5 Tips to Maintain a Clean-Eating Mindset


My hubby entertains me from time to time with a very special talent he has developed.  He does bodycomp transformation before-and-after selfies in a mirror.  30 seconds apart.  A slight shift from slightly slumping to meticulous flexing while breath holding, and his entire torso can look months apart in leanness.  

I begged for permission to share pictorial proof for all you loyal readers.
One, for the purpose of illustration.
And two, that we all begin to flood the internet with our own same day before-and-afters.
He agreed.  

This dadbod works for me 🙂

I love it.

Needless to say, When I see a before-and-after on social media, I am rather suspect.  Look closely.  Did the camera really show something different…did they actually radically alter their lifestyle?

I think this kind of thing can throw people off their game, make people feel like giving up, or assume that it’s all too hard.  

pin this! 🙂

A great side-by-side selfie should not be the endstate of your eating program.  The goal is cruising in clean-eating autopilot.  You can do it!

But it’s so easy to overthink the whole thing.
With all this said, let’s discuss five ways to keep your mind in the game.

1.  Know *YOUR* Why

Why is not a result. Why is not, “I am going to eat 100% paleo this year” -or-  “I am going to lose ten pounds.” -or- “I am going to shock the internet with my before-and-after selfie.”

Why is a purpose:

  • I am empowered in knowing that I can partner with food to promote my total wellness. (Nothing I am ingesting will exacerbate health maladies).
  • I have seen what years of bad habits can do to me and/or my loved ones
  • I want my bodyskin to become paperthin, in order to scratch fitness modeling off my bucket list*

My why is
1. Mental health
2. Insulin/hypoglycemia issues (read: hanger.)
3. Setting a good example for the 5 sets of eyes on me.  Constantly. 

Keep YOUR WHY at the forefront of your mind.   


2. Re-Read

Re-read the original sources that point you to the best nutrition.

Not little quips off of Pinterest, but get back into the good stuff:  The Primal Blueprint, Mark’s Daily Apple, It Starts with Food, The Paleo Solution,  Bright Line Eating.  If you read those 4-5 years ago, re-read.  (Or read for the first time!)  You will gain inspiration all over again, and perhaps you will even see things in there you did not catch on the first go-around.  

3.  Don’t do work twice when you can do it once.  

Double batch every time you cook.  If you are not able to eat twice from whatever you have cooked, you are not winning. 

You are thinking, gosh this is so much food prep already, now I have to double it?  Yes.  Heck, you might as well do it 4x and have your Mondays taken care of for the month.  Remember, the freezer is your pantry.  The moment it feels like too much work is the moment you call for pizza.  Nothing takes the wind out of your sails faster than having one more thing to do.  

Nick Shaw is over there at Renaissance Periodization making A MILLION DOLLARS merely convincing all his minions to multiply food prep times seven.  So, double, triple, quadruple if you have to.  It’s worth it.  

Bonus: you will always have a bench stock of healthy freezer meals to deliver to someone in need.  That is one of the best ways to be the light in someone’s day!

4.  Stick to the old reliables. 

Re-creating the wheel every week makes clean eating a chore.  Stick to a solid rotation of delicious food.  Pick 7-10 of your favorite clean meals, and just make those…over and over.  When I was growing up we had spaghetti every Monday.  I thought it was awesome.  Here are my reliables on the rotation all the time:

Clean Spaghetti (with zoodles or spaghetti squash)
Fresh Roast Chicken  (make two while you’re at it)
Butter Chicken (perfect freezer meal)

Marinated Flank Steak (freeze a second batch raw in ziplock, thaw then throw on grill)
Kofte Kebab Meatballs
Seasoned Fish or other Meat + 2 veggies

6 meals right there, and there are usually leftovers for night number 7.  Pick your 6.

I have been doing a lot more work over on Pinterest in an effort to pick up momentum for this blog.  I am totally baffled by the amount of content over there.  It’s dizzying, and gives me recipe FOMO.

Don’t make more of cooking than it needs to be.  Get into a niche and cruise.

5.  Draw your own HFO chart.

Simply put, there are foods that you will not want to eliminate from your diet.

I want to re-introduce you to one of the original Melissa Hartwig inspographics.  I can’t remember if this is in the book.  It was on her blog ten years ago.**  I’m not promoting this kind of language, but it is not my brainchild.  

HFO Scale
To further explain:
The healthiest foods are low on the F-off scale. (Example: Salmon is very healthy. I love salmon, and concur with your analysis and therefore eat lots of salmon.)
Foods that I am told are not SO healthy, but I think are healthy enough on occasion, are closer to the F-off zone. (Example: On occasion, despite all the arguments against legumes, I will tell you to F-off and eat the damn peanut butter. These occasions are not common, but they do occur.)
Foods that should be eliminated from my diet completely because they are nowhere near healthy, but which I have determined are mandatory for me having an enjoyable existence for the next 50 years, are EXTREMELY high on the F-off scale. These foods include iced coffees, Grey Goose dirty martinis and anything covered in maple syrup.  You gotta live right? (Source: AMRAP Fitness, I think it *might* have been lifted from Melissa’s early writings, so I will credit them both.)
My list is cheese, dark chocolate and half & half (Had a complete and total meltdown in the grocery when I found out it doesn’t exist in the UK).  Allowing these three foods back into my diet liberated me to keep it clean everywhere else.

I will go a step further and even submit that an HFO Chart could possibly look different every month.  Or even every week.

Keep two or three things on the f-off list in order to stay sane.

Don’t let anything throw you off course. 

  • Know YOUR why
  • Read original sources
  • Work smarter not harder
  • Stick to a reliable meal rotation
  • Draw your F-off scale

Also, stop stressing over the before-and-after selfies.

Do you have any other tips that help you keep your mind over the matter?  Please share with us, I would love to discuss in the comments!

Have a great weekend,

*If your why is to become a fitness model, then yeah.  A paleo diet will not be the path for you.  It’s too calorically dense.  You instead need to become a chemist in order to account for every molecule that crosses your lips.  Different plan altogether.

**(Her blog was hilarious and *brilliant* and the precursor to her awesome books.  I have asked her people over at Whole30 if I can have a special invite to the old blog, but they didn’t respond. )

Please share, and pin for us:


29 comments on “5 Tips to Maintain a Clean-Eating Mindset”

  1. These are great points! Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad you are back to writing in your blog. I’ve enjoyed every post! And thanks to your hubby for being a good sport😊. Great example of never knowing what the truth is on the internet!


  2. Love it! I’m currently working very hard to redo my mindset that food is fuel and does not have to be a new exciting recipe every night (to meet the goals J and I have for our family and health)…I spent most of last year trying out new clean recipes and just got burned out. Thanks for your ideas for Staples!!!


    1. Thanks for reading!! I deleted a whole section talking about food is fuel and it is culture, but the fuel component is far more recurrent/circadian than the culture component. Your home is a place where food is primarily fuel, and sometimes culture. It takes time to hit the right combo for your family. :):)


  3. I am on the beginning of my journey for Food Freedom Forever as Melissa Hartwig writes about. I did the Whole30 with friends this January and it was JUST what I needed. My WHY: To have food freedom and not be a slave to food or bound by cravings. I don’t want to have to eat a certain food just because it is a certain day. (Like wings or pizza on Superbowl Sunday) I am currently working on my health meal staples (heck, just cooking in general…I didn’t do it before Whole30). Right now my favorites are roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic (I can seriously eat the whole Costco sized bag by myself) and Asian Cauliflower fried rice. Right now I am in the reintegration portion of Whole30 and trying to do my best to see how food effects me. Then I can come up with my F-off scale 😉 Thanks for this entry, it was just what I needed this morning!


    1. Mary! Have you seen her f-off scale in any of her books? I think occasionally you’ll do some changeups. Seasonally or something. But I think being inundated with recipe ideas almost sent me back to bad food because I felt like dang. I just can’t keep up. Anyway Asian cauliflower rice is 👍🏻. I would have put down the Thai green curry (which I have in our recipes section but can’t find the paste here). I used to eat that about three times a month. So i has to swap that out for the meatballs. :). Miss you my friend


      1. I haven’t seen the f-off scale yet, but I am near the beginning of two of her books. I will get there…baby steps =) I am growing and learning a ton though!


  4. I am not hooked on your blog! Normally I prep one meal at a time, but I am going to try to freeze a meal (or three) and see if eating healthier gets easier.


    1. Hi Kathryn, I hope you meant now, not “not” ha ha. Either way, many many things can be frozen raw, and almost everything can be frozen after cooking. It really is so helpful to just pull it out of the freezer in the morning, warm it up at dinner time. I’ll have to do a post about what meals freeze well and what doesn’t. Lots of experience on that one. 🙂


      1. I also need help with the meal freezing concept! I would love a blog on that! And how not to rely on microwaves for reheating!


  5. I keep scrolling back up and looking at those amazing “before and after one-minute” photos. I’m always skeptical of some of those before and after photos as well. I needed to read this reminder post because I broke up with sugar (again) a few weeks ago. We don’t play well together.


  6. I should probably do clean eating, but I haven’t tried it so far. I just like my carbs and junk food too much. Maybe in a few years or so!


  7. I decided to focus on my health and to lose weight last year and I have been going at it until today. I think it’s worth especially once you get used to lifestyle. It’s all about keeping yourself motivated.


  8. I like the idea of keeping in mind your why. Why are you doing this, that is great motivation to keep going! I know it can get difficult to keep going, but keeping your reasons for starting in mind will help for sure.


  9. This is a very motivating post. I love your tips. They are not like those I commonly read online. I have to determine my “whys” too. I have diabetes and it is not good for me to have this chronic illness and be overweight. Thank you for the gentle “nudge.”


  10. We applaud your determination and discipline! It is much more likely to stick to something if you can visualize and read it.


  11. First of all, that bodyshot. Amazing!!! Also, I love your tips. Every single time, I have made extra when cooking, I have been so happy the next day or in the future, when I was too busy to cook.


  12. I agree in re-reading and looking at photos for inspiration. Losing the last 5 pounds can be very difficult but maintaining it is the hardest. And the points you have shared are truly helpful!


  13. My mom just started making double batches of meals because she doesn’t like to cook. I do love to cook but it makes sense to double it and spend less time in the kitchen. Especially since it’s warming up outside and there are so many reasons to head outdoors.


  14. I agree in your post especially on taking photos for motivation. Before and after photos works for me so I suggest it. Thanks for this very helpful post. I guess we just be always be positive and look forward to achieving our fitness goals. – Anosa


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