a peek inside the fishbowl

14 Jan, 2009

Eating clean

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

Subtitle: why Mummy has a raging headache

Some time ago I came upon a nugget of healthy eating advice that I haven’t forgotten.

If you want to embark on the road of healthy eating you should start by making two of your three main meals into healthy ones.

Breakfast is easy. I eat breakfast while I’m practically asleep, and I can easily make and eat the same thing every day.

On Tuesday morning I ate, thanks to some advice read in a book called Eating Clean, a giant bowl of oatmeal with berries and ground flax. I was full to bursting and it kept me full for a long time. (Ha – I just realized I measured out and ate TWO servings. No wonder I was so full!) I’m on a roll. Today is day two of oatmeal-berry combo (no sugar!) and so far so good.

The other meal I can easily healthify is lunch. I can eat lean protein/healthy greens without too much effort. I love my big salads. But it’s dinner that tends to give me the ol’ one two. i.e. the four *warm* slices of Ace Bakery white bread I ate with (pasta) dinner the other night. Hello Carb City USA!

Stuffing myself with bread isn’t doing anything to diminish the 4-5 pounds I gained over the holidays. In all seriousness, I don’t really have a weight issue, but too much Halloween indulgence spilled over into the holidays and now that the cold weather has set AND given the fact I work from home in it’s pretty easy to surrender to toast with peanut butter.

Here is part of today’s (ahem, HEALTHY) mid-morning snack:

Polka-dot soup

It’s leek/potato soup. I made it last night. It is delicious. (The dots are hot sauce!)

Eating Clean outlined a few ideas I am going to adopt.  But first I have to backtrack a second and say that I first learned about the book from Chantal. I got on the Ottawa library website and got myself on the waiting list. I didn’t have long to wait.

It’s written by Tosca Reno, and I liked a lot of what she had to say. She doesn’t really advocate one food group over another (although her diet doesn’t include a lot of bread products – no wonder!) just eating the kinds of groceries which can be obtained by shopping the periphery of your local supermarket. Her message can be boiled down into one thing:

Eat unprocessed whole foods in moderation.

No surprises there. In fact, it’s something I’ve thought/written about in the past. I was doing this for awhile but fell off the wagon and stayed off for too long.

Tosca is a big fan of oatmeal for breakfast (hence my gut-busting breakfasts), lean protein, veggies, lots of water, and smaller and more frequent meals.

She wrote a top ten worst foods list. I was happy to see there aren’t many that I actually eat:

  1. Donuts (nope)
  2. Marshmallow fluff (nooooo)
  3. Cola, sodas, pop (very rarely)
  4. Bacon, deli meat, processed meat (Ack! Bacon is the reason I’m not a vegetarian.)
  5. Sugary breakfast cereals (nope)
  6. Fruit juices and fake fruit drinks (We never buy fake fruit drinks, I rarely have juice in the morning. The girls only have a small glass in the morning.)
  7. Junk food (I’ll take a chip over a chocolate bar. But we don’t buy them very often.)
  8. Candy, candy floss, cotton candy (My candy plan involves a local boutique candy store, where one excellent caramel easily trumps a bag of cheapie ones.)
  9. French fries (Um. Yes.)
  10. Twinkies (Who eats twinkies??)

I’ve added a couple new things to my grocery list this week, something to help with the breakfasts and lunches: egg whites, chicken, and tuna.  This is temporary. I don’t believe that a restrictive diet is sustainable over the long haul (a life without cheese is a very sad one indeed), but eating well (and in moderation) is.

Problem: Eating Clean wasn’t the only book I checked out of the library. I also borrowed The Bread Bible. *sigh* What’s a gal to do?

11 Responses to "Eating clean"

1 | The Veg Next Door

January 14th, 2009 at 12:49 pm


I love that you’re a fan of Tosca too. I’ve been a fan since 2004. She’s awesome and very educated when it comes to nutrition. She’s also an inspiration in the hot body deptartment. She’s 49 and looks amazing. She did this all by eating clean and hard work in the gym. Love it!

2 | Jenn

January 14th, 2009 at 1:11 pm


Now in search of labels on the web to find out what is in Marshmallow/ Marshmallow fluff that makes it so bad. The cold weather prompted my daughter to ask for marshmallows to have in her hot chocolate after school and I promised I would make some today. Nothing is going to change that- it is a once a year thing we do. I am curious what it is that makes them so bad. The white sugar is obvious, does she explain each item in greater detail?

3 | porter

January 14th, 2009 at 2:59 pm


Oh yes, I also love bacon…so gross but so delish (sorry to the vegetarians reading this and gagging).

I have a hard time eating breakfast and I don’t eat enough during the day and then eat far too much at dinenr time. I know my energy levels would improve if I would fuel my body all day long.

4 | Gwen

January 14th, 2009 at 4:06 pm


Great post Andrea! I have been on the “Eating Clean” journey for quite a while and I have got to say that it is a constant process. For me, like you said, a restrictive diet is not always sustainable. The longer you go though, the less you crave the not so good things you once used to have. I love when that happens!

The only things on your list that I still have a weakness for is fries…and chips…mmmm…salty plain chips……and I have them very rarely.

Keep us posted on your progress!

5 | andrea

January 14th, 2009 at 4:29 pm


That’s just it, the longer you can go the less you crave.
I’m the same as you Gwen … give me the salty stuff! Love it. I have a particular weakness for Cheezies. Oh, just thinking about them is making me drool.

Jenn: Tosca actually refers to marshmallow products as “white poison” and “chemical puffs.” I think that’s a bit extreme, but what she ultimately writes is true, “there isn’t one speck of nutritional value to be found here.” It’s the gelatin and the corn syrup that isn’t supposed to be good for our bodies.

I think I might sub milk foam for the marshmallows for awhile.

6 | The Veg Next Door

January 14th, 2009 at 4:36 pm


Caught red-handed…I’m eating plain ol’ chips as I read this. Yikes!

7 | Virtually There

January 14th, 2009 at 5:02 pm


Very inspiring. I’m having a hard time getting the sugar out of my diet with all the baking.

As you know, I make a lot of our own bread and I found this book, which I’ve bought a copy of, in the Ottawa library that makes the breads at least completely whole grain. In case you want to check it out: http://www.amazon.ca/Laurels-Kitchen-Bread-Book-Whole-Grain/dp/0812969677

8 | Virtually There

January 14th, 2009 at 5:03 pm


Oh, and I imagine the problem with marshmallow and the fluff is the huge amount of high-fructose corn syrup that is in there.

9 | BeachMama

January 14th, 2009 at 7:56 pm


I have tried so much with the buying only healthy food, but it would appear that my family is against me. They (read Hubby) buys all the junk and leave it all around and I just can’t win that fight anymore. But, I do eat at least two healthy meals, my snacks are what are killing me.

10 | The Veg Next Door

January 14th, 2009 at 8:52 pm


BeachMama, the Eat Clean book for kids and families is what you need. Slow and steady.

I find that kids want to try whatever you’re eating but not necessarily at meal time. So if I’m eating a bowl of cherry tomatoes on the couch while they’re watching TV then sure enough they’ll come over and want to try what I’m eating. Then they become tomato lovers. In my experience kids don’t necessarily like what’s on their plates but like what their parents are eating at snack time. If you’re eating clean then hopefully your kids will eat clean too. The bonus is that you feel great.

11 | Vicki

January 15th, 2009 at 1:37 am


I started eating clean last January. I effortlessly lost 20 lbs by April. I still adhere to the eat clean diet concept. I find it is more of a lifestyle than diet. I also subscribe to the 90% rule – you need to let loose once-in-a-while. I have one day a week where I can eat whatever I want. Check out the Clean Eating magazine – awesome recipes, articles and meal plans that are very useful.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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