Staying motivated to eat clean consistently

how to eat clean consistently even when you don't want to

There are a couple of questions that I get asked a lot about my eating style, including…

  • How do you eat SO many veggies?
  • Do you ever cheat/eat junk/splurge?
  • How do you manage to eat clean so consistently? 

My answer to the veggie question is pretty simple – I’ve got a ferocious appetite and if I’m hungry, watch out! Although I could choose to fill up on a bunch of foods that most people would consider ‘junk’, I’ve learned over my clean eating years that those things might taste good at the time but they leave me feeling like crap afterwards. The awesome thing about whole foods is that they taste great and leave me with a ton of energy afterwards, so I’ve learned to choose them rather than their less-attractive alternatives.

baby heirloom tomatoes

This sort of leads into the answer to the third question. My 70lb weight loss happened in my late teens, and learning how to eat clean, paired with physical exercise, got me to that result. After that, it became about maintaining my happy weight (which I consider more of a feeling than an actual number) and – surprise, surprise – I’ve done that using the same strategy. Having witnessed the results, seen and felt the way my body operates on healthy foods, that’s more than enough incentive for me to keep going.

eggs chard and fresh herbs

But…

I know that sometimes it’s tough. I don’t claim to be a perfect clean eater 100% of the time, and I know that some of those struggles I’ve been through are the same as those you might be facing now. So that’s why I’ve got 7 tips to help keep your motivation levels riding high.

mixing ingredients for Heirloom Baby Tomato, Cucumber and Quinoa Salad

1. Write down how awesome you feel after a whole foods-based meal

…. and on the flipside, how crappy you feel after eating meals full of sodium, sugar, processed or refined ingredients. It might sound silly, but the next time you’re tempted to over-indulge, read what you’ve written and then make your decision.

2. Keep some inspirational images visible

Whether it’s on your desktop wallpaper, your fridge, your bedroom or bathroom mirror – wherever you happen to visit frequently. I’m a highly visual learner – I like pictures, charts, photos, diagrams, mind maps, and all that sort of stuff (hence the reason I make a vision board each year, and part of the motivation behind my Gorgeous Guide to Goal Conquering.)  On my fridge you’ll find a few pictures of athletes that inspire me and remind me that results require hard work. (Of course, it’s very important to realize that these people have been touched up for their photoshoots and don’t really look like that all the time in real life.) Also on the fridge are print-outs of my race entries, and keeping these events top of mind affects how I fuel my body. I’ve found this to be enormously effective in keeping myself on-track, and it could work for you too.

2014 vision board - Eat Spin Run Repeat

3. Get enough sleep

This is one you’ve probably heard before, but it’s SO easy to think we’re hungry when really, we’re just tired. How many times have you found yourself sitting at your desk or computer trying to crank out that last bit of work, and reaching for that bag of chips, box of crackers, bag of nuts or gummies in order to help get you through? Sometimes burning the midnight oil has to be done, but falling into a habit of mindless snacking while you do it is dangerous. If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest late at night and a snack craving seems to hit, it might just be time for bed!

4. Make your food interesting

One of my main missions with this blog is to prove that healthy tastes delicious. A few pieces of iceberg lettuce with a slice of tomato and a couple of cucumbers does not constitute a salad, and eating clean does not require endless hours in the kitchen. I love experimenting with recipes, and the prospect of coming up with an unexpected yet delicious combination of ingredients gives me a little foodie endorphin high. By trying new-to-you whole foods, you’ll avoid falling into ruts where you no longer feel excited about eating clean. Get on Pinterest, read clean eating blogs, and be inspired by all the bright colours.

Tuna and Quinoa Tabbouleh - Eat Spin Run Repeat

5. Keep looking back at your progress

I’ve shared my weight loss story in the past and you can find a summary of it on my About page, but one of the things that kept me going through my entire journey was looking back at how far I’d come already. If weight loss is a goal of yours, hang on to some of those  clothes that are too big for you, or look at a picture of you then compared to one of you now. Sometimes we don’t notice our own progress because we see ourselves every day, but other things like clothing and photos can help us to see these things more clearly. Sure, you may not be able to run a half marathon yet, but maybe you can run 5K and just the thought of it at this time last year made you start to sweat.

running at rice lake, north vancouver

6. Find other clean eaters (or aspiring ones) for mutual support

This one is obvious and probably a tip you’d expected before you even read this post, but it’s popular for a reason – it works. In fact, reading blogs of foodies like you are right now is evidence that you’re already putting this into practice! By having another person in your life who is also doing their best to eat clean consistently, it gives you someone to be accountable to when your lazy self wants to just order takeout, or when you’re tempted to eat more of x, y or z (insert trigger food here). It also gives you someone to celebrate with, to exchange recipes with, and to share in the excitement when you find a fantastic new-to-you thing.

hard boiled egg with shells

7. Experiment with swapping your favourite less-nutritious foods for healthier options so you don’t feel deprived

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’re probably familiar with some of the ingredients that I swap in and out of recipes to either lighten them up or make them more nutritious. Here are a few of my favourites, and links to recipes that use them:

  • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese instead of cream, sour cream, and mayonnaise
  • Whole grain flour instead of white all-purpose flour
  • Crushed whole grain crackers instead of breadcrumbs

Coconut Crusted Tofu with Bok Choy and Mushrooms - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Pho - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Protein Squares - Eat Spin Run Repeat

  • Any dark leafy green instead of iceberg lettuce (It’s sad, but the ‘berg really doesn’t have much going for it!)
  • Natural nut butter instead of nut butters with sugar and other added ingredients
  • Stevia instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • Whole grain rice or quinoa instead of white rice and couscous

Heirloom Tomato, Cucumber and Quinoa Salad - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Big Fat Nori Wraps - Eat Spin Run Repeat

And lastly, let’s think back to that thought about proving that healthy food is delicious….

Double Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait - Eat Spin Run Repeat

This Double Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait is a variation of the chia pudding parfait that I posted last week. In that post, I also introduced Vega’s #OneChange campaign, but ever since, I haven’t been able to stop with the darn chia seeds! With just 5 ingredients, this recipe makes a delicious healthy breakfast or snack while also providing an amazing nutritional punch. If you crave chocolate often, this will definitely tame that craving!

Double Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Double Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait

by Angela Simpson

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 0 mins

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk or water
  • 1 packet chocolate Vega One
  • 1 tsp raw cacao (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • 1 packet stevia (optional)
  • 1 cup raspberries

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine all ingredients except for the raspberries and optional granola. Stir to combine and set the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes (or overnight).
  • The chia seeds will absorb the almond milk and create a thick mixture. Remove the bowl from the fridge and give it a good stir.
  • In glasses, mason jars, or bowls, layer the chia seed mixture with raspberries.
  • Note: If you prefer to make these as on-the-go breakfasts or snacks, pack the layers into jars and seal with a lid. It will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Click here to print the recipe.

Double Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait - Eat Spin Run Repeat

[Tweet “How to #eatclean consistently (plus a Double Chocolate Chia Parfait #recipe!)”]

So tell me…

  • What are some things that make it difficult for you to remain consistent with your nutritional goals?
  • What are the things that keep you motivated to keep going?

How to eat clean consistently, even when you're lacking motivation and don't want to - Eat Spin Run Repeat

36 thoughts on “Staying motivated to eat clean consistently

  1. Great post, Angela! And perfect timing too…I fell off the bandwagon this weekend with a night of beer indulgence and Golden Griddle in the morning. The nice thing about clean eating 90% of the time is that you REALLY feel it when you aren’t eating healthy…I HAD to make a kale salad and peppermint tea as soon as I came home!

    I also think you’re on the right track when you begin to have consistent cravings for healthy foods. If you’ve reached that point, you’ve come a long way and deserve a gold star!

  2. I have been moving more and more towards clean eating. But this girl admittedly still loves her junk. One of the things I started doing was limiting those treats to after my races. Its a celebration and I like it to be yummy so I don’t feel deprived. But my body gets all the right foods and fuel the majority of the time!

  3. This is a great post with so many delicious looking foods! I try to eat clean/healthy – and am successful most of the time, especially since I feel so good when I eat that way 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Great post!!!

    I find unless I take time to meal plan and grocery shop I fall off track.

    Sleep is so so important though. You are right. I find myself craving stuff I would normally never eat when I’m tired. I have to make that more of a priority for me!

    Thanks Angela!

    Leah

    1. I’m totally the same way, Leah! I think a lot of people discount it as less important than fitness and nutrition but it has been so crucial for me in managing stress, cravings, and improving my ability to concentrate and focus. Thanks for commenting!

  5. What wonderful tips and amazing swap suggestions. My biggest struggle is definitely the variety. I tend to get in ruts and have a hard time getting out of them. I have actually been experimenting with chia pudding recipes lately, so I am super excited to try the one you just posted!

    1. I hope you enjoy it, Lauren! the possibilities are endless with this one when you think about the different types of fruit and superfoods to mix in – I like adding pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and sometimes a bit of spirulina or chlorella powder to give it an extra punch of nutrition. let me know if you come up with any wonderful combos!

  6. I love this post because it puts into words what I would always love to say to people that ask me all those questions. Also, that pudding recipe looks delicious – I’ll have to give it a go!

  7. I try to eat as cleanly as possible. I am finding that I can go on about a three week streak and never want any sugar. Then all of a sudden, it’s all I can think about. This past week was that carving point, some honey and I was good to go. I probably won’t crave it again for another three weeks:)

    I love reading different blogs and cookbooks for new ideas. Usually when I start craving sugar, I have been eating the same things over and over. Changing up my menu helps keep my taste buds happy:)

    1. That’s great that you’re able to satisfy your craving with a natural source of sugar, rather than give into processed foods, Carol! And I totally hear you on the different blogs and cookbooks. I’ve got more cookbooks than I do fiction books in my house and I love going to them for inspiration every time I feel like I’m falling into a rut. Sounds like a great strategy you’ve got there!

  8. Good advice, thanks. I definitely go in and out of being motivated unfortunately, mostly because I have a sweet tooth for pastries. When I’m good I’lll make a healthy version at home. My big motivator though is to keep out anything I know isn’t good for me. If it’s not around I can’t eat it (without a lot more effort).

  9. Great list of reminders! I always strive to eat as clean as possible because it makes me feel so much better! Eating clean goes hand in hand with exercising consistently. If I’m exercising I want to eat better to have the energy to get through tough workouts! I also think about how the food I eat affects my digestion.

    1. Amen to that! Digestion has been an issue for me over the past 6 months and I totally agree with what you said. When my digestion is thrown off, it can totally throw off all desires to do anything, and exercise has also been a huge factor in improving it – isn’t it funny (and clever) how these things are so connected? Thanks for sharing, Nikki! 🙂

  10. I can defiantly relate! I started eating clean about 4 months ago, and one of the first things I did was subscribe to other blogs that had great recipes without feeling deprived. I also unsubscribed to blogs with sugary/carby recipes (for the most part) because I just didn’t want to be tempted. now I look and know that I would feel like junk if I ate them

  11. Amazing post, my dear!

    This is exactly the motivation I needed this week. Headed back into heavy training weeks with too little sleep did not do anything for my diet, so it is amazing to have these tricks and tips up my sleeve this week.

    Also, I MUST try that pudding. Looks amazing and I have a bag of chia seeds waiting to be used up!

  12. Hi Angela,

    Looks like a great recipe for the parfait. I’m gonna try to make it, but don’t have any Vega 1. Could I substitute some protein powder instead? If so, how many ml/g/oz are in the one packet of Vega 1 you mentioned in the ingredients for the recipe?

    Thanks,

    ~Corinna

    1. Hi Corinna! Yep you certainly could sub in some protein powder. A serving of Vega One tends to be a bit larger in volume than most protein powders I’ve used (I think the average scoop of whey protein is about 30g), so start with a little less liquid in this recipe and add it gradually after letting the pudding sit for a bit. The chia seeds will soak up a ton of liquid and create a thicker consistency, but you don’t want to add too much to the point that it gets runny. Try mixing in about half of the quantity of liquid called for, then add more from there if you like. Hope that helps, and let me know how you get on!

  13. Angela, I love ALL of these. I especially identify with #5 right now — looking back at your progress to see where you have come from. Whenever it gets difficult to keep on trucking ahead, a little look at how far you’ve come does wonders. I just experienced this the other day when writing a “Before & After” freelance article, and I was pretty much shocked at the progress that has happened over the last year without my realizing it every day. Keep up the good work, darling! I just discovered your blog and I will definitely be back to check it out more often 🙂 xo, Jordan

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