How a Clean Diet Can Change Your Life

8793165208_a4fab93df5_zI’ve been talking lots lately on the changes we’ve experienced here at the Frugal Farm as we’ve began juicing and looking more seriously into things like a macrobiotic lifestyle.  As a family of self-confessed foodies, this is a HUGE change for our family. I grew up in a family where cooking and feeding others meant love, as did sharing a good meal together.  Nothing gave me more pleasure than to cook a wonderful meal and follow it up with a gooey-chocolatey dessert.  I love seeing the joy on the faces of friends and loved ones as they delve into my Turtle Cake or my “secret” Chocolate Chip cookie recipeBut a funny thing happened on the way to the dessert bar: we began to not care for the emotional and physical ups and downs that came with a processed food, sugar-laden diet.  The funny thing is, we really did eat much less sugar and processed foods than most Americans, but what we were eating still affected us, both emotionally and physically.  We figured being stressed out and bounced around like a ping pong was normal life.  Then we learned that it wasn’t.

A Clean Diet: The Joys of Juicing

Our journey to revelation started when we watched Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, a documentary that featured a really sick guy who simply wanted to be healthy.  He had changed his life by juicing, and we were envious of his new found energy and strength. We spent a few days here and a few days there juicing, and after a few weeks, were hooked on the difference in how we felt and looked.

Then oldest daughter started doing some research into the macrobiotic way of life.  A macrobiotic diet consists of unprocessed grains, veggies and fish, primarily.  It frowns on dairy, meat and sugar, suggesting they be used only sparingly.  Maddie was intrigued by testimonies of macrobiotic fans, and decided to see for herself if she noticed a difference in the way she felt.

She made a grocery list and off to the store I went to pick up organic brown rice, kale, raw nuts and the like.  We began our juicing/macrobiotic lifestyle, working to stick with macrobiotic suggestions, but with careful moderation too.  We occasionally have pineapple, lime and lemon, all of which are frowned upon by the macrobiotic lifestyle due to their high citrus content. By and large, though, all that we ate was pure, clean, real food.

Within a week I personally noticed that mood swings had altogether disappeared.  Those days where I felt “cloudy” and overwhelmed by my to-do list went bye-bye too.  I was now focused, clear-headed and had tons of energy! I didn’t need as much sleep.  I get up early: between 4 and 5 am, in order to work on my freelancing biz before the kids get up.  Because of this, I used to fall asleep on the couch most nights before 8.  On the macrobiotic/juicing lifestyle, I’m wide awake until bedtime at 10.  No more exhaustion, no more general cloudiness of the brain.  No more fatigue. No more getting winded running up and down the stairs.  OH, and I’ve lost 19 pounds. :-).

Recommended Reading: Clean — Expanded Edition: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself

When I think back to caveman days, and imagine the immense amount of work that early man had to do, they would’ve needed FAR more energy than their current-day, desk-sitting counterparts need.  How did they manage to do it all and stay strong and energetic?  Simple: they had nothing to eat but food the way God made it. There were no processed foods, no deep-fried delights, and no sugar-laden goo.

We often think now that we “couldn’t” live without our refined breads, pastas and desserts, but since our family has jumped on the macrobiotic/clean diet bandwagon, sugar holds absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever.  And the rest of the family is losing its luster for the stuff as well.

In my “logical” mind, I can’t see myself sticking to a lifestyle like this, simply because it’s not “normal” compared to the rest of the world.  But I now understand how people like Christie Brinkley can go 50 years without eating meat or indulging in sugar on a regular basis.  Eating a clean diet just feels good.  And it feels good to feel good. 🙂

Recommended websites: The Macrobiotic Association of Great Britian

**Update: Oldest daughter went to her self-defense class last night.  Maddie has long suffered from ADD/focus issues.  In her self-defense class, she’d have trouble remembering the tactics/names of the tactics and would get worn out after class. “Mom,” she said last night as we left the 2-hour, highly intense class “I was TOTALLY focused tonight!  I didn’t have any trouble at all with memory and focus, and I’m not even tired or worn out either!”   Change your diet and change your life. 🙂

54 comments

  1. Chonce says:

    Love this! Sometimes the food you eat can weigh you down and make you feel irritable and sluggish. Eating clean definitely does make you feel a whole lot better. If you have any tasty juicing recipes please share!

    • Laurie says:

      So true, Chonce!! Our favorite juice is Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’s Mean Green Juice. Just google it and the site and recipe will come up. It’s got lots of power-packed veggies in it with a hint of sweetness. YUM!

  2. Ben Luthi says:

    Awesome! I’ve been meaning to eat cleaner, but I think part of me is too lazy to change, and the other part is afraid I won’t be able to stick to it.

    • Laurie says:

      It makes me cringe now too! I feel bad for them for the junk food hangover they’re going to have the following day. 🙂

  3. “When I think back to caveman days, and imagine the immense amount of work that early man had to do, they would’ve needed FAR more energy than their current-day, desk-sitting counterparts need.” So true! It’s great you’ve taken the steps to nourish yourself and your family like you have. Sometimes that might mean more money spent at the grocery store, but think of the health care savings! People don’t think about that and eat crap and then need to be put on medications for things like high cholesterol and diabetes. I’m pretty sure broccoli is cheaper. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, I”m curious to see how this month pans out cost-wise, as it’s our first full month of macrobiotic/clean eating. Will report in on the spending in the beginning of April. 🙂

  4. I try to avoid sugar laden foods most of the time but I must admit I do get cravings. I’d like to try the juicing / clean diet approach but what I really want to know is… Do you get really hungry while trying this approach? If I get hungry, I just give up and undo all the good work I’ve done!

    Congrats on the weight loss, 19lbs is amazing! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Really, Hayley, I don’t get hungry at all. Brown rice keeps you feeling full for a long while. And even while juicing, I rarely got hungry. If I did, I’d just grab a handful of nuts. Amazing!

  5. Thanks for teaching us about different diets. I definitely agree that diet has a huge impact on your life. I really need to pay more attention to it. We really don’t know what goes into our food nowadays. Processed and prepackaged foods are also so convenient…but just not good for you. I need to work on it.

    • Laurie says:

      And there is a “yum” factor to them as well. I have by and large lost all craving for sugar, but if someone put a bag of mega stuffed Oreos in my hand, who knows what I’d do, LOL. 🙂

  6. Great post! Now I just need to stay motivated and on track with healthy eating. I used to think working out was the hard part, but nowdays I think working out is much easier than eating right.

  7. The Stoic says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with this. How we eat can have a profound impact on our health and the way we feel as you have noticed first hand. I’ve been doing much better with eating “clean” and noticing the difference as well. It’s amazing the drug like effect that eating can have on our bodies and makes you wonder what damage is being done from sugar laden heavily processed foods that a lot of people consume. I hope to read more about your families experience with this as you gain more experience with it.

    Oh, and don’t worry about being “normal”. Normal has a pretty predictable outcome. It’s only when we begin to embrace “abnormal” that things start to get interesting. Here’s to hoping you become even more “abnormal”. 🙂

  8. I believe I can live for month or so by just having juices. I love mango, avocado, banana, melon juices. I’ve been enjoying reading diet-related posts of yours, Laurie, from Paleo diet to juicing. Thanks!

  9. Congrats, Laurie, on switching to a healthy diet and lifestyle that makes you feel so much better! I believe that the biggest secret about a better life lays in the few words that you wrote early on: eating real food. I think that is actually the real secret, and juicing or other similar diets are just different means to get there.

    I have personally been diagnosed with a fatty liver (close to level 2) back in August and it was then when I decided to completely change the way I live – I opted for a slightly modified Mediteranean diet which is based on eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible, a lot of fish and seafood and extra virgin olive oil and just a little red meat and sugars. I have completely removed fried foods from my diet, I am eating probably 90% less fat than I used to and probably 95% less sugar.

    I was obese and in 7 months – without going hungry – I lost 33 pounds, I feel a lot better overall and just yesterday I had my new tests: the doctor congratulated me and said that I am really close to being a completely healthy individual as almost all the fat in my liver in pancreas has gone away. My blood pressure is also close to normal levels and I will hopefully be able to stop taking medication for it altogether (went down from one pill to half and now just a quarter!)

    So even though people consider me crazy for eating healthy (not having a big cake at the end of the meal is, unfortunately, considered crazy by some), I will continue to live life like this: I feel better, the tests show that my body is in a much better condition than it was so it makes no sense not to. We do this for us because despite all our networth and money saved and things that we can own, it’s our own health that its the most valuable asset that we have 🙂

    So again, congratulations for making this work for you!

    • Laurie says:

      C., your comment brought happy tears to my eyes. You have taken control of your health and done what needed to be done, for yourself and for the sake of your family, and now it has paid off. I’m so proud of you, my friend. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, I had a sugar hangover the first day, but that was it. Now, it’s all good. 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Brian!

  10. Love this Laurie! We’ve not made the switch to clean eating – but we’ve made major strides and aren’t that far off from you guys (I like my chicken too much). We’ve noticed many of the same changes you have – from exponentially increased energy to far fewer mood swings and a few others. It’s funny, but all that processed junk and sugar just doesn’t hold the same appeal to me, which is so odd as that was how I was raised and how I lived so much of my life.

    The kicker is that we’ve both seen the impact this has on our kiddos. It helps them begin to see what real food is really like as opposed to always reaching for the food that will provide them nothing in value. That is what continues to drive us as we know how our changes are benefitting them. Nice work on the weight loss as well friend – it’s a great feeling, isn’t it? 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Yes, it is a great feeling! And hoping to hear your update too, BTW. 🙂 I hear you about the kids though – it’s amazing how much they’ve really taken to this clean eating stuff. Gotta love it!

  11. It’s incredible how diet has the power to change your life, and not only going from ‘unhealthy’ to reasonably healthy, or losing weight. I always get inspired when I hear things like this, but because I don’t ‘see’ any obvious issues like weight, I find it hard to get motivated to make such changes. But I am trying to slowly change some little habits, like going for healthier options for dessert 🙂 Who doesn’t want to feel better and have more energy!

    • Laurie says:

      Jason, I’d encourage you to try clean eating or mean green juicing for a week and see if you notice a difference. Or, watch the Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead documentary for a good eye-opener about how food can cause so much trouble. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Jayleen! Keep on trying. Integrate it slowly, or just do it yourself and set the example; maybe they’ll see your great results and follow. 🙂

  12. We don’t juice on a regular basis, but man do we feel great when we do.

    Back in 2012 we did a program call the 21-day reset that was actually really amazing. And now that I am writing this, it makes me think we should really consider it again.

    Its amazing how much less you eat too since everything is so nutrient dense.

    Glad this is working well for you guys.

    You know what they say, you are what you eat.

    Cheers!

  13. Love it! This is awesome, Laurie! And, the best part is that we’ve found it’s cheaper for us to eat this way too. We’re not super strict about it, but we rarely eat meat, dairy or packaged/processed foods. It’s all about the produce, beans, rice, etc for us. I haven’t given up sugar though… but I’m trying to make healthier baked goods for us, which I think is a step in the right direction 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      It’s definitely a step in the right direction. We’ve found that the more we stick to the macrobiotic plan, the less we desire sugar. We just don’t want it much anymore, which is nice. 🙂

  14. What a great testimonial! I need to check out “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead.” I’ve heard a lot about it but haven’t gotten around to seeing it. My wife and I gave up meat for Lent and honestly it’s been great having it out of our diet. It forces us to focus more on nutrition since we need to get protein elsewhere and plan meals more than we used to.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s great, DC! It does feel good to be meat free; you just feel, lighter, don’t you think? I’d be curious as to your opinion after you watch the documentary. It’s good!

  15. I’m so happy to hear how well you’re all feeling. Isn’t it amazing how much food can control how we feel? It makes total sense and we always say “you are what you eat” but when you really break it down and start making the changes, it absolutely changes the way you think about food. I’ve been trying to cut out processed crap and eat more fruits and veggies and I feel much healthier (and happier) then I was. All those processed carbs really were killing me (and my mood). Well done my friend!

    • Laurie says:

      “All those processed cards really were killing me (and my mood)”. It’s amazing how bad carbs can mess with a body, isn’t it? Glad to hear you’re eating well too, KK!

  16. I don’t follow the macrobiotic diet per se, but I do eat very cleanly. The only meat I eat is fish and lots of fresh, organic veggies and some fruit. I don’t eat much sugar but I don’t avoid it 100% either as I still occasionally indulge my love of dark chocolate. But only a couple bites! I’m glad you’re seeing such positive results!

    • Laurie says:

      That sounds like what we’re doing, Shannon. On rare occasions we’ll have meat, dairy and sugar, but mostly not. Indulging in the junk on occasion is fun, but it’s always nice to get back to the clean eating. 🙂

  17. catherine says:

    Love this. We have a pretty good diet but there is a ton of room for improvment. I’m slowly making changes (steel cut oats instead of other cereal options sort of thing) (I do have a three year old and semi-picky husband) but we’re getting there. One of my favorite quotes is ” instead of questioning why healthy food is so expensive, question why junk food is so cheap”.

  18. I’ve started to blend fruits and veggies in the morning to make a smoothie instead of eating a heavy breakfast and my energy has skyrocketed. It’s so important to your day to day life to eat a clean diet!

  19. This is amazing, Laurie! 19 lbs? Wow! I eat mostly vegetarian and occasionally eat fish. But I love cheese and ice cream. 🙁 It’s totally my weakness. But I’m trying to stick to veggies, fish, and green smoothies with some fruit.

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