There are numerous reasons to start eating clean. Maybe you want to lose weight or perhaps you just want to be healthier. Whatever the reason, it can be difficult to stick with a whole food diet when you’re used to eating an unhealthy diet.
I’ve been eating a vegan, whole food diet for the past couple of years now, and believe me, I never would’ve imagined I could stick with a strict diet for this long. Prior to starting this diet, my five food groups were:
- bread (lemon, chocolate chip, cinnamon swirl…)
- salty processed food (pretzels, Cheez-Its, Chex Mix)
- chocolate muffins
- turkey sandwiches
If I can stick to a whole food diet, so can you! Here are five tips for how to stick with clean eating when you’re tempted to give up.
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Determine Your Approach
Before starting a clean eating diet, I recommend determining whether you are an abstainer or a moderator. An abstainer is someone who prefers hard and fast rules. This person prefers to stick to a strict diet – if she has one chip, she might eat an entire bag. One she starts, she finds it difficult to stop.
A moderator, on the other hand, prefers to enjoy treats in moderation. This person would feel too restricted by extreme rules. She can eat a handful of chips without being tempted to eat more.
I am an abstainer, and for this reason, I try to limit the amount of “cheat” days or “cheat” meals I have. Once I start cheating, it’s hard for me to stop. A moderator, on the other hand, might be okay with having more “cheat” days or meals because this person is skilled at doing things in moderation and won’t overdo it.
Are you an abstainer or a moderator? Based on which one you are, you can decide how strict you want to be with your diet and how often you will have “cheat” days or “cheat” meals.
Eat Food You Like
This one seems pretty obvious, but surprisingly, a lot of people don’t do this when they’re dieting. Some people instead choose foods based on what’s the healthiest, even if that excludes all of the food they actually like.
If I ate beets, fish, and cilantro all day (all foods I can’t stand), I wouldn’t feel very motivated to keep eating clean. I make sure to eat plenty of foods I like (such as apples, carrots with hummus dip, bananas, and watermelon).
Trick Yourself Into Eating Healthier
I like the majority of the food I eat, but there are a few foods that I want to include in my diet even though I don’t like them much. For example, I don’t like kale, but it’s a super food and it has many nutritional benefits, so I want to include it in my diet.
I eat salads for lunch that are mostly spinach (which I like) with a little bit of kale thrown in. You can add small amounts of foods you don’t love to dishes that you do like and you’ll hardly even notice.
Change Your Perspective
If you’re focused on losing weight and you aren’t losing weight, you might become frustrated and feel tempted to give up. Instead, try changing your perspective. Losing weight is important if you’re overweight, but even if you aren’t losing weight, you are getting healthier.
Eating a healthy diet can benefit you in many ways even if you don’t see it. It reduces your risk of many diseases, gives you more energy, and fills you up more quickly. If you focus on how much healthier you’re becoming (instead of how much weight you’ve lost), you’ll probably be much more likely to stick with clean eating.
Don’t Let it Break Your Budget
It’s hard to stick with a healthy diet if it’s busting your budget every month. Eating clean on a tight budget can be challenging at times, but it IS possible. For tips on how to eat a whole food diet when money is tight, read How to Eat Clean on a Tight Budget and How to Eat Healthy (on a Budget) While Traveling.
When you’re struggling to feel motivated to continue eating clean, remember that you CAN do it! If I can do it, anyone can. Make sure to choose the best approach for you (based on whether you’re an abstainer or a moderator). Eat plenty of foods you like, “trick” yourself into eating the foods you don’t like, focus on getting healthier (instead of losing weight), and don’t let clean eating break your budget.
You’ve got this!
What do you find most challenging about clean eating?
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