I have a dairy allergy. Consequently I also love food. These two things have always been in battle with each other as I was forced to walk away from my two biggest food loves: ice cream and pizza.
When I learned I had an allergy, there were few options available to me as alternatives. At the time, soy products were terrible and I just wanted to cry at the thought of never having a slice of pizza again. Slowly but surely my options expanded and after discovering goat cheese was agreeable with me, I began to start to enjoy food again. But time passed and our lives became busier. We got into the routine of meat, starch, vegetable and it was growing old.
In October 2013 we moved to a new city. This change had us super busy and we resorted to some not-so-great eating habits. (FYI dairy-free does not equal healthy!) Come January 1st as many people do, we swore up and down we were going to get into a better eating and fitness routine.
Sure enough The Husband and I hit the gym January 2nd and never looked back. While our workouts were not necessarily the same, the fact that we were motivated to get off the couch after a long day of work was great. It was also a great way to spend some time together and blow off some steam.
A couple of weeks into this new routine, I heard about That Clean Life. I was skeptical to jump on the boat because I’m not a dieter. I love food, I love going out to dinner and the idea of having a dairy allergy while doing some other fad diet was just not my cup of tea. As it turns out I was wrong, wrong, wrong to have thought this was a “diet”. I quickly learned this is not some get slim fast gimmick or a meal plan that ultimately lets you down because it only consists of eating air.
That Clean Life for me was about expanding my menu options to have a super healthy delicious repertoire of foods that I could eat that were dairy-free. At least that’s how it started. The food was so good that I could hardly call it a challenge. I kid you not, even knowing what was in my food I loved it so much I sometimes felt guilty eating it afterwards and was convinced someone snuck something "un-clean" into it.
The Husband was fully supportive of trying new foods as he too had become tired of our repetitive weekly meals. Day-after-day another delicious meal was prepared and the level of satisfaction increased steadily. We never felt like we were giving up anything in order to eat this way, in fact we were benefiting from the satisfaction of eating so well. We continued to repeat the recipes over-and-over again. Meal plan after meal plan presented itself and we continued to participate while learning how to cook with new foods in a way that was delicious. Like this Baked Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal? For breakfast? You will think you are being punked it's so good!
It wasn’t long before I realized that 95% of my meals and snacks were either from That Clean Life or the clean eating knowledge I had developed. This was the food I started to crave. I’d be jammed on the subway dreaming about my pre-run almond butter and banana snack (which is a lethal combo, by the way).
I also grew my culinary confidence. From someone who was once teased about not knowing where the kitchen was in my apartment (I DID OK, IT WAS A JOKE!) to someone who was preparing meals that The Husband and I deemed as restaurant quality in their taste. My feathers started to puff. I became hooked. Check this out - I even learned how to make quinoa sushi!
Eventually the combination of our clean eating and exercise efforts began to show themselves. By the time Canada Day long weekend rolled around I was able to confidently sport a bathing suit on the beach. Even with my diet radically changing with my dairy allergy, I still hadn’t hit the sweet spot where I felt like I was in the physical shape I wanted to be in. These two things helped me get there 100%.
Do I eat clean ALL of the time? No. I will say though that good meal prep makes getting through the work week really easy. I do indulge, mostly on weekends. But I’m finding as more time passes, indulgences become less and less. I’m attracted to healthy, clean treats instead of something not so good for me. Will I eat a Churros if I discover it’s dairy free? Heck ya. But that’s once in a while and I’m conscious of not going down a slippery slope that will ultimately make me feel just plain gross again.
That Clean Life has opened my eyes to a new way of eating. One where you can eat good food, be full, and share it with your friends - something that so many gimmicky diets boast they can do but don’t deliver on.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t EASY. Despite it being really delicious and healthy food, there is WORK involved in making it. Meal planning, meal prep, workouts. These things all take time and dedication and it’s easy to throw in the towel and say you don’t have time, but you can make time and I promise it’s worth it.