How I’m Eating Lately & Let’s Talk Labels

Hi everyone!! I wanted to take a minute (or a few minutes, since I went on a little bit of a rant here) to share about how I am eating lately, and talk about labels, balance, and all sorts of good things!

How I'm Eating Lately & Let's Talk Labels - Lexi's Clean Kitchen
 

So, why am I writing this post?!

Reason 1: For starters, many of you have been following me for a long time and know my whole story, and many of you are new to my little corner of the internet and don’t know why I began eating the way I do! So I wanted to take a moment and share that background — and then where I am at today, to hopefully inspire you on your clean eating, healthy living journey!

Reason 2: And this one is the big ticket reason for this blog post!

Occasionally I share fun little videos from other pages on my Facebook Page (come join the fun), for example, like an indulgent BLT’s made with a bacon weave instead of bread.

When I do share these fun little videos, I often get comments such as, “NOT HEALTHY” and “I thought this was a clean eating page?” 

To continue with the bacon example, while I wouldn’t go ahead and actually make this if someone handed me a bite, I’d totally take one! That’s the thing you guys, this website IS about clean eating (but remember, your version may look different than someone else’s)! It’s about living your best and healthiest life. It’s about eating to FEEL YOUR BEST. Including mentally and emotionally. It’s about the occasional indulgence without having ALL THE GUILT. It’s about listening to your body.  And it’s about living a little, too! More on 90/10 below!

Reason 3: Let’s ditch the labels a little bit (more on this below)…

Let’s rewind to 2013 for a minute…

In 2013 my stomach hit a wall and was at it’s absolute worst, even though I was eating ‘healthy’ (so I thought) and exercising regularly. It was to the point I didn’t want to leave the house I felt so sick and awful. It consumed my life, affected my relationship, and was making me so unhappy.

Now, because I’m all about TMI, I’ll get a little specific with you. I couldn’t go to the bathroom, like for days and days. I was SO beyond bloated and gassy. Now, this would happen even if I ate a piece of lettuce at that point. My gut was seriously messed up to the point that anything would affect it, and I had no idea what to do about it.

I decided, after some research, to cut out foods that I had read could cause inflammation in the body. I began with cutting out gluten and dairy, and fairly quickly, I started noticing a difference in my digestion, energy, skin, and mood. But it was certainly not 100% or even 85%. I decided to eliminate some more foods (grains, legumes, refined sugar, and soy), and sloooowly began healing my body through food.

You guys, that’s why I believe so strongly in the power of food. It changed my life.

With that said, I wanted answers. I needed a little more help beyond what I could do with food alone. I wanted to know the root cause of whatever was going on in my body, so I sought out a functional medicine doctor. 

Step 1 was making sure I was going to the bathroom regularly. You guys, I had tried everything under the sun for this. Everything had the opposite effect. My doctor had me taking as much Magnesium Citrate as needed (at night because it can make you tired) until I was going to the bathroom regularly.

Step 2 was getting some answers. Through blood tests, stool samples,  food sensitivity panels, and more — leaky gut and a candida overgrowth were the root causes found. I did a strict candida diet, a liver detox, more elimination diets/reintroductions of foods, and a few other protocols to help further my healing.

I finally had answers, and as happy as I was, I was overwhelmed by all the things I could no longer eat! That’s why LCK began. I began creating recipes I wanted to eat, free of all the things I could no longer eat. I created a resource for myself, and for anyone else out there looking for recipes free of certain ingredients.

What Has Changed Over The Years? 

When I was working super hard to heal my gut, I was STRICT, STRICT, STRICT. I wasn’t eating the baked goods on my blog, I wasn’t ‘cheating’. At the time, I would’ve felt really, really bad (physically) and it wasn’t worth it for me.

As time has gone on, I’ve been able to be more flexible with the foods I eat — within moderation. So what does that look like? Now I’ll eat some rice, rice pasta, some legumes, and some dairy (mainly just some good quality cheese). I notice if I overdo it, I’ll feel it, so I eat with an 80/20 or 90/10 approach, and I love it! While LCK is still gluten-free, mostly grain-free, mostly dairy-free, refined sugar free, and soy-free because that’s the way I eat, it’s more about overall healthy, clean eating then specific strict labels.

80/20 or 90/10: What’s That? 

Essentially it means 80% of the time (or 90% of the time) you eat super clean*, and the other percentage, you live a little. I don’t go out and eat a humongous chicken parm sub (though man, those were good), but I’ll now eat some gluten-free pizza, gluten-free pasta, and things like that!

I’m also experimenting how I do with digesting certain foods that were off limits for me for a while, like beans, which I’ve been tolerating pretty well (yay, hummus, welcome back)!

*Clean eating being mostly defined here as omitting processed foods and replacing them with real, nutrient-dense whole foods!

The Importance of Balance & Being In Tune with Your Body

So here’s the thing, you guys… Maybe you’re eating this way because you have something going on in your body. Maybe you just want to feel healthier, have more energy, and feel awesome. Maybe you have allergies and have no choice.

Wherever you are on your journey, it’s important to really take the time to get to know your body. Do what works for you! Ditch the labels and the agony of following a specific diet. It’s freeing, believe me.

Not in the mood for meat? So eat more plant based meals!

Break out after eating dairy? Avoid it for a while. That doesn’t mean it has to be forever.

Eat mostly paleo but can eat digest quinoa just fine? Go for it!

See where I’m going with this?

Let’s Talk Labels:

Okay, let’s get into this and then I promise I’ll wrap this post up! I know it’s getting long! Back to reason 2 for writing this post (see above), I will also get people saying ‘but that’s not paleo, is it?,’ ‘I thought cheese isn’t paleo?’ and so on. 

Though I do personally eat some form of a paleo lifestyle because I find that’s what works best for my body, I’ve ditched the strict constraints of that a long time ago. Now that doesn’t mean I eat all the gluten and whatnot, but simply I ditched making myself crazy and feel bad if I eat some hummus, rice on my sushi, or some local good-quality cheese.

I started making it less about a label or a diet, and more about what was good for me, and honestly, it has been amazingly freeing. I think about what’s a priority to me: the quality of the meat, eggs, fish, and produce I am eating and where it’s coming from, and enjoying my life and feeling awesome while doing so. If things change with my body, I’ll approach the changes I’ll need to make as they arise. Simple as that!

Here’s the thing: diets get a bad rap for a reason. It’s a short-term mindset, but I am not saying that can’t set you up for long-term success and can help you create a good foundation. Eating clean, AKA removing processed foods and replacing them with real, good quality, whole foods — is a lifestyle choice, not a fad a diet. A healthy lifestyle, simply put, is forever, but doesn’t require a strict label.

The Takeaway?

Step back and eat the way that makes you THRIVE. Live the lifestyle that makes you feel like a rockstar. Period.

Maybe for you, that’s strict paleo and working out HARD, or maybe you eat clean 80/20 and do yoga and go on walks. Maybe that’s simply cutting out soda and making small changes in your life and for your family. There’s no right or wrong here! Just be kind to your mind and body. You’ll thank yourself, you’ll feel great, and you’ll be happy.

Let me know your thoughts, and feel free to drop any questions below! 

XOXO!

Your friend,

Lexi

Looking Back on 2016!

2016 has been…

Crazy, wild, exciting, stressful, overwhelming, joyful, and FUN.

You guys, it’s been quite the year. It’s been a year of challenges, growth, working for myself, finding balance (or lack there of), life changes, business decisions, and so much more. I am grateful every single day to do what I love and to help all of you find success in your own kitchen, whether that’s starting on your clean eating journey, or simply making delicious and nutritious meals for you and your family. Truly, I love what I do with a burning passion and I am beyond thankful for each and every one of you. 2017, we are ready for you! 

Highlights:

I wrote my first cookbook.

We got married!!

We traveled a little, but actually not all that much (I promise this recap is coming really soon).

My book launched to the world, and when it hit shelves it became a top cookbook at Barnes and Noble and was #1 in new releases in Gluten-Free Cooking!

I embarked ( and am still currently on) the start of my book tour (come meet me)!

I decided to hire Sabrina full-time, which will be as of January 2017! You’ll get to know her more, too! 

I met and connected tons of fabulous bloggers and authors who have become great friends and inspire me daily. I am grateful for this community, their support, and their friendships.

…And that’s just a handful of things! 

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Balance 

This year was different than my past few years blogging, because I was in the midst of writing my cookbook. To be honest, it was the biggest, and most demanding project I have ever worked on. It was exciting, stressful at times, and a TON of work. I am beyond happy with how the cookbook turned out and even more happy that all of you are loving it so much. And of course, I am grateful for such an amazing opportunity. With that said, this year was challenging to find balance between life, blogging, and writing the book. 

With all of the fabulous things that went on in 2016, I ended up doing what I told myself I wouldn’t do.

I told myself  at the end of last year that in 2016 I would develop more of a morning routine where I would get up and meditate, work out, and get ready for the day (put on real clothes and get ready) — all before logging onto my computer and starting to work.

The days (and work, and weeks, and blogging, and book writing) got ahead of me and I found myself waking up and working right away. I found myself staying in my pajamas or yoga pants all day or for the majority of the day, and not mediating or doing any sort of morning routine. I think this is a really, really hard part of working from home and being your own boss. It’s just really hard to find that balance of having you time and working all the time. It’s a balance that has taken me a lot longer to figure out than I would have expected from this type A lady.

I am telling you this because in one way or another, whether you work from home or not, there is often something important that gets neglected in our live that we wish didn’t. Maybe it’s time with your family, maybe it’s eating healthier, maybe it’s drinking more water. Whatever it is for you, I hear you. It happens, and instead of beating ourselves up over it, let’s reflect and move forward.

One of my biggest 2017 personal goals will be developing and sticking to my morning routine and working on that work/life balance more!

2016 4th of July

2016 Content

This year, aside from all of the other content I shared, I did a Summer CSA Series with my girls Cassy from Fed and Fit and Juli from PaleOMG, and also did a Slow Cooker Sunday Series this Fall that so many of you loved! 

I love looking back on a years worth of content and seeing your most loved recipes. With millions of you here throughout the year with me, let’s take a look at some of your favorite dishes from 2016!

Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggie Dinner

Sheet-Pan-Chicken-&-Veggies4

Lemon Garlic Chicken and Rice One-Pan Skillet

Lemon-Garlic-Chicken-Rice-Skillet 

Caribbean Pulled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Caribbean Pulled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

 

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo with Chicken and Caramelized Onions

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo with Chicken and Caramelized Onions

Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast Cookies

 

Slow Cooker Thai Curry Chicken

Slow Cooker Thai Curry Chicken

It’s safe to say that this year you loved slow cooker meals, easy one-pan or sheet pan meals, on-the-go snacks, and that overall, you are looking for SIMPLE and practical meals that you can really make for your families! 

What You’ll See in 2017

In 2017, you’ll see TONS OF NEW RECIPES (of course), along with new series, meal plans, revamping older recipes, cooking videos (!!!!), how-to videos, more travel and lifestyle posts, safer skincare + better beauty posts, and more me getting real with you about life, balance, and all of that good stuff! 

I am truly grateful to embark on another amazing year with all of you! I feel blessed everyday to do what I love, and help you live healthier and delicious lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for cooking with me and trusting me when cooking for you and your loved ones!

I would love to hear what you’re looking to see on LCK in 2017! Are you looking for lunches? Easy dinners? Snacks? Breakfasts? Do you like the cooking videos? Do you want to know about non-toxic products we use in our home? Are you looking for blogging resources? Talk to me, I’m all ears! 

Happy New Year! I’ll see you next week in 2017! 

-Lexi

P.S. Check back in on Sunday, for week 1 of the FREE January Meal Plans (plus shopping lists)!