There comes a time in our adulting phase when we start questioning our relationship with food. This is my journey through millennial diets and the dirt on Gen Z fad foods – it’s mostly my thoughts and a smatter of research as I trained in the gym at age 17. I hope this is helpful to you on your journey.
A personal discourse by Fabian | Edited by Lin | Reading time: 7 minutes
What in the world is clean eating?
Those of us who dabble in fitness or health activities have undoubtedly heard this term at least once. “Clean Eating?” For the uninitiated, it basically means consuming foods that are as close to its natural state as possible, for example, eat a baked potato with its skin, instead of processed potato crisps. Such real, whole foods that essentially contain more nutrients that nourish the body with maximal nutritional benefits.
Of course, we could further discuss organic, pesticide-free, chemical-free, farm source tracking, soil nutrient depletion, and more ecological yada-yada but that is too much for my brain to handle in our SG supermarkets. (An admirable mention for people who grow their own edible gardens which Lin is envious of.) Thus, the simplest food shopping hack for clean eating is – if it does not exist that way in nature, it is definitely processed. Tah-dah!
Why should I eat clean?
Eating what we want is always the easiest, convenient, or feel-good option, but what exactly is it doing to our bodies and health in the long run? (I think McDonald’s has the best property agents who know where the highest traffic is to sell their food to people conveniently.)
First of all, clean eating is not a diet, it’s a healthier way of understanding foods that exist in nature and choosing to eat right; it does not necessarily compromise the taste of the food.
Secondly, eating clean can significantly reduce the chance of us contracting lifestyle diseases. It isn’t only about losing weight since eating less processed foods also means taking in less calories, reducing oil, sugar, and sodium in our diets.
Eating habits form from a young age. We care more about taste than what actually enters our mouths, guts, and bloodstream. The food we often crave such as fried meats, confectionery, and soda drinks are often packed with saturated fats, high amounts of fructose, preservatives that exceed what we should be consuming daily. The modern business of making cheap, industrial-made, chemical-laden food that tastes good often leads to various diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart diseases, cancers, allergies, and more.
Finally, for those who gym or take part in competitions or marathons, clean eating can benefit our bodies with a protein-rich diet that is crucial for an increase in growth and strength for us gym rats. Many have embodied and proved the golden ratio of 30% workout, 70% diet to see the results you want from your hard work in the gym.
Now you might be asking, how can I start?
How to start eating clean?
Taking baby steps is always best when it comes to changing your habits or lifestyle.
Firstly, we should learn about macros tracking – what amount of protein, fat, or carbohydrate are you taking in; what are your calories? Everybody is unique, in the amount of calories we need daily based on our fitness goals, our body types, metabolism, etc.
Secondly, knowing your body and habits. Finding out the required amount of calories you require a day based on your activity level is helpful for moderating quantity or controlling portions of food we eat. Knowing our emotional stress triggers that make us desire particular foods and how to replace those cravings. Some athletes take full blood tests to find out about their body’s nutrient deficiencies or diagnose allergies to particular food.
Thirdly, what is your health goal? Finding out if you are looking to maintain your body weight, lose your body fats, or make gains for muscle growth is another factor for deciding the food you eat. It isn’t just fat that has weight, muscles have mass too – it will however take long-term proper training to to build muscles in our bodies too.
You can then determine the caloric intake you will need for every day in order to eventually reach your health or fitness goals. Every small action you take to map your food choices and habits – removing the skin from your chicken or reducing your butter from 1 tablespoon to 1 teaspoon – goes a long way to help you in reaching your aims.
Then comes the nut-cracking question that hit our raw conscience – do I eat my boring boiled chicken and potatoes that is packed with the protein and carbs that I need for my workout, or do I eat that bbq triple hamburger that I have been craving all day that is mostly saturated caloric fat? Afterall, why can’t I eat that burger if it gives me the happiness and calories I need?
It all comes down to self-discipline at the end of the day. A healthy relationship with food also means that we understand it is okay to eat a little of everything in moderation. Afterall, even drinking too much water can kill us too (aka. water intoxication or hyponatremia).
My personal experience – Fabian
Indeed, eating clean is easier said than done. Bystanders usually only see the tip of the iceberg, but having the discipline and iron will to resist slipping back to comfort foods is extremely difficult. I used to work out about 3 to 4 times a week in the past, training primarily for size gain. In order to be successful, I had to consume about 2500 calories a day, with 150 grams of protein for optimal results. I meal-prepped the same thing almost every day: plain chicken breast, white rice and bland broccoli.
Being too clean with severe restrictions on sauces does kill the joy of eating unless you don’t have tastebuds to begin with. Apparently, we are slaves to our nose and tongue first – a whiff of the right food scent can seal our food choice rapidly as we drool over the imagined taste of the food we have been trained to want.
I burnt out in less than two weeks because it was too boring and eating the same thing daily was weighing in on me. That was when I implemented seasonings, spices with onion and garlic to make my meals taste better. I also started to switch up my proteins and vegetables so that I have a variety each week to keep me more motivated.
The lesson here? There is a spectrum to eating clean, and it does not necessarily mean zero seasonings and sodium. A little goes a long way, and having a cheat meal or two weekly can actually be beneficial in the long run as it alters the body’s metabolism rate to my favour. There will definitely be days when you are asking yourself why you are going through so much trouble just for food. At this point in time you will have to ask yourself, who and what are you doing this for?
The motivation to keep going will take mental strength, not just steel tastebuds.
Nutrify Meals and Nutrify Prep
Here at NutrifyMeals.com, our goal is to take all the fuss and trouble out of meal prep and clean eating for you so you can spend more time doing what you absolutely love and stay motivated. With a rotating weekly menu, we hope you are fond of your meals as you come home to a different spread every week.
With full customisation, you can choose your favourite proteins, veggies and carbs to complete your meal, ranging from 100g to 400g so that it fits your calorie goals. If you’re looking for fuss-free options, our super set meals are your best bet as Chef crafts the set meals that make it easier for you to click what you prefer. Our meals are cooked fresh and chilled, never frozen so that it retains its original great taste with maximum nutrients when you reheat it.
Looking for bulk meal planning? This is where NutrifyPrep.com is your best friend. We serve our proteins, veggies, carbs here in 500g and 1kg vacuum-sealed bags so that you can store them even longer, as well as making it more cost effective and time-saving for you to portion out your meals at home! You can cook your own carbs or veggies, or leave it entirely up to us to cook for you so that you just do the eating. Meal prepping and clean eating has never been easier! So, are you ready to make the change today?
I do wish I had discovered this earlier when I was training. It would have simplified my life and let me focus on my training. I’ll probably be more cost conscious and use Nutrify Prep more. Well, better now than never!