So I’m on a new diet. Generally I hate diets, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I have been trying to get pregnant for almost three years to no avail, and Western medicine has failed me. I am therefore going Eastern, y’all, which means acupuncture, herbs and a pretty strict food regimen. I am supposed to avoid sugars, caffeine and carbs as much as possible, and focus on eating mostly organic meats and vegetables versus processed foods. Basically, “clean eating.” So far it has been surprisingly easy.
Since I pretty much live for food and eating out, I refuse to cut that out entirely. What I’m doing is trying to pick places where I can at least somewhat follow these guidelines. I may not be able to get organic everything out and about, but I’ll definitely be ordering more salads and “light” menu options for the next several months. I typically avoid these items on menus, but have found that they can be surprisingly satisfying if they are your only option.
For example, last night we went to an Asian fusion place in our neighborhood that I had been dying to try. Instead of my usual fried something-or-other appetizer followed by a big bowl of noodles or other heavy fare, I ordered the fresh spring rolls and the Thai beef salad. Both were super delicious, and I did not feel disgustingly full after the meal, as I typically would after stuffing my face with my favorite cuisine.
On the home front, switching grocery stores was imperative. As much as I love the cheapness of Kroger, finding natural and organic food in there is a real crap shoot. Luckily I discovered Sprouts Farmers Market right up in my neck of the woods in Lawrenceville! (There’s also a location in Dunwoody.) Think of it as Whole Foods if it were not ridiculously expensive. Shockingly, even though I am buying as much organic food as possible at Sprouts, my grocery bill is about the same as it used to be at Kroger!
In addition to tons of organic produce and hormone-free meats, Sprouts also features pretty much every health food there is – gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, chia seeds, flour substitutes, flax muffins, you name it… If your doctor told you to eat it, you can find it here.
There’s also a wide selection of all-natural packaged foods, as well as these amazing bulk bins of delicious snacks like chocolate covered nuts and dried fruits. It’s like one of those candy stores where you fill your little baggie with sinful delights, then weigh and pay, but without as much guilt! Oh, and if you’re looking for sulfate and paraben free beauty products, and chemical-free household cleaners, you’ll find those at Sprouts too! I am not saying that everything there is cheap – you have to pay attention to what you’re buying like anywhere else – but if you shop smartly, Sprouts is a great option.
Meals and More
As I get used to this diet, here are some of my favorite ways so far to make it tolerable:
Breakfast – I am a big breakfast person. If I have a skimpy breakfast, I tend to feel starving all day. So I really pack it in come morning time. I have found that the key to feeling satisfied at breakfast is eggs, eggs and more eggs. If I don’t have time to cook eggs, I will eat a hard-boiled egg along with whatever else I have – whether it’s oatmeal, whole wheat toast, cereal, Greek yogurt, etc. Luckily Sprouts sells already-cooked hard-boiled eggs because making them is a real pain. If you don’t have time for eggs, make sure you pump up your breakfast with some healthy additions like Greek yogurt, nuts, fruit, peanut butter, etc. And if you do make eggs, they’re a great place to hide your veggies and greens!
Lunch – My lunches are usually leftovers from the night before, or the Sprouts lunch meat on whole wheat bread or a wrap with lots of veg, or a salad packed with protein from meat, chia seeds and nuts. Typically if I do the salad, I’ll be starving again a couple hours later, so I have to be prepared with snacks…
Snacks – Since I like to eat constantly, having healthy snacks on hand is crucial. Here are some of my go-to munchies. Sometimes I have to combine a few of them to feel full. (It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone if you do it.)
- Veggie sticks with hummus (I have to eat a lot of the hummus for this to fill me.)
- Veggies with my Greek yogurt pizza dip (One day I mixed garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano and black pepper into my Greek yogurt and I kid you not it tasted like pizza!)
- Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
- Nuts (Unless they are flavored, I find nuts kind of boring on their own, so I’ll mix them with something else like dry roasted edamame, dried fruit – but not too much due to the amount of suger – or chocolate-covered nuts from Sprouts.)
- String cheese
- Celery with peanut butter (pretty much the only way I like celery)
- Smoothies (Don’t use a smoothie mix for these, as they are filled with sugar and cals. Just go to town with veg and fruit, add yogurt and a little bit of juice or milk and let ‘er rip. I always make sure to have banana in mine, as I find them to be too thin without it. If you want a little more sweetness, add a bit of honey or chopped dates. If you want some extra health and energy, add some chia seeds or other nuts/seeds, or even peanut or almond butter.)
- NatureBox (These snacks are not really low-calorie, so you have to watch your intake, but they are made with natural/healthy ingredients so it’s not pure junk food like other packaged snacks.)
- Kashi cookies (I am obsessed with these, but they are still cookies, so I only have one at a time. If I have a little milk with it, it fills me up for hours even though the cookies are pretty small.)
Dinner – I am not great at off-the-cuff cooking, so healthy dinners are all about recipes for me. My two favorite sources for these recipes are Dr. Oz The Good Life and Cooking Light. If you look hard, you can also find some in Every Day with Rachael Ray. Here are a few good ones I have tried so far:
- Spaghetti with No-Cook Tomato Sauce (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
- Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups (I never used to order these at restaurants because, well, lettuce, but they were surprisingly tasty and satisfying!)
- Grllled Soy-Ginger Broccoli Steaks, which I made alongside Coconut Curry Chicken
- Chicken Pad See Ew (sans noodles) from Shape Magazine, recipe below (I usually roll my eyes at dishes that try to replace noodles with vegetables, but this one was the bomb. It had all the flavors of your typical pad see ew, without all the ‘ew.’ I used canola oil instead of coconut oil, and low sodium soy sauce instead of coconut aminos, because that’s what I had on hand.)
- Chocolate-covered fruit (My new obsession is dunking fruit in melted dark chocolate and letting it set. Despite the sugar and caffeine in chocolate, my TCM doctor said I can have it since she doesn’t want to crush my entire soul. Strawberries are always good, but my latest fave is dried figs. Oh my god!!!! )
- Popsicles/frozen fruit bars (These are by no means guilt-free, but typically have a lot less fat and calories than regular ice cream treats. Just check out the labels! I have also seen lots of DIY, healthy popsicle recipes in the magazines lately, but haven’t had a chance to try them out yet.)
- My finest discovery in this regard was plain seltzer with lime. It is super refreshing and often free in restaurants. (Sadly, my TCM doctor recently told me I shouldn’t drink seltzer – something about the pH…But if you’re not trying to get pregnant, I’d give this a go.)
- Coconut water (This stuff is expensive, but to die for. Harmless Harvest brand is amazing!!!)
- Herbal tea (I like to brew these and then pour them over ice.)
- Unfortunately there aren’t a ton of beverages out there without caffeine or sugar, both of which I am avoiding. But sometimes if I have a hankering for Gatorade or juice, I’ll mix it with water (previously seltzer) to cut the cals and sugar.
Condiments – there are a few condiments I put on everything that make even the healthiest of foods taste great:
- Greek yogurt (In addition to eating this for breakfast or as a snack, and putting it in smoothies, I also use it as a substitute for sour cream on tacos, quesadillas, etc., and pretty much put it on anything that I feel could use a bit of creaminess.)
- Goat cheese (Goat cheese is apparently healthier than cow’s milk cheese, so I’ve been using a bit of it as a spread on my wraps and sandwiches in place of mayo and other cheeses. It’s also amazing on homemade pizzas.)
- Salsa (I love salsa on everything, especially eggs.)
- Hot sauce (This goes great on hard-boiled eggs or any dish that could use a little extra oomph.)
- Soy sauce (Soy sauce has saved many a lackluster meal for me – just watch it because it has a ton of sodium. It’s best to buy the low sodium versions. There’s also a healthier substitute called liquid aminos, which I have yet to try.)
All in all, after three weeks, I’d consider this diet a success so far. I don’t really feel or look different yet, but hopefully that changes with time. I’ll be sure to update everyone regarding any new healthy food and recipe discoveries. And don’t worry, I will still be visiting and blogging about plenty of restaurants and other sites in Atlanta and beyond!
Any and all tips you have on healthy eating are more than welcome! Help me!!!Tags: clean eating, health food, Healthy eating, healthy snacks, organic