Live Blog: Clean Eating Discussion

Clean Eating
FitBloggin13 participants used this discussion as a forum for sharing clean eating trials, triumphs, and tips.


About the Facilitators: 

Minneapolis-based writer Nicole Navratil started her vegetarian blog, Pepperoni Is Not a Vegetable, just over three years ago. She is passionate about education, inspiring people to be mindful about their meat consumption, and connecting veggie lovers to one another, through social media and events around the Twin Cities. Nicole is currently working on her first cookbook, and is looking forward to planting her first “real” garden this spring. She began eating clean about two years ago, after discovering a link between food preservatives and migraine headaches. A wanna-be yogi, she’s very excited about meeting other like-hearted people at Fit Bloggin’, and can’t wait to get back to Portland.

Valerie Kirkland has a Master’s degree in Public Health and is a Certified Group Exercise Instructor. She enjoys creating clean recipes, sharing fitness tips and inspiration on her blog She first started blogging to help others learn how to eat clean. Her journey began in 2011 when she started eating clean and lifting weights, she successfully lost 20lbs and competed in her first fitness competition. Her transformation story has been featured in Oxygen Magazine and She enjoys helping others and recently founded Generation Healthy Kids, a non profit focused on combating childhood obesity. As a mother of a 2 year old she wants to help educate children and families about the importance of healthy eating and exercise. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Valerie and Nicole start off the session by explaining their history behind clean eating. Valerie was a group fitness instructor but wasn’t happy with her diet. She changed her diet and dropped 25 lbs, but she says it is definitely a lifestyle: “I have learned how to make clean doughnuts and clean pizza which makes my husband and child happy.”

Nicole was mostly a vegetarian but ate too many meat substitutes and realized she didn’t want the fake food anymore. She suffered from migraines and started focusing more of the  “fresh stuff which is clean eating, then recently I gave up refined sugar. After I got over that hurtle, I felt really good, and that’s my story.”


FACILITATORS: What does clean eating mean to you?

Audience: Clean eating changed my entire life. I started eating clean two years ago. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My doctor had me try a lot of medicines but I didn’t want to do the medication route. Over the course of about 6 months, I became vegan. It changed my life. I feel the best when I’m gluten free, and I know that’s what works best for me and not for everyone. People ask, “what do you eat?” I eat whatever comes from a tree or from the ground.

Audience: I don’t have any allergies or problems, but I decided to do the Whole30 challenge and I found that I can eat way better than what I was eating. I have found now that I didn’t think I had issues but now I realize I did.

Audience: I have a clean eating challenge on my blog and used to consume splenda, and now when I try to go back, it tastes terrible. I had huge issues with IBS through graduate school, but since I flushed everything out of my system, I started feeling a lot better.

Audience: I grew up with a mom who was a single mom, and we ate crap. When I got to college, I realized I just felt bad. I got a personal trainer and cleaned up my diet. Now I do CrossFit and I crave protein, and I can hear what my body is craving.

Valerie: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you drink soda 3x/day, try and take it down to 1x/day. Make efforts to make it a lifestyle instead of a diet where you feel defeated.



FACILITATORS: What is the biggest challenge making clean eating a lifestyle?

Audience: Being a mom of 3 kids, I learned I needed support. I asked my kids what they wanted for dinner and let them pick it out once they got older. I feel like I’m translating making real food good to them.

Audience: The biggest challenge for me is preparation and scheduling. I totally had a meal plan, but when things came up during the day and now its 6pm and I’m starving, the meal plan falls apart.

Valerie: I meal prep on Sundays and carry apples and almonds in my bag.

Nicole: Now, I don’t always know what I’m going to make. I just make sure I have proteins, grains, and things in season that are ready to go.

Audience: I don’t even know where to start. I don’t drink soda, but…

Valerie: Write down what you normally eat in a day, and see how you can clean it up. If you eat cereal and toast everyday, find a better cereal or try and replace the toast with an egg. Find things that fit your lifestyle and what you like. That’s the base. It gets easier once you start doing it.

Audience: Is sugar bad?

Valerie: Use natural forms of sugar and try decreasing it a bit. I used to drink yummy lattes everyday, but now I drink coffee black.



FACILITATORS: How have you incorporated clean eating into your household? What were your challenges?

Audience:  My Oklahoma family will want to eat crap, but I end up getting a chicken and salad for them instead.

Valerie: Don’t be discouraged. You will probably inspire them!

Audience: My husband didn’t understand, but then he lost lost 20lbs by me just not having the normal things in the house to eat.

Audience: Everyone has to start somewhere. If there is just one dish that someone can connect with on the table, there is an inclusiveness and there is joy to be shared.

Audience: Family knows now that I eat differently and will make me different stuff. you have to expect that even though you are making a change, you can’t expect others to also.



FACILITATORS: What are some tips for eating out or on the go?

Audience: Plan for celebrations.

Audience: My biggest thing was, “never leave your house hungry.” Like when you are going out to dinner with friends or at a party, you won’t be as tempted.

Audience: I meal plan and bring my 6 small meals to work and people say, “I wish I could eat that much.” I have found that I can eat more of the good healthy things instead of the one cup of mac ‘n cheese.

Audience: Know your triggers. A few drinks lead to a few pieces of cake.



FACILITATORS: What are some other tips for transitioning into clean eating?

Audience: Give yourself credit for what you have done and where you are.

Valerie: Everyone has a different journey and different goals. It’s hard to tackle clean eating, organic, etc.

Nicole: I go to Trader Joe’s and the Co-Op and buy whatever is on sale that week.

Audience: Changing your words to be positive and what you can have instead of what you can’t.

Valerie: I’ll just have a taste instead of the whole thing.  My husband says, “aren’t  you on a diet?” “No! Give me some more fries!” He just doesn’t want to share his fries.

Audience: I don’t like cooking or preparing, so now I just eat raw.

Audience: I make my husband sit with me while I’m cooking.

Audience: You have to know what is good and what works for you. Mine is spaghetti squash, and my husband’s is the grill.

Audience: Do you microwave?

Nicole and Valerie.: Yes. Cooking everything in the oven? We don’t have time for that.

Audience: It’s what you’re putting in the microwave that can be bad.

Audience: My clean eating is going to be different from your clean eating. It’s progress not perfection.

More suggestions from the audience: Smoothies, ground chicken shaped into nuggets rolled in almonds, dates for sweets, healthy surprise boxes, bringing kids into the kitchen, canning, vinegar vegetables, recipes on YouTube, the Magic Bullet, and making sure you stay hydrated.


This session was covered by Kasey Shuler, creator of Well of Health, a blog about healthy living resources for women.