PSA: Eating clean is worth it.

If you ask anyone who eats with me on a regular basis, I am very selective. And, to be perfectly honest, I get quite a few weird looks from the people in my life when I whip out my homemade chia seed, apple cider vinegar dressing or refuse to touch the goodies in the teacher lounge. But, I’m okay with that.

I don’t strive to eat clean because it’s a fad or because I am trying to control my weight, (the most common and somewhat offensive assumption). I do so because I care about my health and notice an obvious difference in how I feel when I avoid certain things in my diet, (particularly white flour, sugar, and alcohol).

In the past, I have shared many of my favorite nutritional documentaries, (Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc.), but today I just want to focus on some ideas I came across as I researched Vega One Nutritional Shakes. The powder was designed by an Iron Man athlete and is one of the most well-thought out nutritional supplements I have come across.

I’m not here to sell you on the powder, (although I do think it makes an excellent breakfast smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, a banana, and berries), instead I just want to share a few takeaways that have helped me change the way I see nutrition:

  • It’s not about cutting things out of your diet, it’s about adding the good stuff in. It’s so easy to obsess about what not to eat, but if you’re eating enough of the good stuff, you crave the not-so-good alternatives less and “crowd them out” of your diet. I find that when I go long enough without sugar, for example, I don’t even want it anymore, (and, I’m a sugar monster).
  • After a workout is the worst time to eat unhealthy food. I hear a lot of people “treat” themselves after burning calories, but your body needs good building blocks to repair muscles, not crappy ones. Makes a lot of sense.
  • You can find healthy ways to eat out. By the third or four day of travel, I usually feel terrible because I have a really hard time shifting my diet back to more conventional choices and admittedly often lose my self-control when I see old favorites on the menu, (like grass-fed cheeseburgers and french fries). And, when I say feel terrible, I don’t mean guilt, I mean my body actually feels incredibly rundown when I repeatedly eat not-so-healthy choices, (vacations usually end in food hangovers for me). However, this video inspired me to try a little harder. Tonight I’m off to Outback Steak House for a social commitment and I’ve already decided to experiment. I’m ordering from the sides: grilled asparagus, seasoned rice, and my splurge– sweet potato fries. Might sound control freak to some, but I’m excited. Too often when I eat at chain restaurants, I feel like crap afterward. Not tonight.
  • Eating healthy does not have to break your budget. This is the most common complaint, and yes, I agree, there are income levels where some health food choices are out of reach, but for most people on a budget, eating healthy just requires trade offs. My husband and I often joke about how our incredibly healthy meals (think veggie currie, quinoa, elaborate salads) cost the same as grabbing fast food, usually around $10 or less to feed both of us. When my aunt got me interested in trying the Vega One shakes, I cringed a little at the price, (about $2.33/serving if you order the big tub off Vitacost, more if you buy it at Whole Foods). But, then I decided to begin with half a serving (still nutritionally dense) for the first month. If I decide to “splurge” with a full serving next time I order, I will just have to cut the money from somewhere else– like one less meal out in a month, which is likely worth it.

As much as I do my best to remain health conscious, I’m not always perfect. Thrive Forward’s website definitely inspired me to keep working at it. Hopefully you found some inspiration somewhere in all of these thoughts, too. My goal is to feel energetic and keep my immune system strong since I am surrounded by germs all day at work. When I am consistent, I notice a huge payoff.

Happy Saturday and happy healthy eating.

Great health videos at

I love infographics and the idea that I can get so much out of a breakfast shake.

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8 thoughts on “PSA: Eating clean is worth it.

  1. I’m doing some research on food myself these days. I love good food, and I love cooking good comfort food. For me, I am focusing on buying in season produce at the farmer’s market, along with farm fresh brown eggs. What a difference in the taste!
    I have been using 1% milk since my kids got out of toddlerhood. I can’t make the final leap to skim or almond milk ( I hate the taste of milk anyway), but those little changes add up.

    My goal is to find as many items farm fresh as I can, and to incorporate as many fruits and veges into my diet as I can. What was once a “well I’ll worry about what I’m eating in ten years when it matters” has now arrived. I would like to stay strong and healthy for another twenty- thirty years if possible.

    So thank you for sharing your thoughts. I wish I had been a bit smarter when I was much younger about what I was eating, but my mom did serve us a lot of tea, fruits and vegetables so I hope those offset the snack foods we had in moderation.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      There is a cookbook I think you would love, called Nourishing Traditions. If you can get a cheap/used version on Amazon, you should check it out. It has some great recipes for traditional comfort foods, (I love the meatloaf and peruvian quinoa recipes), and also has great tidbits on why different ingredients are healthful. The emphasis is on recipes passed down through generations. In fact, I’m sure it would argue that many of the things you ate as a child were wonderful.

      I’m with you– I love comforting, home-cooked meals. And, when everything is local/I know where the ingredients came from, I feel a lot more confident in what I’m eating. I also think our needs vary based on our genetics, so what might make one person feel great, might make another feel terrible. I’m just working on listening to my own response to food and honoring that sometimes the big greasy restaurant meal is not worth it afterward. And, my tip for almond milk– mix it into a smoothie or something else, I don’t drink it on its own or in cereal.

      Good luck in your own quest! Thank you for sharing your experiences, and, btw– I’m almost done with Breakfast with Buddha, thank you for the recommendation, I have enjoyed it.

  2. nicole says:

    Completely agree Olivia. I try to eat well, unprocessed foods, eating things I can pronounce, limiting my dairy and meat, and also listening to what I need to eat. I think it is really costly to eat healthier, but in the long run it is better because unhealthy eating can lead to many health problems and you will be paying for it. I try and stick to buying things in season and at farmer’s markets.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Yes, it definitely sounds like we have very similar eating philosophies! For me, I have not found my shifts in diet to be more expensive, but I started out on a fairly healthy page to begin with– what do you find to be the most expensive part? Buying organic? I ask because I always hear that but I think I’m so used to it that I don’t know the difference 🙂 When compared to eating out/fast food, it seems to cost the same or less, but I can see that it costs more than some alternatives at the grocery store.

      • nicole says:

        I feel like some organic fruits and veggies are expensive, i.e., some bunches of spinach are small and about $3.00 more than the conventional spinach, same with kale; but when I buy in season, at the farmers’ market (now it is cold here — I am in NY — so the farmers’ markets restart usually in end of March/April), there is not much difference. Absolutely, compared to eating out and fast food, it is not that much more money and you know what you are getting. There are some foods that I will buy organic and some not, I wash them really well, I think, and hope, eating veggies and fruits — even if they are not organic — is still a healthier choice. I definitively feel better when I eat better. Some things are more money, but worth it that I buy, like natural peanut butter, some breads, especially the healthier ones, canned beans, although I am doing my best to use dried beans.

      • oliviaobryon says:

        That definitely all makes sense! I think I take for granted living in the middle of California’s central valley where such a variety of organic produce is grown. I also am careful to buy what’s in season and/or on special, which helps. Eating healthy can be done on a budget, I swear! 🙂

  3. Kozo says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Olivia. I like how you show your weaknesses–cheeseburger and fries, sweet potato fries. You make it sound possible for wretches like us to make the change. I am going to Whole Foods this week, so I will get some Vega One. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Awesome– go before the 12th, it’s actually on special for $21/off! A great deal! And, yes, I think there is hope for us all 😉 (Even if a few french fries and desserts slip in there along the way…)

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