5 Tips to Maintain a Clean-Eating Mindset

9 Feb

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:


Yellow Cauli-Rice

2 Feb

yellow rice

It is marginally rewarding to report that 1/3 of my kids’ daily intake is very clean.  While Eric and I have been healthfully minded for almost every meal, bringing all the kids along on that train is so much harder.  I was all about it back when we had three kids.  ( 🎶🎵Glory days🎵🎶)

I am doing well to ensure all our dinners are clean/primal.  That means nothing more than one protein + two vegetables.  My lifelong friend Robbi nailed it:

“As (the adults’) nutrition increases, the kids is going straight down hill.  We can’t afford to feed EVERY mouth like this for every meal, so the ones who make the money get the better food.  



Confession.  I absolutely love prepackaged yellow rice: Goya, Zatarains, Mahatma.  I would eat an entire pot of it if I could. My kids love it too, and it’s just so easy to cut open the box, dump it in a pot, add water, boil it up and throw it on a plate.  I love yellow rice as a topping for taco salads and wraps and eggs.  And on and on.

this cauli-rice appears brown because I did not use the magic ingredient: yellow #5!

I needed to come up with my own recipe for two reasons.  1.  My favorite yellow rice can only be acquired by driving three hours to our US Commissary.  That’s excessive.   And 2. After doing a little research on the ingredients of yellow rice, I found a common denominator across all the brands: MSG.

Scientific studies show that MSG is made out of meth.  That is why after one hit–hardly anything can stop you from ingesting more, it makes everything taste so good.  It’s science.  On the flip side, coming down from an MSG overdose is brutal.  I am telling you, I once had a two-day migraine after eating a delicious beef pho made apparently from nothing but liquid MSG concentrate + noodles.  But I sure loved it when it was going down!

MSG is actually used to hyper-flavor many processed foods, and over-consuming it can offset our palates.  It takes time and effort to get that palate reset! 

Anyway, it was time for me to make a primal/grain free yellow rice alternative.  Homemade yellow rice is a simple process, and so this was an easy paleo conversion.  Just note: cauli-rice will always have a *hint* of cauli flavor, which is something to get used to when transitioning into a grain-free lifestyle.


1 large head of riced cauliflower (about 6 cups ground)
2 Tbsp olive oil

1 red onion finely diced
1 red bell pepper finely diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
 3/4-1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp coriander

optional garnish (not pictured): tons of chopped cilantro and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts

In a large frying pan, saute the cauli-rice in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat until softened/toasted, about 8-10 minutes.  Set aside.  (I used a large mixing bowl to hold the sauteed cauli-rice.)  In the same frying pan, add 1-2 more tbsp of oil and saute the onion and red bell pepper over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Return cauli-rice to the pan, and add the spices.  Stir over medium heat until mixed completely.  Serve hot, topped with cilantro and pine nuts if desired.

such clean ingredients here

pin this 🙂

This yellow cauli-rice would be a fantastic base for a one-pot meal.  Top it with any grilled or roasted meat, poultry, shrimp, fish or sausage. 




Here are a few other cauliflower recipes to check out:

Cauli-coconut flower bread

Cauliflower Grits Breakfast Casserole


Cauliflower Wraps

How to See Light when Walking Through Nothing but Darkness

27 Jan

Leaves use light to make food to nourish the tree.

I had an “aha” moment this morning after a group-chat with my friend who recently lost two pregnancies and her fertility due to complications.  Understandably, she is grieving deeply.  I have had losses myself and know acutely how deep the pain can sear.

Our group was reading John 8:12, focusing on the concept of light.  In that passage Christ instructs, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  We all kicked the idea back and forth when finally, she posed a very good question:

How can this be true when I’ve been walking through lingering darkness, despair, and disappointment?  And, I know many other earnest believers suffering overwhelming, relentless depression.  This verse doesn’t seem to be true.

I was sitting there simply dumbfounded and slightly panicked.  She was right.  Come to think of it, everyone I know has walked through seasons of utter despondency, grief and long spells of darkness.

Suddenly, it dawned on me.  Maybe we were defining the word “light” incorrectly.   Maybe we attached false expectations onto that one word.

Light is a tool.  A guide.  Illumination.  Enlightenment.

Not absence of pain.

“Darkness” is the typical language we use to describe the experience of pain.   It feels gloomy, foggy, oppressive, disappointing, and sometimes endless.   We await a “light” at the end of the tunnel.  But some tunnels do not have a light at the end (here on Earth.)  Some dark things are only resolved by God who will make everything sad come untrue in the fullness of time.

💡Light is knowing that.

Without the Light, we trudge alone through the storms of pain by “using.”  We use.  Not just alcohol and drugs…we use anything that covers over pain for a short time.  Food, exercise, friends, shopping, reading, sleeping are all good things, but they are not good permanent relievers of pain.  In spite of long periods of pain, we don’t need to rummage for fix after fix after fix.  

💡Light points out false remedies.

In the pit of pain, the darkness makes you panic.  It is common to exclaim, “I don’t know what to do or where to turn!”  With this light of Christ in hand, we can know.  We don’t get a view of the entire path of healing.  However, we can determine what to do today.  We advance incrementally, and in hindsight we look back to see our custom-built path for healing well. 

💡Light illuminates the next step.

Carrying the burden of pain increases internal stamina and fortitude.  We develop a core strength only developed through the struggle.  There is another personal reward: a sense of validity, legitimacy, community, solidarity with the other members of the long line of human suffering.

💡Light showcases the sinews of strength the sad journey amassed in you.

Darkness makes it feel like the joy of others is shallow and nearsighted.  If I am in pain, then I want other people to understand and I want them to feel my pain.  A “no-one-gets-me” air proliferates until you are rendered powerless and unmotivated to contribute to anything or anyone.  Only gratitude can push back this clouded thinking.      

💡Light spotlights your blessings, drives out pain-pride.

Not everyone knows where to get this light.  If we have it, we have to share it.  This does not mean just talk about the light.  Light is spread by meeting needs.  Someone is always in need.  An act of kindness or generosity will instantly break through someone’s darkness.  Keep scanning for hardship, and then be an action-taker.

💡Light blazes like a fire.  If someone is cold, build one for them.    

It is going to be increasingly important to be able to identify all sources, facets and conduits of light in a world of viral abject darkness.  I will be all over John 8:12 from now on.  Following Him empowers me with the light for illuminated life.  

Thanks for musing over these thoughts with me.



These same trees during the dark season are thriving on strength that came from light of days gone by.  They have all they need today to make new buds for tomorrow. 

Read More:

How to Wait Well

Clean Eating versus Heart Satiety

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