Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Cheer and Clean Eating

On Monday night Nick and I listened to Christmas music, drank hot cocoa, and put up our fake tree. Yeah, you read that correctly, FAKE! This was our first year doing fake, but our apartment won't let us have a real tree :( We were both pretty disappointed, but we figured fake is better than nothing at all.

Here are some of our favorite ornaments.....

Of course we have OSU Buckeye ornaments, and some other fun ones from vacations and family friends.

I love this one, it's Santa on a gondola in Italy. My father and his mother are from the same part of Italy, and her maiden name is Casa, while my last name is Casagrande!

Finished product! This tree is currently packed with tons of gifts, all from me. Nick works a lot more so he does all his shopping at the last minute. Not me!

What is Clean Eating?
Source: Today's Dietitian Magazine

- Main principles focus on choosing whole fruits and vegetables, in their natural state, and also lean meat, fish, and poultry; beans and legumes; low fat dairy products; and whole grains from a variety of food sources.
My thoughts: This just sounds like a healthy diet plan to me, no? I think most "clean eaters" don't eat frozen vegetables. I couldn't live without my frozen veggies. Who says frozen vegetables are any less clean than fresh anyway? They are just boiled, blanched, froze, and put into a bag!

- Meals are high in fiber, low in fat, calories, and sugar
My thoughts: again, isn't this just eating healthy?

- Some off limit ingredients include high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, margarines, trans fat, artificial colors and flavors, and unnecessary food additives such as salt, sugar and corn syrup.
My thoughts: I hate the words "off limit" when it comes to food. This is when I would get in trouble. When I was anorexic, many foods were "off limit", but then when I brought them back into my life I couldn't get enough! Secretly I wanted them so bad. Now I know how to choose those "off limit" foods in moderation, and enjoy them when I want to! Plus, how fun is it to live life knowing that you can't eat any food with added salt or sugar? No going out to eat for you!

Give up having a piece of this every once in a while? No thanks.

- Clean eating does not permit fried foods or foods that are covered in olive oil, honey, or salt
My thoughts: Same as above, the "off limit" thing just doesn't appeal to me. If I want to get a side of fries with my sandwich every once in a while, I will.

What's wrong with eating a salty restaurant meal every once in a while? I gave myself props on this particular night out, for ordering fish and having a vegetable with my meal. It was salty, but a much better choice than some of the other options.

- Clean eaters usually eat frequent meals, dividing them into five or six daily occasions.
My thoughts: I think this is a great strategy. This prevents people from eating too much at one time, which can have a negative effect on hormones, bloating, and mood in my opinion.

- The clean eating philosophy maintains that regular physical activity, about 5-6 times per week, is necessary.
My thoughts: Obviously I can't argue with this one

There are many benefits of clean eating, says the article, such as environmental benefits, saving money (buying fresh can be much cheaper than those processed, pre-cooked, packaged foods), focusing on quality rather than quantity, and improvements in health. But I'm not sold on the "Clean Eating" philosophy. I think many of the ideas behind it are great, but personally I don't want to have to think that much about my food choices. I already read the labels fairly closely and pay a lot of attention to what I put in my mouth, but I think this is somewhat extreme. I like my frozen vegetables and canned soups on occasion! And, who could give up fried food 100%? Who would want to do that? Not me!

What are your thoughts on clean eating? Would you stick to such a strict regimen, or would you rather do what I do and try to eat healthy and "Clean" as much as you can, but not let rules hold you back all the time?

Special thanks to the Foodie over at Fab and Delicious Food for my giveaway prize! I am planning on being nice and stress-free from the spa package I received. Also, thanks to Rebecca of Chow and Chatter for my blog award :)

Stay tuned for my next post, which of course will be my LAST Biggest Loser review of the season. Did you watch?! Thanks for reading everyone, and have a great day!


  1. I share your perspective on Clean Eating. I eat 5-6 times a day and try to follow the 90% clean eating rule of thumb (meaning only about 10% processed food a week). I still have my; artificial sweeteners. But, like you, nothing is off limits...especially thing like those yummy chocolate chip cookie bars!

  2. I really totally agree with you. I also hate the term off limits. Really? What is that all about. Why is it that only dietitians know that all foods are ok in moderation. When was the last time a piece of birthday cake (yes, one piece once a year) killed someone. It drives me nuts that some people will not even enjoy just a small piece of cake for their birthday. Well, I gotta head back to the middle school, there is a holiday music concert today. Oh, and I love your FAKE tree. I don't celebrate Christmas, but I can appreciate the hard work everyone puts into their decorations. Leaving them up for months though drives me nuts. My old neighbors still had some up like in march.

  3. I love the tree! It's looks great! I"m with you - I think it's incredibly rare to have someone on a diet with the term "off-limits" and have it last long-term!

  4. Personally, I would describe clean eating as a food philosophy, not a diet. I know that is NOW no longer true, as it has become overly complicated and explained to death. But clean eating, to me, is eating foods in their most natural state, and eating a variety of them. That's it. Easy. But society has to complicate everything.

    That being said, I have never claimed to be a clean eater, haha, I love veggie burgers and soy nuggets. And I also rely heavily on frozen veg. Oh, and I like sugar too. But I do what I can.

    We have a fake tree too. My Nick has always had a fake tree, and that is what he wanted. It is fairly convenient to just pull it out of the closet and put it up...but its not the same. Once we get a house, I am going to convert him, hahaha. He doesn't know that yet. We also have those same candy cane ornaments...exactly the same, since we have the same names! They were place settings at Nick's grandmother's house a few Christmases ago.

  5. I appreciate this post because I really did not know exactly what "Clean Eating" was. I'd say I eat relatively clean, but even with my stomach problems I do not 100 % restrict anything, I just eat in moderation and sometimes in VERY small moderation.

    I totally agree with you that you will never stick to anything that completely restricts. Especially when you can't go to restaurants or enjoy a nice baked good every once in awhile.

  6. I love this post. I actually really dislike the term 'clean' eating. It drives me batty. I prefer something like 'lifestyle' instead.

  7. Love the tree! We do not have enough space for a big tree in our tiny condo. I will have to settle for a "table top" tree.
    I totally agree with you on the "Clean Eating". Sounds like eating healthy with zero indulgences. I could never give up baked desserts or fried foods completely!

  8. oh! i'm so excited for your bl post :) i didn't watch the wholee thing BUT i'm going to watch it soon and i saw the last half hr so i know who won

    i'm a fan of the clean eating idea. minus the olive oil and other rules like that but i think for the most part i do eat clean! lots of fresh produce and whole grains and if that's not clean eating compared to most people well the tosca reno or whatever he name is can bite me hahaha whoa that was a little intense

    i love love love love love love love xmas ornaments!

  9. I find all of these books to be common sense. Maybe it's just me, but....?
    YAY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

  10. Your tree is adorable. I like that the ornaments all have a special meaning to you. Very cool!

    I always associated "clean eating" with bodybuilders. I'm not sure why exactly,but I think it's because all the guys at my gym would talk about how they had to go on their clean diet before competitions. It just stuck in my head. I figure if I eat healthy 85% of the time, I'll be okay. Life's to short to deprive yourself.

    Have a great day Gina!

  11. Gina! What Christmas fun! Tree is definitely better than no tree!

    Clean eating I like the philosophy--a lot--in fact. BUT, personally I believe you need to be able to live a little bit and enjoy foods and 100% believe NOTHING should be off limits! So--I agree with you! A modified version of clean eating is my philosophy--90% true and tried healthy and 10% your call :) You gotta live!

    Great Post!

  12. Beautiful tree & ornaments! I especially love the Santa on a gondola and the story behind it! :)

    I think it's a great idea to strive to eat clean most of the time. But I don't think it's a good idea to label things "off limit." I agree, it can get you into trouble very easily...

    I didn't see The Biggest Loser, but I'm looking forward to your recap! :)

  13. I enjoy your tree. I had a fake one growing up EVERY year and it always looked beautiful! Hey, its less mess and re-usable.. sounds good to me!

    I like to say I eat clean BUT that does not mean I dont consume processed foods (veggie burgers, pretzels, soups etc) at times. In general, though my intake is primarily fruits and veggies and grains and legumes sooo I suppose Im kinda clean. The only things that are truly "off limit" to me are meat and dairy (due to my bod NOT likin them).. other than that I have NO off limit foods. I eat what Im craving!

  14. I love your tree - why won't your apartment let you have a real one? We don't get a tree; we aren't home for Christmas and figure it is better to save the money.

    I try to eat as "cleanly" as possible but I do hate the term "off limits." I do the best I can!

  15. awww i love your tree and the decorating!! that looks like great bonding time with yo man :)

    i try to eat clean-its hard in college BUT this post made me wana go grab a peice of fruit!! haha

  16. Love the tree decorations! I can't wait to get/decorate my tree!

    I actually like the "clean eating" idea, however I agree that it's really pretty much just a "healthy eating diet". So similar to eating a healthy, balanced diet, I think the clean eating diet could be utilized but with a few exceptions, such as the occasional indulgence here and there (which is pretty much how I eat on my normal "healthy eating" diet, so I kind of agree that this concept isn't that new/overly great). However, I think this may help those who don't have a well balanced diet move towards eating a healthier, more environmental friendly diet.

  17. AWWW I love your tree! so pretty

    chickie did you see BL last night? ((((gasp))))

  18. I'm glad you did a post about clean eating because I've always been confused about the true definition. I could never follow a completely clean diet. I looove olive oil and tend to support the Mediterranean Diet.

  19. I think the definition of clean eating varies, a lot.

    To me, clean eating is basically a way to phrase healthy eating to myself: not a lot of processed foods, lots of whole grains, fruit and vegetables.

    I definitely eat frozen vegetables, olive oil and salt!

    I'm not a fan of the phrases "limit" or "not permit". As soon as I try to avoid something, that's exactly what I want ;-)

  20. Great post. I try to avoid the artificial ingredients and stick with fresh foods but not all of the time! I agree that avoiding it completely would lead to a binge. Oh and olive oil is healthy to me. I chew too much gum to be a clean eater 100% lol.

  21. oh my gosh. biggest loser was so good!

    I try to do clean eating. no processed foods for me! ( or are at least very limited!! )
    i do use splenda tho:)

    i LOVE your christmas photos! gorgeous!!

  22. I agree that even though I don't eat fried food ALL the time, I like the option of having them once in a while... sweet potato fries... yum!

    I am confused though... when the article says "Clean eating does not permit fried foods or foods that are covered in olive oil, honey, or salt" Does it mean foods that are greasy as in resturant food or salad with olive oil as the dressing a no-no? Honey? Really? I love honey I don't think I can give it up..

    Thanks for the review.

  23. I agree with all of your points. I don't like anything being off-limits. And I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I really knew nothing about true "clean eating" until reading this. I guess I got a real lesson in clean eating. The biggest struggle I would have with clean eating would be the frozen fruits/vegetables. Stick a fork in me, I'm done! I love me some frozen veggies! So convenient and healthy (in my opinion!!). Great post, girl..and love the tree!

  24. Your christmas tree is awesome! Looks fabulous.
    I agree with alot of the points you were making about clean eating. I dont like having foods that are off limits either. I think foods that are high in sugar and artifical colors, things like that..should just be eaten in moderation. I like to save these for a treat! I dont think there is anything wrong with frozen veggies. They are awesome when you are short on time! My mantra is just eat mainly fruits and veggies, everything else in moderation and workout consistently, get enough rest and you will be a-ok!=) Have a good one!

  25. For the most part, I like the philosophy of "Clean Eating." I think it's good to make sure your diet includes lots of "real" food, lots of fruits & veggies. But I don't think we have to be 100% perfect all the time. Sometimes you want to splurge. Or maybe for whatever reason you do not have perfectly "clean" options available so you make the best choice you can.

    But I guess maybe some people needs definite rules. Whatever works for ya!

  26. That is the saddest thing I've heard today, that your apartment doesn't allow a real tree! That's crazy ba hum bug scrooginess!

  27. Gina, great insight as always. I personally don't like using words like you "can't have" I like using words like you "can have this". I personally fell in love with my herbalife program because it was easy to have two shakes and then one meal where I eat whatever I wanted.

  28. I don't think it would be realistic to be a 'clean eater' ALL of the time. Some people do it, but it would be really inconvenient when going out to restaurants, family dinners etc. Everything in moderation has always been key!

  29. Glad you like your prize package! I have another giveaway on my blog if you or any of your readers are interested - it's for a Plan a Meal bundle!

    Love the Christmas tree and all the ornaments!

    I don't think I have any ingredients/foods that are off limits. There are ingredients that I try to avoid most of the time, such as high fructose corn syrup, but I do like to have donuts, cookies, and soda sometimes, which have it. But I don't feel guilty about it - I just try to have them in moderation.

  30. I like that you posted the info about what clean eating really is, I think of it like what body builders eat before a big show, to avoid excess water/bulge with the added salt/sugar.

    I think I eat an 80 % clean diet- but with natural sugar like maple syrup and honey. But yes, indulging is necessary for a foodie. Restaurant meals with the SALT?! Couldn't live without them.

    Although I believe I do eat pretty "cleanly"- I don't like labels either, because I probably also eat a high gluten-free, dairy free diet as well, but I may have a sandwich once a week, or a bowl of greek yogurt, soo I'm definitely not one to label myself anything. Eating healthy. Yes. That sounds about right. :)

    Loving the tree pics, even if it is fake! :)

  31. This is a good post. You have a good attitude and I think more people should read this. Spread your love :)

  32. This is why I think you're gonna be a kick-ass RD, Gina. You're so down-to-earth, and you look at all aspects. This clean-eating diet sounds so nice and brilliant, but it negates to consider the mental and social part of it. It just is not practical, and it just causes unnecessary stress...and what do most people do when they're stressed? binge of course!

  33. I couldn't agree with you more...putting any eats off limit is wrong! It makes you wanna eat it more. Love the tree!

  34. i really enjoyed reading htis post. i think realistically, the cleaning eating described here is not realistic, reasonable, or a way to be happy. let's be honest, we are going to occasionally enjoy that processed candy, cake, ice cream, even burger? i think it is important to try to eat natural foods as much as possible, but not to put too many limits! thanks for your incredible insight :) you really will be a great RD


  35. Your Christmas tree looks gorgeous!! I love how y'all do the classic hot chocolate and Christmas music combo while decorating - so do we! :-) It's my favorite part of the holiday season! :-)

    I completely, completely agree with you about clean eating - I do think the clean eating philosophy is a good general guide, but absolutely, one should have a little bit of everything too! That's part of the joys of a healthy balance!

  36. P.S. As for spicy foods... :-) They don't do anything toooo exciting, but they do clear out the sinuses and, um, promote expectoration... :-p Rather like many cold meds do, actually, without the drowsy side effects!

  37. Yeah, the whole "off limits" thing doesn't work for me...just makes me want it more!!!

    Your tree looks beautiful!

  38. Gina, Fabulous post!

    First, love your tree! My real tree has been sitting in our living room naked since Sunday- so I have got to get on it!

    Great review of "Clean Eating". I have to say, first, as long as an eating plan is healthy, and not harmful, I'm for what works.

    However, personally, I think, for most people, the idea of restricting foods or types of foods, just doesn't work well...resulting in bingeing after restricting.

    I'm more a fan of the positive approach..."what should I try to eat more often??" rather that "what should I avoid?"...Love all the comments and perspectives though. I'll stay firmly on the side of overall healthy eating, but occasionally some real olive oil and sugar is good to me!!

  39. So tell me...did you buy a pine-scented candle to fake yourself out about the tree or are you going to rely on the aroma of baked goods to get your nose into the holiday spirit?

  40. P.S.
    And I agree 100% with your eating philosophy. As a fellow RD, there is nothing that raises my hackles faster than someone saying something is "off-limits". Please. All foods can fit, and so can your jeans.


  41. Your tree looks beautiful! We do fake as well--it's just so much easier.

    I try to eat as clean as possible but of course I don't all the time. I also enjoy nights out and try to make the best choices in regards to sides and such--I always go for extra veggies instead of most options.

  42. Your tree looks good...fake or not. I also can't have a real tree in my apartment but I don't even have room to really put one up anyway.

    I really liked how you threw in your thoughts on clean eating. I follow quite a lot of the principles that are highlighted.

  43. How weird that your apartment won't let you have a real tree!!! Andy and I have a fake tree just because I don't want to deal with the mess. Pine needles drive me crazy!!!

  44. Great post! I echo your thoughs about clean eating. I could never deprice myself of the treats I enjoy in moderation!
    Aso for the 5-6 days of physical activity per week, this doesn't mean high intensity sweat sessions, right? One day may simply be walking for an hour?

  45. I agree completely with you. I think it is unrealistic. I wouldn't last very long if I couldn't have a dessert or french fry. I like the idea behind this but like you said, it is pretty much the same concepts that we would recommend to a patient..fruits and veggies, exercise, limit additives, etc.
    Great post..and your tree looks great!

  46. Gina- this is another genius post! I think that whenever we hear 'off limits' our inherent nature makes us want to rebel. In my case, it means to eat it all up! I had restricted myself for about a year and after that I went apesh*t over nut butters and nutrient dense foods- not good!

    I loved seeing all your ornaments- so pretty!

  47. You two are too cute!

    I don't think I could live without frozen veggies, and wouldn't plan on giving them up any time in the near future. Eating rules, do not hold me back. Balance is key (she types while eating pizza).

  48. Thanks for your kind comment! I love your mouse ornament with the Hershey's kisses. :) Adorable.