Creating a Long Term, Healthy Relationship with Clean Eating

During the first week of January, I shared a post called 3 Ways to Create a Longterm, Healthy Relationship with Exercise. I wanted to share that post because so many people push hard in January and lose that motivation as each month goes on. I see so many people decide to kick off their exercise goals but rarely stick to them and that’s often because of mindset. If your only goal is to lose weight or be skinny or gain weight or get huge…well motivation can often be lost when those goals aren’t attained quickly. OR if life throws a wrench in your plan and some of those attained goals are lost. But the thing is, exercise should be a part of everyones life. It can sometimes feel tough or not be at the top of your to-do list, but just like brushing your teeth, it’s something you need to do daily. Physical activity is so important.

And when I shared this post, someone asked me to do the same post but this time about eating clean. And just like exercise, making healthy choices when it comes to what you put in your mouth day after day, well it can be tough. In the world we live in now, there are constant temptations, easier choices, and fast fixes. Which all can making clean eating day after day, month after month and year after year, seem pretty daunting. We are a society that is given instant gratification every day. So the thought of creating our own meals every day can seem exhausting when it’s easier to quickly grab our food in minutes in a drive-thru. I get it. But if we look at our American society as a whole, we are getting bigger and sicker by the minute. And if we don’t face the fact that it’s what we are putting into our bodies, we may never be able to turn our health around. Just like exercise, clean eating is something we should be doing day in and day out. Because clean eating is so incredibly important.

Now before I get in to how I keep my diet in check day after day, I want to take a quick stroll down memory lane. Because I use to eat SH*T. I drank Mountain Dew daily, I went to Taco Bell all the time, I ate at Cinnabon, Dairy Queen, McD’s, and Olive Garden most weeks, and I constantly purchased cookie pies from the grocery store and ate it all to myself. I was an emotional eating sh*t show. But like most people out there, I didn’t know any better. I was never raised to understand what kind of food I should be putting in my body and why. And it wasn’t until I found CrossFit, I read Robb Wolf’s book, and I had Loren Cordain as a professor, that I finally started to put all the puzzle pieces together and understand what clean food actually does for our bodies. And with knowledge comes power. And that power I felt inside was the first stepping stone to creating a life for myself filled with delicious food that made me feel my absolute best. Aka PaleOMG!

So let’s face some facts here. At this point in time, eating clean is more challenging than how most Americans eat. It’s easier to order pizza, pick up burgers or eat Chinese food while binging on Netflix. What isn’t as easy is planning out meals for the week, grocery shopping, prepping the meals, cooking the meals and serving your family who may be complaining about not getting fast food. That sucks. It’s harder and it’s more frustrating. But it’s worth it long term. Remember that. Great things don’t come to those who take the easy road. And let me tell you, you’re pretty damn great. So let’s start with 3 steps today to make tomorrow healthier. That way you can take these steps daily and these steps will become habits and habits will become your new lifestyle. And before you know it, you’ll feel like the best version of yourself

  • Step 1: Failing to plan is planning to fail.
    • How many times have you heard this quote in your life? Hopefully a lot. I know I’ve said it so many times on this blog because it resonates so deeply with me. Do you want to fail? Hell no. So start planning. Plan your meals, plan your grocery shopping, plan your days. The more you plan for what’s ahead, the more likely you’ll be able to stick with your clean eating.
    • Not only does this include planning your meals at home, but plan your life outside of your home. If you’re going on vacation and eating out a lot, do your research. Figure out restaurants you can eat at, grocery stores where you can find your favorite products, and healthy snacks to bring along the way.
  • Step 2: Recognize how you feel.
    • Once you begin to eat clean on a regular basis, it’s pretty evident how terrible processed food and most restaurant/fast food is for you all based on how you feel when you eat it. Recognize that. If your body is rejecting the cheese crust pizza you’re eating and the beer you’re washing it down with, well maybe it’s time to reconsider those foods.
    • The more you recognize how your body processes certain foods, the less you will crave the foods that make you feel like sh*t.
  • Step 3: Balance is key.
    • No where in this post am I telling you to eat paleo or keto or count your points or blocks or follow any specific diet. I’m telling you clean eating is the way to go. And clean eating looks different to everyone since we are all so incredibly different. Clean eating also means still enjoying life. Enjoying the holidays, enjoying some drinks on a date, enjoying your grandma’s Christmas cookies, enjoying food when you travel. And yes, you can still enjoy those things while eating clean most of the time.
    • Balance also means you may have to face the fact that grandma’s Christmas cookies make you feel uncomfortably bloated or drinks on a date have you feeling too depressed the next day. And maybe those things aren’t worth it. Finding your own balance also comes by recognizing how you feel and deciding if it’s worth it or not.

If you can start planning out more of your meals, recognizing how food makes you feel, and finding balance in what you consume day after day, you’ll begin to create a healthy relationship with food that truly lasts. It’s not about perfection, it’s not about some 30 day challenge that has you in a frenzy by day 31. It’s about finding a long term, healthy relationship with food where you can enjoy what you’re eating and enjoy the moments with your friends and family along the way. There is freedom from counting and worrying and obsessing. It may just take a little time and some self reflection to get to that point. I hope this helps you on your own path to clean eating and feeling like the best version of yourself in 2019!

Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


33 thoughts on “Creating a Long Term, Healthy Relationship with Clean Eating”

  1. Juli,

    Thank you so much for this post!!!! These healthy relationship posts are amazing and might be my favorite. They are so helpful and reliable and relatable and make life so much easier, they are like little life guides. Thank you for another great relationship post!!


  2. Thank you so much! As a young PALEOMG reader and highschooler I often struggle with finding healthy alternatives for after workout snacks & breakfast, generally because its soooo easy to grab a sugary protein bar. This post has really made me want to rethink my next food decisions! 🙂

  3. Just what I needed today! I just reflected on January the other day and realized that although I have included more exercise into my routine, I am still struggling with the food aspect. My addiction to shitty food is real. And what you posted really made me realize that it’s a constant decision. Reflecting on my food choices, for me, is something that should maybe be a daily occurrence as I am forming healthier habits and relationships with food. I also have realized that stress really throws me overboard so I’m going to try to focus on some every day stress relievers. (ie: exercise, journaling, mindfullness, etc). It’s all a journey and thank you for being a positive aspect of it all!!!

    1. stress is definitely a trigger for most people and they turn to food to ease those feelings. i use to be like that as well and continually make excuses for myself in those stressful times. but it only makes things worse and more stressful. good work reflecting and remembering how important mindfulness is during those situations

  4. Can you do a podcast with Jessie Golden. I worked with her the past 2 months and she helped my relationship with food so much!!

  5. juli these posts lately have been so real, thanks so much for sharing. your talent really shines with posts like this 🙂

  6. Definitely going to implement these key points into my mindset. I travel for work months at a time and stay in hotels on the reg. I have come to realize that if I go out to a restaurant I am more likely to order french fries, hella potatoes, or order a sugary sangria. I would love to go grocery shopping when I get to my destination, but my hotels do not always have a kitchen area to cook. Do you suggest meal prepping when I am home on the weekends and packing everything in a cooler? As much FUN as that sounds, I really don’t want to cook all day long on a Sunday haha. BUT I also understand, ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

    Thank you for being authentically YOU!! I love listening to your podcast and seeing pictures of your sweet little panda. Thanks for all your hard work girl!!

    1. when i was traveling constantly for book tour and had no kitchen, i would often go to whole foods and get something from the hot bar or their sushi. so if that’s possible for you, i would recommend that. but if you’re traveling to tiny towns without a whole foods, you may have to go the meal prepping route. sure, it may not be exactly what you want on a Sunday, but i personally don’t want to work on Sundays and I do every Sunday because I HAVE to. if you want to eat better and feel better, you may HAVE to cook Sundays. and the more you cook, the easier it will get and there is a big chance it won’t take all day, especially with some of my recipes!

  7. I think this is one of the best, most important, posts you have ever made! It is always a work in (a very forgiving) process. Know better, do better. Live and enjoy. Made my day. 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for this post! Im overweight, eat like crap, have IBS that is out of control, and I am still so invested in these bad foods I have trouble finding my way out.

    I always have wanted to go paleo, that’s how I found this site, but I find that when I make these abrupt transitions, I can never stick to it. What are your thoughts about how to transition in a way that promotes sticking with it? I feel like subtle transition can lead to still feeling bad on the foods which make you want to not eat well at all cause you still feel bad. Any thoughts are welcome!

    1. i’ve been there Caitlyn. it was a really hard transition for me at first. and i continually went back to those bad foods on weekends, but by Monday I would feel like total crap. so after a while, i finally got fed up with feeling like that and decided to stop making those poor decisions on weekends. what helped me start was making small substitutions in my normal habits. i first started making an open faced sandwich instead of a sandwich with two pieces of bread, then after i while, I felt like i didn’t need the other piece of bread anymore. or for breakfast, instead of having my normal cereal, i started making oatmeal, then moved to smoothies, then to bacon and eggs. it was these small transitions that helped me make better and better decisions each month. and with those changes, you’ll begin to feel the changes internally and have more drive to stick with them. that’s at least how it was for me. in a couple weeks, i’ll be sharing substitutions and alternatives to products we know and love, in hopes of helping with those stepping stones. i hope all this makes sense and helps Caitlyn!! addiction to bad foods is real and it’s hard to cut that relationship off, but it IS possible!

  9. My local newspaper has been running ads lately by some stop-smoking prescription which say that the average person will quit smoking 30 times before they succeed. I feel like I have quit sugar more than 300 times, and perhaps this time I am succeeding. Really eating clean is the hardest thing. I don’t want to waste a precious weekend day, so I have recently decided that Mondays will be my shopping and prepping day (I’m an at-home mom). I sit my toddler down in front of his weekly dose of youtube (that stuff is like crack for kids, I’m not even kidding!) and spend 3 hours in the kitchen cooking and prepping for the week. It’s made a big difference in how much time I have to spend in the kitchen the rest of the week, and I spend a lot less time wondering what we should eat. I’ve been committed to clean eating for a long time, but I have found the combination of mindful prepping, and the strength to stay away from sugar, have made a big difference for me.

  10. You’ve inspired me to get to my meal planning TODAY instead of waiting until Sunday and therefore eat shit all day Saturday! Thanks Juli!

  11. I’m thankful for this post as I was just traveling and really struggled keeping my foods in check. I’ve been following you for awhile now and your recipes make eating clean so much easier. Thanks. I’m also realizing I saw you at Just Be Kitchen a few weeks ago and got too anxious to say hi. I couldn’t even think of what I’d say. But if I could, I’d tell you how thankful I am to have you as a resource in my fitness and paleo journey. Eating paleo has literally changed my life as my health has improved. And thanks for introducing me to Just Be Kitchen. I tell my husband every weekend I want to go there! Haha. You rock Juli!

    1. omg you should have said hi!! but i’m at just be almost every day so you’ll have to say hi next time you see me in there! thanks for all the love, i’m so glad i could be a positive part of your life in some small way!

  12. ThankYOU for this post!! I started Paleo in 2014 and I really did feel great!! Then all the s^&t hit the fan and I fell off. I need to start out slow again and get the hubby on board too. Thats a bit tough?I am going to look into Rob Wolf’s book for sure. I have your PaleOMG cook book and love all the recipes.

    1. you got this Mary Anne!! i think explaining to your husband how important it is to you is always helpful for the spouse to hear and understand.

  13. Gotta agree with all the comments above about how much I’m loving these real, practical, health and mindset related posts this year, Juli!! They resonate 🙂 Keep it up and keep sharing – your writing is relatable and down to earth and refreshingly NOT dogmatic! <3

  14. I have a bad relationship with food and need to get to the root of the issue. Thank you for such a great post because you really did put into perceive for me.

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