Back in my fitness instructor days, my Instagram account proudly endorsed the #eatclean movement to the point of annoyance. I, like many other fitness professionals, thought that this hashtag would inspire people to make nutritious food choices. While it may have inspired some, I’m finally realizing that using phrases like “eat clean” could be down right insensitive and borderline damaging.
In case you missed my last post, I recently participated in Scare Your Soul, a challenge that encourages you to live outside of your comfort zone for 3 days. On day 1 & 2, I tackled my body image issues. I wanted day 3 to remain on the same body positivity path, but I was stumped as to how to go about it. My roomie / editor, Alisson, suggested that my third and final challenge should be eating processed foods for a day, every meal. I cringed and said “Nope. No way. There’s no way I can do that”. Then I realized that’s exactly what I needed to do. She encouraged me to do this because she thinks I’ve become a pretentious food snob (this is how we talk to each other, we’re very close) who only eats artisanal, organic, hipster foods. She suggested that maybe eating like I used to will remind me where I came from, and get me back in touch with my roots.
Challenge accepted. Let’s eat dirty.
I normally begin each day with a homemade smoothie: kale, blueberries, bananas, beets, flax seed, ginger, turmeric, OJ, and coconut water. (Most of these ingredients I get every week from our local Farmer’s Market.) I’ll drink my smoothie while frying two eggs over medium in coconut oil. While the eggs are frying, I’ll also be preparing avocado toast on Ezekiel bread (flax, of course) with a sprinkling of chia seeds and organic, ground turmeric and pink himalayan sea salt. I’ll throw the eggs on top of my toast, watch the yolk pour all over the toast (#yolkporn is a thing – look it up), and devour it’s deliciousness while drinking my smoothie
Scare You Soul Breakfast: Apple cider donut and a breakfast sandwich on a croissant with turkey bacon. Okay, the donut was from my local Farmer’s Market and the breakfast sandwich was from Whole Foods, BUT STILL, that donut was full of sugar and the sandwich was white flour with butter and all of the unhealthy bread things. I purposefully avoid turkey bacon because of how it’s made…it’s the worst…but today I ate a few slices and I didn’t die.
I usually leave my apartment with a backpack full of nutritious snacks like raw, unsalted almonds, an organic honey crisp apple, or freshly sliced coconut. (I’m just now realizing how much coconut I consume.)
Scare Your Soul Snacks: Yogurt with blueberries and granola from Starbuck’s. I know this snack is more on the nutritious side of the spectrum, but my options were limited at Starbuck’s. The granola that Starbuck’s uses is mass produced and somewhat processed, so I rarely eat it. Again, I ate it and survived.
A typical lunch in my world is a locally grown kale salad with sliced, fresh veggies (all from my Jersey City Farmer’s Market) with sliced chicken, or leftovers I’d cooked the night before (which would, of course, be organic and fresh made).
Scare Your Soul Lunch: Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, fries, and a frosty.
This was always my go-to to-go meal when I ate fast food. I’m happy to say that nothing’s changed and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich is just as delicious as I remembered. The fries were OK. The frosty was amaze balls.
Side note – Why the hell is a fast food meal $11?!? I thought one of fast food’s main selling points was that it’s cheap. I could have gotten a cold pressed juice for $10. Oh well. #yolo.
A typical dinner would be something that Alisson and/or I made, usually a lean protein sautéed in coconut oil and spices, with a generous side of (local, organic) vegetables tossed with lemon, garlic, and onion, roasted in our oven. While I’d be fine with just that, Alisson usually makes an additional side of rice or some other carb, that I might have a small bite of, too.
Scare Your Soul Dinner: An enormous chocolate chip cookie from Dean & Deluca. It was bigger than my whole face. I ate the whole thing.
Scare Your Soul Wrap Up
Until I did this challenge, I thought that everyone who ate processed foods didn’t care about themselves or their bodies. I squirmed inside when I walked into Wendy’s on Day 3: I don’t belong here. Then I checked myself: Oh – maybe that’s the judgement that Alisson’s talking about. I honestly don’t judge people based on what they eat. I do, however, heavily judge food, which can in turn make the person eating said food feel judged.
I’m definitely a food snob. I’ll admit it. I’ve come to terms with it. I’m okay with it. #acceptance. Maybe I annoy people with my passion for nutritious food, but it’s important to me. And so it trickles out around those that I love, because I care about their health, too.
I still firmly believe that we are what we eat, but Alisson (and this challenge) helped me see that we are also so much more than what we eat.
Now, I cringe at the phrase “eat clean”. While I believe that there’s power in embracing a lifestyle of whole foods nutrition and mindful eating, I also know how challenging – both mentally and financially – it is to maintain. I’ve beaten myself up for “eating dirty” or indulging on “cheat meals”. Negative word associations like this led to me developing disordered eating habits and feeling like I need to justify certain foods with a killer work out. This in turn led to the body image issues and obsessing with perfection I discussed in Scare Your Soul Day 1 & 2.
My biggest takeaway from this three day challenge was that I’m a human. That may sound silly, but I subconsciously try to convince myself and others that I’m a cyborg who is capable of doing everything…and then some, whilst having no feelings or emotions. I just wanna be perfect, y’all! I’ve been told that acting this way often makes me come across as unrelatable, intimidating, and judgmental. I now recognize that and will commit to taming that side of me. Until then, you just might see me at Wendy’s in NoHo enjoying a Frosty, guilt free.
Copy Editor: Alisson Wood