Happy New Year!!
As we launch headlong into another year, I am finding myself evaluating the year previous in order to get ready for the new adventure ahead. Every New Year brings with it the hopes of rejuvenation of spirit, mind and body. For many that is a new found dedication to ‘Eating Clean’. But what does that really mean and how can do we make this happen while living a life on the road?
Let’s start with asking a very simple question:
“What the heck does ‘Eating clean’ even mean?”
Seriously, are we just being sure to wash our food first?
Is it eating only raw, locally sourced vegetable products that are ethically harvested?
It really is such an arbitrary statement…..kind of like ‘organic’ here in the U.S. (Don’t get me started on that one, the scientist in me wants to scream every time I hear this term). The funny part about clean eating is there really isn’t a specific definition. In fact, there is not even a Wikipedia page dedicated to it!! So what do people really mean when they become dedicated to ‘Eating Clean’?
I think the most commonly accepted understanding of the term could be summarized as:
A focused diet around largely unprocessed foods with specific emphasis on whole vegetative produce (fruits, veggies, grains) along with lean protein sources and healthy fats while avoiding overly processed, refined foods and unhealthy fats.
As you can imagine, this definition allows for a lot of leeway in just how strict your diet has to be in order to be considered “clean” but the point of this post is not to come to a universally accepted definition of Clean Eating. What I want to discuss is how do you actually make this type of a diet (regardless of how strict) work when you are on the road? It is easy, or at least easier, to keep your diet on point when you are at home – shopping for the groceries, prepping your own meals, packing your lunch, etc.
But what about the road? How do we carry those great habits we are developing at home and not waste them once we hit the airport?
Simple, you need to mind your P’s & Q’s!!
I cannot stress this point enough, if you fail to plan – you are planning to fail. Heading out on a trip with no plan in place is a recipe for meals that involve a lot of brown. Whether the brown be from the bag the meal is served in or the color of the food itself, you are a long ways from eating anything close to what would be considered clean. To read more on how I plan for a trip (it is more than just what restaurant is in the hotel) here is a link to my process. You would never hike into the wilderness without a map or a GPS – don’t travel without an idea of the lay of the land.
How your food is prepared makes a huge difference in the quality of the nutrition you are consuming. Your body is going to have a much better reaction to Salmon that is baked, broiled or grilled than to the same 4 oz filet that is battered and deep fried or “sautéed” (read: fried in a pan vs. a deep fryer) in a cream sauce.
The quantity of the food you take in matters nearly as much as the preparation and is where most people struggle the most. Spend time familiarizing yourself with what an actual portion size looks like. Think about it, a portion of lean protein is about the size of a deck of cards. Now think about the last time you remember getting a chicken breast at a restaurant that was the size of a deck of cards as opposed to a small tablet computer.
Order your food like you would if you were buying a box of crayons. Remember back in the day when all you wanted was that box of 64 Crayons? You know, the one with the built-in sharpener!! Your food should be the same way – full of color and vibrancy. Mix the browns of whole grains with the greens, reds, yellows, oranges and purples of garden vegetables. I say we take back the phrase “Taste the Rainbow” back from that candy company and put it back on our dinner plates.
Stick to these tips for ALL MEALS and not just dinner. Too many RoadWarriors let breakfast and lunch just “happen” and try and focus on dinner. Problem is that by the time you get to dinner, you are starving because your calorie count is so low. Be persistent in your diet.
Much more on this subject is to follow over as we continue to explore each of these points in more depth. How about you? How do you ensure you are able to stay on track with your diet, whether you are on the road or not? I want to hear from you as well.
Again, happy New Year and Happy “Clean Eating”