10 Real Life Struggles of Clean Eating

10 Real Life Struggles of Clean Eating

I have to admit that today I didn’t do well finding time for myself.  It happens.  I was busy taking one of our puppies to the vet for an unexpected visit.  She cut her leg yesterday so we had it checked out.  Thankfully a little surgical glue, a bandage, and an e-collar later and she is going to be just fine.  Between that and getting ready for a Girl Scout meeting I didn’t have much time to do anything for me.  But, I plan to make time tomorrow.  Since I didn’t make time for me today and many people are looking for healthy eating options this time of year, I thought I might switch gears and talk a little bit about my clean eating endeavors I mentioned in this post about the Daniel Plan.  I love the concept and ideas of clean eating but it doesn’t come without struggles, at least for me.

What is Clean Eating?

For those of you that might be reading this and have never heard of clean eating or only vaguely understand what it is, let me enlighten you on it.  It is a lifestyle of eating only whole, unprocessed foods.  You want to eat only foods that have 4 or 5 ingredients or less on the nutrition label and it better be items that you know what they are.  No 1,2 dimethyl-2,3-whoknowswhattheheckitis, only foods you understand like sweet cream and salt.  No guessing there.  And that is all that is in salted butter if you have ever looked at the ingredient list.  White flour and white sugar shouldn’t be eaten either.  So things like honey become the sweetners you use.  100% wheat flours and whole grains are a staple, instead of the yummy white breads most people consume.  In a nutshell, clean eating is just cutting out the processing and going back to more home cooked, natural foods.

The struggles of Clean Eating

I love the idea of eating clean.  I really do.  Looking at a food label and knowing what is in it gives me some satisfaction.  Knowing my family is being fed well as opposed to wondering what the effects of the so-called foods may be.  As a mom and wife that was fulfilling.  But, (there’s always a but, right?) it was difficult to follow when life got busy.  When we first started the plan I made several things homemade.  I found 9 grain english muffins, multi grain bread, soups, meals, and many other things that fell into the “clean” eating category.  Amazingly they were all things my family enjoyed too so it felt less like a diet and more like a sustainable plan. Despite the things that I loved about clean eating (and still do love), there were some challenges that came along with it.

1. Convenience

This one may be rather obvious, but clean eating is not near as convenient as putting together a quick meal from a box or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven.  If you are looking for the quick, easy way to get meals on the table, this style (at least from my experience) will be difficult to sustain.

2. Longer cook times

When cooking homemade meals, it generally takes a lot more time to prepare whole, unprocessed ones.  It can be difficult to find breads that are clean on the grocery store shelf so what’s a person to do.  Well make homemade of course.  But, let me ask, have you made bread lately?  It generally takes a few hours at the very least.  Now it can be fun and rewarding but don’t plan to come home after a busy day to start baking bread unless you want to be up half the night.  And this is just one example.

3. More dishes

With homemade meals comes the inevitable pile of dishes.  Who has time for that unless you are lucky enough to have a maid to do them?  If you don’t believe me let’s just think about a minimally processed, clean eating spaghetti.  Normal spaghetti these days would probably consist of a box of enriched white flour pasta, a couple jars of sauce, and maybe some browned hamburger.  So generally you have the pan for the meat and sauce and a pot to boil the noodles. In essence, 2 big pans and a couple utensils.  Now take my favorite spaghetti sauce I made when we were clean eating found here from Bless this Mess.  I loved this sauce but you grated carrots, cut a couple other vegetables, browned hamburger (I used hamburger instead of steak) and simmered it covered.  So you went from just a couple pans to a grater, pans, cutting board and knives.  This may not seem like much but it adds up when time is of the essence.

4. Flavors

You might think, “All home cooked natural foods!  That would taste amazing!”  Well sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t.  We were used to the typical American diet of salty, sugary foods.  When you go from that to dishes that get their flavors from other sources (which is a good thing I might add)  it takes an adjustment.  Things taste different and sometimes that is difficult to get used to.  At least it was for us.

5. Planning time

You guessed it.  It takes a lot more time to plan to clean eat.  You have to be intentional about everything you cook and eat, even snacks.  It’s easy to just grab whatever sounds good or is handy, but it’s not so easy if you are being mindful of everything it’s made of.  At least not at first.

6. Finding ingredients that were “clean”

Sometimes you would read about ingredients that were clean or at least cleaner than their fully refined counterparts, but they are nowhere to be found.  I read about some people who found sugar in almost its raw form and used it.  Could I find it at our local Walmart? Nope.  Do I have time as a busy mom to drive all over town just looking for a bag of sugar? Nope.  So it made it difficult at times to find things to use without having to just cut a food completely out of my diet.  

7. Modifying favorite recipes

This is a big one!  At least for me.  Most everyone has their favorite recipes.  Those like mom used to make.  But mom’s weren’t always healthy or “clean” either.  And finding alternatives could prove difficult.  An example of this is my homemade sloppy joes.  I always loved my mom’s savory version of sloppy joes (she had a sweet version too called bbq’s).  However, her sloppy joes called for canned soup.  Yes, a can of Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo Soup.  I have not found an alternative to this.  I mean, how do you replace the flavor of a can of condensed soup even though it may not be the healthiest thing for you.  So it can be hard to modify the recipes which means you give them up or don’t eat clean.

8. Kid approved

This can be the hardest one.  As a mom, we take an unspoken oath to care for our kids.  But, let’s face it, they can be our worst critic.  Now that’s not saying kids are horrible and hard to deal with.  Truthfully though,  they will tell it like it is.  And who wants to starve their kid in the name of eating healthy.  For me, I find great satisfaction in knowing my family likes the foods I prepare so hearing them say they just don’t like something makes me feel like a failure in some ways.  And switching kids taste buds can be more difficult than raising the Titanic.

9. Variety

This could all be in my mind but I sometimes find it difficult to clean eat and not feel like I’m constantly eating the same things. Variety is huge for me and my family.  Sometimes it seems you are in the same cycle day after day, week after week eating the same things.

10. Expense

Money.  The world revolves around money.  And those of us on a budget can find it difficult to eat whole, unprocessed foods without breaking the bank.  Ya you can find some things reasonably priced and some canned goods may even be better than their fresh counterparts, but on the whole, fresh foods cost more.  Take Salmon for example.  A can of Salmon can cost around $3.  Fresh salmon is $7-12 per lb.  Or how about fruit?  You can spend $3-5 for  6-8 apples but a bag of chips is $2.50.  Natural lunch meats can run $4-5 while their nitrite laiden counterparts can run as little as $1 on sale.  You get the idea.

In Conclusion

So now you have the reasons why we struggled to maintain our “clean eating” journey.  Time is the main factor when you look through that.  It takes time.  That’s not a bad thing but when life got crazy busy we just couldn’t sustain it.  Do I like the idea of clean eating? YES!  If i could get it all done and still have the convenience (to an extent) of processed foods I would in a heartbeat.  There were definitely things I loved about clean eating when we were doing it.  So you can decide for yourself.

Eating clean is just a part of being healthy.  You also need to take care of you by allowing yourself time whether it’s to read a book, play a game, or just sit in quiet.  So, I challenge you to find time for you today and share what you did or if you have tried clean eating and what you think of it. Pros and cons.




The Daniel Plan - Healthy Living Lifestyle

The Daniel Plan – The Journey Begins

I loved reading books as a kid.  My summers would often include me laying in bed all day long just devouring a good book.  I loved a good suspense, mystery, adventure book.  But now as an adult with a family I rarely find the time to sit down and read.  Yes, I still enjoy reading but it has taken the back burner to many other activities.  But today I made time for me to read.  I made myself a priority for 15 minutes by beginning a new book, The Daniel Plan.  One I believe that is hopefully going to be the beginning of a new adventure for myself and my family.

The Daniel Plan Invitation

About a week ago a friend reached out on Facebook looking to form a small group to do the Daniel Plan with.  Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman wrote The Daniel Plan. The book says to not go it alone but to do it with a group of friends, to have accountability. So she took a leap of faith and asked others to join her group.

When I saw her invitation and desire to have other be a part of this I didn’t know what to think.  At first I was skeptical and a little apprehensive.  Frankly, I don’t like all the fad diets as I think they just set people up for failure.  Maybe for some this wouldn’t be the case but for me, it would.  I have wanted to be a part of something sustainable, more of a lifestyle change, for several years.  But I hadn’t found anything that fit the bill.

Clean Eating

A couple of years ago, in fact, my husband and I decided to try “clean eating”.  I had found this post from Bless this Mess about clean eating and it just resonated with me.  So we decided to try it out.  We switched out some of the foods we ate to more natural products like no more margarine, only butter kind of things.  I made homemade breads, sauces and more.  We liked it in the beginning and I thought we were onto something.  A new lifestyle I felt good about.

The End of It

We tried to eat clean for about 2 months and then we decided we were going to move.  We began the process of selling our house and buying a new one.  And for any of you that have gone through that process it’s not an easy one.  We began some fix up projects on our home, cleared out clutter, and started looking for a new house.  A month later we had officially listed our house and made an offer on another place.  Within  a week of listing our house we had an offer which we accepted and then got word our offer was accepted on a house we wanted to buy.  So from start to finish we decided to sell our house and closed on both our old house and new house 2 months later.  It was a whirlwind ride!

However, despite the excitement of moving and the new house, we weren’t able to maintain our new lifestyle.  Back came the convenient processed foods and fast foods.  I mean, really, who has time to cook loads of from scratch foods when you are trying to get a house ready to sell.  I sure didn’t.  So ended our clean eating adventure.

The Here and Now

Ever since we tried to do clean eating I have wanted to get back to something similar.  To be honest, my husband and I neither one are at healthy weights.  We would both benefit from a lifestyle change if we want to be here for the long haul.  I had never seen anything that interested me or that I would make a priority to read or follow through with.  Many things seemed gimmicky or even more unhealthy.  The eat low-fat/fat-free just didn’t seem sensible to me anymore either.  Until now.

I had never heard of the Daniel Plan so I downloaded a free trial of it on my Amazon Kindle and read a little.  From what I could tell in that moment it appeared to be a lot like clean eating, pushing whole natural foods rather than supplements or low-fat chemical laden ones.  Needless to say my curiosity was peaked.  I was interested.

The Journey Begins

Since the plan itself interested me, the only hurdle left to get over before starting the Daniel Plan was my own introverted self.  Yes, by nature, I don’t easily go meet a bunch of people I don’t know really well.  Especially when sharing things like this journey.  What if I fail?  What if I start this but fall short?  What if all the others lose a lot of weight and get healthy and I don’t?  I know it may not matter what others think of us, but come on, who can fully, 100% say they would be okay starting a journey of this sort and failing in front of others, especially people they just met.  I can’t.  But I pushed through and went to the first meeting. We met each other and decided to read the 1st chapter over the next week.

So the journey begins.  Today, I am starting down a road which will hopefully change my life and my husbands and teach our kids a new way to live.  For my 15 minutes of “me time” for The Challenge I began reading The Daniel Plan.  I am not quite through the first chapter as I stopped so I could help my husband finish the dishes (duty calls, right?).  I believe this book/plan will be challenging yet good. Pastor Warren begins by pointing out, within the first few pages, how our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and do not belong to us.  They were bought at a high price.  So not taking care of them is a sin and going against they very way we were created.  Tough words I know.  And that is just the beginning….

Your Invitation

I am taking time for me today to begin a journey to lasting health.  I know several more days of me time will be spent continuing reading this book and implementing many of its concepts and lifestyle changes.  So if you are interested in doing the Daniel Plan too feel free to join me.  Join us.  This adventure isn’t meant for one.  If not I hope you at least find time for YOU today.  Please share with me if you are starting the Daniel Plan or what you are doing for YOU today!  And if you want to buy the Daniel Plan book to begin reading it to see if you want to change your lifestyle feel free to check it out with the link below (affiliate link) or in stores.

Daniel Plan Amazon Link