Why “clean” eating can do more damage than good

 

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I used to declare myself as a “clean” eater. Throughout most of my bikini competition prep this was my lifestyle. What exactly did being a clean eater entail to me? It meant consuming nothing but whole, nutrient-dense foods. No processed foods at all. I mainly ate chicken, tilapia, egg, spinach, asparagus, potatoes, rice & oatmeal. Every single day. I didn’t have ketchup on my eggs nor did I have salad dressing on my salads. Why? Because I deemed these things as “dirty” or bad foods. I ate the same thing every single day for months…..EXCEPT on cheat days.

I scheduled weekly cheat meals for myself once per week. This meant I could have absolutely anything my heart desired, which usually was pizza, ice cream or some kind of extravagant dessert. I would eat a HUGE meal probably worth my entire day in calories. Immediately after I would not only feel guilty, but I would be SO incredibly stomach sick. My stomach would blow up looking like I was 8 months pregnant, I would be in severe distress, and the next morning  I would wake up still puffy & miserable just to go back to my “clean” diet. Cheat meals were usually on Sundays, and every Monday I would promise myself that next week I would not put myself through that again. That it wasn’t worth it, yet every week I continued to do the same thing. Why? Because I was so DEPRIVED. Eating plain oats for breakfast everyday, and the same boring lunch of chicken and broccoli followed by dinner of tilapia and asparagus was not only as boring as it sounds, but I was driving myself into a deep, unhealthy diet & binge hole.

I missed enjoying my own 23rd birthday cake because it wasn’t clean. I brought tupperware to countless family parties enjoying foods that I grew up eating. I skipped weekends out with my friends because I didn’t want to even be around those unhealthy options I at the time frowned upon. For what? To look good in a bikini? That no one would see me in because I didn’t have a social life? It was time for a change.

I eased up on my eating habits upon moving to San Diego, however I kept those items as staples in my diet, along with intuitively eating choices that I once considered bad. Let’s face it, if you’re restricting certain foods like that and being “clean”, can you honestly say you are going to eat “clean” for the rest of your life? That you will NEVER have a cookie, ice cream or anything “off-limits” again? I don’t think so. Although I felt better mentally, and was enjoying myself more, I knew there was still improvement to be made. I had gained some weight since doing so, and I wanted to find a way to enjoy myself yet achieve the body I always desired. I worked so hard in the gym, so I know that my fitness was not the issue- it was my nutrition.

I stumbled upon Flexible Dieting via Instagram during my “clean” obsessed stage and obviously thought it was crazy. These girls were eating things like pop tarts, Oreos & ice cream and had amazingly strong, beautiful bodies. I didn’t get it. So I did more research, found Dr. Layne Norton aka BioLayne who not only explained the benefits of Flexible Dieting, but Reverse Dieting. With science as proof…I was finally convinced.

My journey with Flexible Dieting began about 2 months ago now. I have lost 10lbs, decreased my body fat percentage and I enjoy my favorite foods every single day in moderation. I have ketchup on my eggs, use salad dressing and although about 80% of my diet is still nutrient-dense, I don’t restrict any type of food. I perform short cardio sessions twice per week when last year at this time I was doing cardio multiple times per day. I have reverse dieted up to almost 2,000 calories after consuming a little over 1,000 during my contest prep. It took me 6 months to reverse diet and I am still going.I can honestly say that I will NEVER go back to clean eating. I did not have a healthy relationship with food and was borderline developing an eating disorder called Orthorexia which is defined as “an excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy.” With it being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week I wanted to share my story of my relationship with food with you, in hopes that you will share it with someone you know who may be going through a similar situation.

Interested in hearing more? Here’s some commonly asked questions about Flexible Dieting.

What is it?

I would define flexible dieting as a simple, effective way to get the body you want with little effort and the least anxiety. It is a scientific approach to nutrition and allows you to find a system that works for you while achieving your goals. There are no rigid rules, but just a relaxed guideline to help you achieve this lifestyle. It is a balanced take on nutrition based on what your body needs to fuel you through your day.

 

What it isn’t…

Flexible dieting is NOT eating as much junk as you want all day long. It is not a fad diet where you cut major food groups or nutrients. It does not label food as “good, “bad”, “healthy”, “unhealthy”, “clean” or “dirty”. This is not a quick fix diet, 30 day challenge, detox, cleanse or temporary. Once adapted this “diet” (I don’t even like using that word) can be a lifestyle.

 

Who is flexible dieting best for?

Everyone. Whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain your current weight, or put on muscle and growth, flexible dieting can be altered throughout your entire life as your goals change. It is solely based on your current weight and activity level. It can also be used to maintain your weight by reverse dieting or slowly adding in calories at a pace that will not result in weight gain. What’s the point of that? Well you get to eat more food, without gaining weight because you are increasing your metabolism. What sounds better than that?

 

The science behind it…

Flexible dieting is based on your overall caloric intake and your macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat). Every single person requires a different amount of macros because everyone is different. For example, the business man who works a 9-5 desk job only to go home and sit on the couch does not require as much energy as a personal trainer who is on their feet, demonstrating exercises and working out all day, therefore they require different macros. Using MyFitnessPal, I have my clients track their daily intake in the form of grams. This may seem daunting at first but after a week or so it actually becomes second nature.

 

But what if I don’t have time to prep meals?

The beauty of flexible dieting is just that…it’s flexible. If you forget your lunch one day, it’s not the end of the world if you pick something up on the go, because as long as you adjust the serving size to fit your macros- your “diet” is not ruined. You are NEVER cheating. Cheat meals are no longer necessary since you get to indulge in your favorite foods daily in moderation. Example? When I used to eat clean, I would plan weekly cheat meals and have an all out BINGE fest. The result? I would gain weight back and have a miserable stomach ache. Since switching to a flexible diet, I have an Oreo or two every day, Pop Tarts before my workouts and don’t gain a single pound because I never go over my macros. And if you go out to dinner? Fear no more! I used to be so stressed when going out with friends- so much that I once stopped going out all together. Now I just plan ahead if I know what restaurant I’m going to. I check out their menu online and see what my options are.I’ve never been in a predicament where it didn’t work out.

 

What’s the best part about this “diet”?

In my opinion, it’s stress free. I used to get such bad anxiety about eating bad foods. I would feel so guilty. With this lifestyle worrying about what I’m eating is no longer an option and since this is 100% science-based, I lost 10 pounds within the first month of trying it out. Now I am maintaining weight but my body composition continues to change. I am down body fat and more “cut”..and actually putting ON muscle. It literally feels like magic!

 

How can you get started?

For those of you unaware, my boyfriend Josh & I run a personal training  business called SD Evolution. We offer online training as well as macro programs now. We support this method so much that the majority of our clients are currently on a flexible dieting program and having extreme success. To purchase your own plan under the guidance of Josh & I as your coaches, head to our website http://www.sd-evolution.com. Click Services, then personal training and you will see the Online Training section. Each plan is a one-time fee of $75 where you will get your calculated macronutrients, lists of nutrient-dense foods to fill the majority of your day with, instructions how to track your macros, as well as weekly check-ins for up to 12 weeks with us to make sure you are on the right track. We believe that we can help you transform not only your body but your relationship with food and have dedicated our lives to helping others do just that. Are you ready to join the Evolution?

 

~Alessandra

FitnessTeam@sd-evolution.com

sdevolution

Josh & Alessandra are Connecticut natives who moved to San Diego to pursue their passion of spreading the healthy lifestyle through fitness and wellness. Both graduated from Central Connecticut State University however it wasn't until both resided on the West Coast when they decided to join forces not only as a power couple but as business partners. Using their combined knowledge and experience, they have made it their mission to continue changing lives one client at a time.