Yesterday, I completed the 10 Day Clean Eating Challenge. I began the challenge last Sunday, September 8th. The purpose of the challenge is to try and eat clean for 10 days, which means essentially nothing out of a box, nothing processed. A quick summary of the challenge:
- Eating 5-6 small meals per day
- Include whole fruits and veggies in at least 3 meals
- Include good sources of protein in at least 3 meals
- Low-glycemic sources of whole grain and starches in at least 2-3 meals and preferably at breakfast and before/after exercise
- Two cheat meals during the challenge
I went into this challenge hoping to lose a few pounds, have more energy, and stabilize my blood sugars among other things. Overall, I think the challenge was a success. Mainly because I went 10 days without drinking any Diet Coke (I’m addicted so that was a pretty hard task). Although, I didn’t stick to the 5-6 meals per day. I noticed after the first few days that eating that many small meals per day (with carbs at each meal) resulted in my blood sugar staying consistently high (in the 170s-200s). So I switched things up after that and my blood sugars have been great since.
A typical day for me over the last 10 days looked like this:
Meal 1-Breakfast-scrambled eggs or hard-boiled eggs with grapes or Greek yogurt and cantaloupe
Meal 2-Snack-string cheese (no carbs-initially ate fruit and/or veggies the first three days but that wasn’t good for my blood sugar)
Meal 3-Lunch-turkey, salad and apples, maybe dark chocolate if still hungry
Meal 4-Depending on the timing, I would eat carrots and hummus (did this the first three days but then started to skip depending on time)
Meal 5-Dinner-for dinners I made the following:
-Ground turkey with veggies
–Basil Walnut chicken
-Chili (with ground turkey)
-Steak stir-fry (with lean sirloin steak)
–Tandoori chicken kabobs
I also wouldn’t eat anything else with dinner except maybe cucumbers
Meal 6-Before bed-string cheese and dark chocolate
After 10 days of the challenge here are my thoughts:
- I drank a LOT of water. They say you should have at least 8 cups of water-I definitely did that (mainly because I had no Diet Coke) I’m also usually dehydrated so this helped to catch up on some hydration, which was especially important with increased running.
- Some of the benefits of the challenge were supposed to be good blood sugars, weight loss and more energy. I did not have good blood sugars when I was following the challenge strictly. It wasn’t until I tweaked the challenge to fit my needs that I was able to gain good blood glucose control. I also didn’t lose any weight, although I didn’t gain weight either. Also, I was VERY tired the entire challenge but I think that is because I was going without any caffeine. I basically needed a nap every day around 2PM.
I didn’t have two “cheat meals” but I did cheat several times: Saturday with beer and bar food for football game; Friday night with wine and popcorn at movie theater; Sunday afternoon with vodka/cranberry at the pool (pool was closing for the season); a “few” Triscuits after the vodka/cranberry at the pool; Chipotle for dinner one night (hubby can be a bad influence although everything in my Chipotle bowl was pretty clean but it is still considered fast food which is a no no).
- Finding out what was allowed for clean eating was tough-a lot of websites said different things-for example, some said cheese was fine, other said it wasn’t.
I ate string cheese and turkey even though I’m not sure if it is technically clean or not but I did cut back on my string cheese intake and I did substitute turkey with tuna a couple of days.
I measured out every single ounce of fruit I ate. Normally fruit is the enemy because I am so bad at calculating carbs for fruit but I got out my scale and measured every single tiny grape, this helped immensely (I also consulted my 2009 Calorie King book that I haven’t used in ages!)
It wasn’t too hard to eat clean (string cheese and turkey aside). I think I typically eat pretty clean anyways but this challenge had me eating more fruits and veggies, which was good. I think the main difference was that I went to the grocery store specifically looking for fruits and veggies, where normally they aren’t at the top of my list.
- I didn’t eat too many starches or whole grains as the challenge called for. I could have improved on this but I guess it’s not bad I chose to eat fruits and veggies instead.
Sometimes, the challenge felt like I was doing Weight Watchers again. I really disliked when I did Weight Watchers because I felt deprived of food and when I stopped doing WW I gained a lot of weight. I’m going to continue to try and eat clean but not stress too much about “cheating”, so I won’t have the same consequences from the WW experience and also to continue trying to be healthy. I also got into a great habit of measuring out my foods, specifically fruits but other foods as well. I’m going to continue to be diligent about this because I think it helped my blood sugars. Overall, I recommend this challenge to everyone. I was happy to prove to myself that I could survive without Diet Coke. I also managed to get myself away from eating waffles every morning from breakfast and replaced it with fruits and protein. And while I didn’t see any overt changes, I think I’m overall healthier because of the challenge.