What is your reason for following a clean-eating style of living? Do you want to lose weight or maintain? Is it to lower your blood pressure or gain energy? Maybe reduce your risk of cancer. Possibly all of the above!

Who would think I could go 10 days with no grains, no dairy, no packaged processed foods. Just whole foods. Someone who loves carbs, the occasional english muffin. Someone who has a bit of a sweet tooth and likes cheese. I grew up in the cheese state, Wisconsin. Could I survive 10 days of no grains, no dairy, and no sugar from anything processed (only from natural foods, fruits “limited to apples and a few berries” and vegetables). This would be a challenge but one that could only help me.

Day one left me wondering seriously if this would be the longest week of my life and if I would be better off locking myself in my room with a bottle of melatonin. Could I just sleep for 10 days. Day one I had a hard time getting the necessary calories and it became evident to me just how much I count on processed food for calories especially when I become busy and am out and about. I frequently grab a energy bar, or even a string cheese. I stop for a latte and egg white wrap at Starbucks or at home will toasted an english muffin. All seems innocent right? By day two, I had stopped to pick up some almonds and pistachios to snack on and we had hard boiled some eggs for protein. Preparation was the name of the game. Salads for lunch with protein and the same for dinner.

By day three, I had lost 5 lbs. It is absolutely amazing how the body adapts once you cut the crap out and start fueling with nutrients. The processed sugars, dairy, and over processed white flours, all products that increase inflammation in the body. Other things I noticed by day 2 and 3 were that I was sleeping much better and I had less overall body soreness, signs of inflammation.

The night of day 3 I resorted to an apple with almond butter and thought to myself how amazing it tasted. How much better it tasted than a packaged cookie or brownie. The nutrients I had just given my body versus the chemicals I could have poisoned myself with had I chosen something filled with sugar. It’s about choices. Eat real foods, eat whole foods, eats foods that are not processed with multiple ingredients, and keep it simple. It won’t always be easy. I am not going to lie to you but it will be worth it. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one will. Clean eating and human movement are the two simplest things you can do to improve your health, two things completely in your control.

This is not a diet, it is common sense nutrition. It is clean eating. Stop eating grains, gluten, dairy, and sugar (no processed sugar at all). I am being very strict for 10 days to jump-start for better terms my system. No pills. No alcohol, artificial sweeteners, anything you might think that would act like sugar in the body is a no. Eat lean protein, healthy fats, and vegetables. A few berries are ok in the AM. Apple with almond butter for snack is fine too. Drink plenty of water 64 oz.-80 oz. daily. Limit caffeine and get some sunshine. 30 minutes of moderate exercise, endorphins are good. Listen to your body though, when you change your nutrition your body might take a little time to adjust. I lost a lot of weight in the first few days and did not initially have a lot of energy as my body adjusted. It took me a little time to adjust.

By day 6 I was feeling more comfortable with the nutrition plan but honestly still craving some grains. I had to keep remind myself why I was doing this and that it would pay off. Less inflammation in my body, less sugar cravings and blood sugar ups and downs, better body composition, and sleeping better each night. After the 10 days of no processed foods, sugars, dairy, or grains I will only gradually add some back. I do plan to drastically cut back on grains and sugar and eat less dairy. All foods that contribute to inflammation in the body. The cleaner we eat the more we can expect from our body.

The Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in processed, refined carbohydrates and sugar, forces your body to produce a lot of insulin to handle the high levels of glucose entering the bloodstream from the carbohydrate-rich foods. Learning to choose healthier sources of carbohydrates (primarily from vegetables and low glycemic fruits) and balancing them out with the right amount of protein and healthy fats will keep insulin levels in check, making it easier to lose weight and keep it off.

By day 10 I was convinced by the results of my body composition and by the way I physically felt that, sugar is toxic to the body. Research has proved it but even more so I proved it by the way I physically felt and how my body reacted to the previous 10 days of clean living. We sometimes need to live first hand what we are often told to experience what we are promised. That is exactly what I did and I am so glad I did.

I often say, “we never stop learning”. I plan to continue to cut even more sugar out of my diet and keep a better log of what I am consuming. Often when we get busy we can lose track of what we are eating. Less sugar and grains, and more clean protein. In addition to that I will be better about drinking more water. We are also a student and none of us are perfect! Allow yourself a cheat day once in awhile but make sure to get right back on track. So to each of you, keep up the good work and make some small changes to clean up your nutrition.