remember: Eating Clean doesn’t mean restricting yourself. Many people have misunderstood this and it is definitely not the case. As always, the more variety in foods and well-balanced your diet is, the more your body will love you 🙂
Interested in learning more? Check out the following documentaries: