7 Day Clean Eating Challenge – The Ground Rules

Since my back surgery in December, I have managed to maintain my pre-surgery weight (wasn’t as successful the first time), and with January being a fairly hectic month in my house, I really needed to clean up and reset my nutrition. I hear a lot of people talking about the latest “cleanse” to start the new year off “on the right food”, so I made sure to track everything I ate over 7 days and kept my diet as free from processed foods and added sugar as I possibly could. Let me explain my approach.

First Rule – Produce

As someone who studies nutrition as passionately as I do, I know the importance of fresh produce in the diet. So first and foremost, getting 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables are a priority, A serving of a leafy green like kale or romaine is 2 cups, whereas a serving of zucchini or onion is only 1/2 cup. In this plan, you are aiming for 4 1/2 to 12 cups of fresh produce (limiting fruit to less than 1/4 of what you consume) Potatoes (sweet or white) is counted as a carbohydrate for this meal planning. Which brings me to my second rule of this cleanse.

Second Rule – Portion Sizes

Serving sizes are so important. If you aren’t sure what a serving size, Click here for some examples. Even as someone who is very familiar with serving sizes, sometimes I need to get back to basics and for seven days I measured everything using my set of measuring spoons, cups and an inexpensive food scale. 1 tablespoon of dressing goes a long way; I know because I measured it out. Weighing out my animal protein ensured I was getting exactly what I was tracking. I left nothing to guessing.

Third Rule – Diary

The third rule is track everything. Counting macros or calories, track it. You are measuring it, so might as well track it. I always recommend myfitnesspal as a great application that is right on your phone or easily accessed using a computer. This ensures you are eating enough calories and getting enough nutrients. It also is a great way to hold yourself accountable. If my BMR is 2400 and I am consuming 3000 calories and leading a sedentary lifestyle, the reason I am putting on weight becomes pretty clear.

To figure out how many calories you need to be consuming:

  • First, covert your weight in pounds to kilograms: Pounds/2.2046
  • Next, convert your height in inches to centimeters: inches*2.54
  • Plug the numbers in to the equation
    • women: 447 + (9.25*weight in kg) + (3.10*height in cm) – (4.33*age in years)
    • Men: 65 + (13.40*weight in kg) + (4.96*height in cm) – (5.82*age in years)

Then, using the table below, multiply the number above by the appropriate PAL number. This is amount of calories you need to consume to maintain your weight.

Physical Activity Level (PAL) Max example
Extremely inactive 1 1.4 Bedridden
Sedentary 1.4 1.69 office/desk job
Moderately Active 1.7 1.99 construction worker/runner (1 hour/day)
Vigorously active 2 2.4 Swimming 2 hours/day
Extremely active 2.41 2.5 Competitive athlete

Fourth Rule – Carbs

I like carbs. This is no secret. However, for the purpose of this challenge, I stayed away from traditional breads, swapping out my usual whole wheat bread for whole grain pita pockets; while the calorie count is about the same, there is less sugar in the pita. Whole wheat pasta and brown rice is acceptable, but one serving is 2 ounces or 1 cup, respectively, so weigh it out. Quinoa, barley and farro as well as sweet potatoes and other white flesh potato varieties should be used whenever possible, as a carbohydrate. You should be aiming for 50 to 60% of your calories come from carbohydrates.

Fifth Rule – Preparation

In preparing foods, chose to grill, bake or steam. Avoid frying. Sautéing is okay, but the fat you chose to sauté with is to be counted so measure it out. The simpler the preparation, the better. Get creative with herbs and spices to season and add interesting flavors to your food.

Final Rule – Taboo foods

Almost everything is allowed here, except processed foods and foods containing added sugars. Diary is allowed, but in moderation (serving sizes), beans are a great way to get fiber and protein – allowed. Even bacon is allowed, a serving size is 2 slices. Consuming alcohol is discouraged, for 2 reasons; alcohol disrupts the digestive processing of sugar, artificially altering your blood sugar levels, and it also reduces your will power, making it far more likely that you’ll overeat, or sabotage your eating goals.

Are you ready to get started?

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