It's no secret to people who know me that I was very overweight after having my second baby. I put on 50kg whilst pregnant, and retained about 20kg of it afterward. I weighed 100kg. I was unhappy with that, so I set myself a weightloss goal in October of 2009 to lose 10kg by Christmas. I did that, and kept going losing around 25kg by the end of the following year using the CSIRO diet.
I felt great! But there was that last 5kg I wanted to budge, and a bit of a baby belly still there that I didn't like. We all have our body hangups. Mine is my stomach. It really bothers me emensely, but I'm slowly accepting it now. Anyway, I digress. I wanted to lose the last 5kg, but couldn't. So, after a bit of googling, I discovered clean eating.
I was a clean eating convert overnight. I switched my morning weetbix to a smoothie made with water and a little fruit, stopped having all dairy, only ate whole grains, and started surviving on 1200 calories per day. I preached about my new eating habits, and amazed people by the fact that I didn't eat bread or eat any sweets. And you know what? I lost the weight. I got down to 72kg and started wearing size 10 clothes which was a huge achievement for me. I was happy with my weight loss. I was achieving what I wanted and that was exciting for me.
But you know what? I was afraid of food. I was afraid that if I ate dairy (other than Greek yoghurt) I would turn into a balloon. I was afraid that if I ate bread, I would feel bloated. I was afraid that if I didn't eat every 2 hours, I would ruin my metabolism. I never had massive bingey cheat days because I didn't want to ruin my progress. So I chugged on at my clean eating journey (we'll call it a journey, everyone else does).
In May 2013 I started to feel really tired, I was the thinnest I'd ever been, and I loved what my body looked like, even my tummy was going away, and baby abs were starting to show. I never got 'too thin', but I missed feeling good about food. I missed eating vegemite on toast for breakfast, and I missed being able to fit food in to my daily plan and run with it, like I'd learned when I originally lost weight. I didn't want to binge out. But I did want to eat a cookie, made with real flour, without feeling bad. I have so many limitations to my diet already due to allergies, and I was restricting myself further and I was miserable!!
It was at this time that I discovered how to count my macronutrients, and a way of eating that would not cost me my goals, but would allow me to work toward them by fitting my foods into my daily allowance. I sat down and worked out what I was supposed to eat, and discovered that I should be eating a minimum of 1600 calories a day (with no activity). No wonder I was exhausted!! I put on weight to start with. It was only a few kilos, but I noticed. I started to notice my body leaning down again after a few months though, and I'm really quite happy with my body and it's progress now.
I'm glad I made the change. For the first time in my life, I am in control of what goes in my mouth, and I know that I am eating correctly for my body's needs and my body goals. It's okay to eat bread, and milk, and Ice Cream and cake. It can be made to fit into my daily intake and still be balanced to suit my body's needs. We need a balanced diet to stay healthy. You might ask, how does cake fuel my body for the better? Well it probably doesn't, but... You feel happier knowing you are allowed to eat it of you can make it fit. After all, no one can survive on broccoli, chicken breasts, and brown rice alone. Although these foods are part of a balanced healthy diet, so is cheese and bread and lollies!
Do I regret my experience with clean eating? Not for a second. I learned that I am very stubborn and have more dedication than I knew I did. I learned about new foods, and how I can fill my nutrient requirements with them. I learned to cook with new ingredients, and I discovered Hulk Pancakes! I know now, however, that there is more to being healthy than the food you eat and that depriving yourself from certain kinds of foods, even if it is in the best intent, is not healthy. Because having a healthy relationship with food and your body starts with feeling good about food, not being afraid of it.
Now, if you are a clean eater, and that works for you that is fine. This is my own experience, and I'm not saying you should change. But think about this... Why restrict yourself with food when it isn't poison, and you aren't allergic to it?