I found Ivy and Clean Cuisine by way of visiting my sister-in-law in Jupiter a few years ago. It was New Years Eve and her friend Elissa had brought Ivy’s garlic edamame hummus. I absolutely loved it! I then purchased Ivy’s book, participated in the online 8-Week Challenge, and reviewed her Clean Cuisine Dinners digital cookbook before it was released. I’ve been a fan of her recipes and blog ever since. Thanks to Clean Cuisine, I learned so much about the value of eating an anti-inflammatory diet and cleaning up my lifestyle.
In the beginning, I was just focusing on cleaning up my diet. I began to pay close attention to the food I was eating and made a real effort to make more nutrient-dense choices. As I began to pay attention to my food and body, I quickly learned to also prioritize sleep. I realized there was a direct correlation between my food cravings and inadequate sleep.
As for cleaning up my diet, these are the four things that I think helped most:
1 Ensuring adequate water intake as sometimes it was a matter of needing more water than it was needing to eat again.
2 Incorporating more dark leafy greens (my favorite is lemony Lacinato Kale with my morning eggs!) I also find ways to sneak them into sauces, stir-fry, casseroles, smoothies, etc.
3 Adding healthy fats including avocados and wild caught salmon every week. This helped with satiety.
4 Eliminating all processed foods, no refined sugar, no refined oils. I feel this was huge in decreasing inflammation.
Making these four simple clean eating diet changes were an entryway into what later became a deeper rabbit hole of cleaning up my lifestyle.
My interest in clean eating intensified about 2 years after my son’s birth, in the fall of 2016. Our son Benjamin was born with significant pulmonary hypertension, low muscle tone, and a congenital heart defect. He was later diagnosed with global developmental delays and autism. Following Ben’s NICU stay and extended period on oxygen, he was in early intervention from 3 months on. After Ben’s diagnosis of Autism his therapy increased to 30 hours total, 5 days a week.
During this time, I was working night shift as an oncology nurse. I found myself completely depleted and stressed out. I saw my PCP and was found to have mono virus and a few other lab abnormalities. In short, I realized I had been living in “survival mode” for quite some time. I made the decision to clean up my diet in a bigger way and re-evaluate my lifestyle habits once again.
Although I was well aware of the value of sleep, I had once again slipped into an unhealthy sleeping pattern working nights. I decided to switch to day shift and prioritize my sleep. This made a huge difference.
I then decided to take another look at my diet, tighten the reigns and also get my husband on board.
Continuing with our phase 1 changes, together my husband and I made the following additional five diet changes in phase 2:
1 We got serious about meal planning.
2 To fight food boredom, we experimented with a new recipe every week.
3 More fruits! More vegetables! (I later read on Clean Cuisine that not eating enough fruits and vegetables is the biggest diet mistake people make.)
4 Homemade condiments. I realized how easy it was to make homemade mayo, sauces, dips and salad dressings without added sugar, refined oil or dairy. The Clean Cuisine website has been huge for this! (We especially love the clean spinach and artichoke dip.)
5 Staying consistent. Making small changes that added up over time to the point it feels normal and natural to eat this way.
For thirty days, we also eliminated gluten, dairy and sugar then slowly reintroduced them to see how our body tolerated these foods. I noticed an energy slump after eating gluten. Although I will definitely eat it from time to time, I don’t eat it nearly as much as I used to. I also noticed I wasn’t even remotely interested in eating anything with white sugar anymore. My idea of a quenching a sweet tooth craving now is a sliced banana sauteed in coconut oil with some almond butter drizzled on top. As for dairy, I’ll have a nice quality grassfed cheese or yogurt now and then as part of a dish but I’m not eating blocks of cheese by itself and I am not drinking milk. Again, I don’t miss the dairy the way I thought I would.
By the end of phase 2, my husband and I had completely transitioned to a nutrient dense clean diet. We had mostly eliminated gluten and dairy and focused on eating fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and high quality fats, as well as increased our water intake. Collectively, we lost 30 lbs, gained energy, experienced less brain fog and less sugar cravings. Best of all, we got in the kitchen together and had FUN!
Today, we are much more confident in our food shopping and meal planning skills. We feel committed to this way of clean eating and living. It feels far from restrictive or limiting like a “diet” can. It’s fun to find new delicious and nutritious recipes and execute a meal start to finish. We are so thankful that Clean Cuisine put us on this healthier path.
With so much emphasis on what was going IN my body, I began to think deeper about what goes ON my body too.
As an oncology nurse, I am well aware of the environmental toxins present in our everyday lives that can contribute to inflammation and disease. Currently the European Union bans 1400 chemicals that have been linked to hormone disruption, infertility, cancer, and developmental delays. To compare, the United States has banned only 30.
The United States has not changed their federal governing laws since 1938. I crosschecked my every day makeup and lotions on the EWG Skin Deep Database (ewg.org) to find many of them contained “moderate hazard” ingredients and I quickly began detoxing our home. I tossed my phthalate/fragrance containing detergents and air fresheners as well. I switched from Tide clothes detergent to Molly’s Suds.
Around this time I found a skin care company that offered transparency, safety, and quality; Beautycounter (see GIVEAWAY below!) Again after doing my due diligence, I was inspired by their mission of getting safe products into the hands of everyone. Beautycounter is an EWG verified company and adheres to the strictest ingredient selection process. The company has banned over 1,500 ingredients called their “Never List”, which includes a group of toxic chemicals whose harmful effects are beyond debate.
For me, Beautycounter filled a unique niche as an educated consumer looking to use safer products while not compromising quality. I absolutely loved the products and after several months of use, I joined on as a Consultant to share this broader message of wellness. It aligns with my nursing career and cleaner lifestyle as I feel deeply passionate about healing ourselves from the inside out.
My favorite products include our Charcoal Cleansing Bar and our Nourishing moisturizer. I’ve noticed a great difference in the brightness and softness of my skin as a result. As for our makeup, I especially love our foundation as well as our lipstick. (We are so proud to say non of our cosmetics contain detectable levels of heavy metals.) Ivy is a huge fan of Beautycounter sunscreen. And our son Ben uses the Beautycounter kids line in his bath.
As I continue down this healthier path for myself and my family, I feel so grateful to have found a cleaner way of living through my journey with Clean Cuisine. When we know better, we do better. I am eternally grateful there are advocates and educators like Ivy and honest companies like Beautycounter to help show us the way towards a life full of optimal health and vitality.