Finding Balance Between Eating Clean And Living





My excitement surrounding the sale price of strawberries led me back to the grocery store which meant we had plenty on hand for making a quick round of chocolate-covered berries last night.

chocolate covered strawberries

Chocolate-covered strawberries take two minutes to make and don’t need to look like they came from Godiva to taste amazing.

When my son finished his plate, he asked for a handful of chocolate chips trying to convince me that the extra dose of chocolate would strengthen his brain because chocolate is brain food.

I told him that I think he meant blueberries but he insisted that he meant chocolate so I decided he meant dark chocolate, appreciated his debate and gave him a handful because I didn’t want to deny his brain.



The other night I enjoyed sharing jumbo shrimp cocktail and a delicious hummus dip as appetizers while out for dinner.

My partner in good food crime was sure to inform me that the restaurant we were at uses Whole Foods as their shrimp supplier so I didn’t have to worry about the quality.

As touched and amused as I was to hear this information (which I am sure wasn’t even true), it didn’t really matter to me.

I do the best that I can in terms of my food shopping and cooking at home.

I seek out organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free everything, I find the least processed foods, avoid artificial and preservatives where possible and live as plant-based as I can BUT…

I refuse to let it control my life.

By the way, I usually refer to my diet as vegetarian and have been meatless for three years.

Eliminating animal protein sources from my diet such as meat and poultry changed my life and health for the better.

We really can argue that since I will enjoy a shrimp cocktail or sushi roll on rare occasion that I should immediately call myself a pescatarian but here’s why I don’t:

#1- most people who ask me don’t even know what a pescatarian is (it means you are vegetarian but will eat fish) and #2- I often forget that I even consume fish at all because it doesn’t happen often.

I didn’t eat any kind of fish until I was 31 and only eat shrimp and spicy tuna in sushi rolls if I am out for dinner.

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh right. So here’s the thing —

When I am out enjoying a good meal, I try not to let what I know about the food supply or questioning how the food is prepared get the best of me.

Is it very possible that the shrimp I was eating was farm-raised? Yes.

Is it possible that the dairy in my favorite chocolate desserts is far from organic and that the ingredients contain loads of GMO’s?  For sure.

Is the animal protein served to my son in restaurants organic or of the same quality I serve him at home? Probably not.

But I need to live and part of me living is going out to eat with the people I like spending time with — without stressing about eating clean all of the time.

If I were to start focusing on where the restaurants are receiving their deliveries from or exactly how they were cooking the dishes, if I gave up sharing sushi rolls (because part of the fun of sushi is sharing it) I would be ruining my life in what would be for me, a path towards disordered eating.

I can control what comes into my house but I don’t need to control everything when I am out.

For example, my morning cup of coffee will contain organic skim milk.

coffee with skim milk

I am allergic to almonds therefore I cannot drink almond milk. I buy only organic skim but can’t worry too much about the type of milk used when I order my coffee at Starbucks or Panera.

panera coffee

Of course I hope one day they will get on board with offering organic but until then, the one drop of milk won’t hurt me.

I haven’t shown you my oats in a jar lately.

oats in a jar

Sometimes I consider cutting back further on dairy but then I realize how satisfied I feel from adding a little greek yogurt to my oatmeal after my run.

I don’t eat it every single day, I go through phases, but I don’t think I will ever phase it out completely.

I make sure to buy organic greek yogurt these days but if I am out for breakfast or brunch, I will order the yogurt if I feel like it, not allowing the thought of what kind is it, is it hormone free and organic overtake me.

I still love Red Mango.

red mango

Maybe that’s why I can never be vegan – I would have to give up my frozen yogurt and that would be a sad day.

A parfait has lots of berries (which are probably not organic) with pumpkin flax granola, chocolate chips (brain food!) and yogurt. I know it’s the frozen kind, I know it’s not the same as fresh but I like it and that counts for something too.

You know I eat a ton of vegetables and lots of salads but sometimes I do not want that for lunch. Sometimes my sweet tooth takes over and that’s fine. I like to eat what I am in the mood for rather than what society thinks lunch should look like.

I love cooking dinner at home.

I can make as much as I want. I can combine whatever vegetables I feel like seasoned according to my mood, add a giant sweet potato diced up with lots of avocado and pick a plant-based protein of choice to round out my meal.

plant based power plate

I like knowing how I cook my quinoa and that I am in control of what I may add to it.

lentils and quinoa

Lentils and tri-color quinoa cooked together in low-sodium vegetable broth. I make a few servings at once and then eat it throughout the week.

But if the opportunity randomly presents itself to dine out, I am so there. Even if I haven’t a clue where the food is from, if the dish I order is cooked in a broth I would never use, I try not to care.

I feel like this way of eating gives me a really nice balance. I am super clean about my diet a majority of the time but will never let that become all of the time.

By the way, do you know I can’t remember exactly the last time I had chocolate cake at The Cheesecake Factory? That means it has been too many weeks and dare I say at least a month. How did that happen?

Be sure to check out what everyone else is eating today!


Anyone else allergic to almonds?

What type of greek yogurt do you buy?

How do you find balance in your eating?



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  1. says

    Meri! I LOVE this, this is pretty much my exact approach! I eat clean and unprocessed as much as possible, meaning that for most of the time, I am getting my nutrients. I allow myself the sweets each day, as life is for living, and they make me happy, and when I go out to eat, I let myself have what I want, even if that means the chicken is not free range. Although i do try to go to places that do care about the world, and I HATE chain restaurants!! SO nice to see someone with the same mindset 🙂

  2. says

    Michele is talking about something similar today, actually, and my response will be similar as well, though slightly different. You have to find a balance between what you want and what you need. Would I like to run most days of the week? Yup, but it isn’t good for my body. And, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and allows you to crave both the super healthy and the not so great for you. But I also don’t think that they are mutually exclusive!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Healthy Seafood Recipes Roundup #WIAWMy Profile

  3. says

    I think you’ve definitely got the right idea for balance! It’s kind of like the “80/20 thing” but really, as long as you’re happy and you feel strong and healthy, I think you’ve got it! 🙂 I used to always be trying to “cut something out” and it just ended up making me feel deprived! Now I try to give in to my cravings but not over do it 🙂
    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables recently posted…Yesterday’s EatsMy Profile

  4. says

    I do the best I can with food quality but I don’t freak out over non-organic food. I figure my family is getting better food than most, and since we have to stick to a budget, all organic or “pure” food just isn’t possible! I’m totally fine with it, and grab deals when I can! And yes, as I said today in my post it’s cool to just eat for enjoyment too!
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted…Is Food Just Fuel? Food and Emotions – WIAWMy Profile

    • says

      Totally agree with you – I figure the same thing, that my son and I are getting better food than most and we do what we can on a budget. It’s not possible for me to buy all organic and I think we are doing fine with what I buy.

    • says

      Yes, I absolutely see you have been getting really good at going with the flow. You amaze me everyday with how far you have come and the fact that you now have three kids, one is a newborn and you are so on track and getting back into your running. Keep up the good work!

  5. says

    I totally agree! We can’t ALWAYS control where our food comes from without going completely crazy and taking the enjoyment out of eating. I think what counts is what you do most of the time. I try to buy high quality products but they are more expensive, so sometimes I don’t. I still try to do the best I can, and when I eat out I try to make a reasonable choice. But since i don’t eat out often I feel like its ok to order what I want on those occasions.
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Whole30 Days 1 & 2 (WIAW)My Profile

    • says

      I try too with the high quality products but can’t always buy organic – just too pricey. I pick and choose and make my decisions on a weekly basis and then when I am out, I do the best I can without really caring too much just as long as I am enjoying myself.

  6. says

    This is such a great post! I think that it is okay if you eat healthy 80% of the time, the rest can be in moderation so you don’t go crazy! I don’t need to cringe if I eat Black Beans out of a can every once in a while, It’s not gonna kill me!

  7. says

    Great post. We can never be reminded enough about the importance of balance. With 8 people in our family we don’t eat out hardly ever which forces us to eat healthier at home. But like everything, it’s fun to go out once in a while. Our once in a while is rarer than most otherwise we’d be broke!

    • says

      Broke is an understatement! Just going for dinner with two people can be so pricey that I do not blame you for not dining out more often! You have a small party going on at home : )

  8. says

    I try so hard to get things from the best sources, but I feel like that story constantly changes as well. I think just trying your best when you can is key and knowing what you want to eat and doing the research if you must have it. My favorite yogurt is British (I’m excited to be moving over soon because of it) it’s called Rachel’s and it’s the best yogurt I have ever had. I wish it could be sold in the US! 🙂 This was great, thank you! 🙂
    Erin recently posted…Soup! : WIAWMy Profile

    • says

      You are so right – one day the best sources are then considered the worst sources. It’s always changing and so much to think about if we let it get to us 100% all of the time. I haven’t had or heard of that yogurt but if you say it’s terrific I would love to try it!

  9. says

    Hi Meredith! Love this post and I agree with you. Although I’m a fitness professional and eat clean meals at home during the week, I live in San Francisco and have to enjoy all the good stuff out there no matter how it is prepared or raised. I don’t like to place labels on my diet, and so I eat whatever I want (in moderation). I must say that I love my desserts and was at the Cheesecake Factory just this past Saturday chowing down on a slice for myself. However, I feel much better when I’ve eaten a healthy home-cooked meal, but that’s not reality to do every night. We’ve got to live!! I usually buy Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt in a tub for making overnight oats, but I also like Chobani. Happy Wednesday! 🙂
    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West recently posted…A different kind of training and my foodMy Profile

    • says

      I like the tub from TJ too! It’s really good and I pick it up whenever I am there…I am totally with you on enjoying the foods from our cities – I can’t give up the fun and taste of my favorite Manhattan restaurants!

  10. says

    I’m a big fan of your easy-going approach. I think that the stress of constantly thinking about whether or not food is “clean” is worse than actually eating food that might not be organic or whatever. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be spending -too- much time thinking about what we eat, because it really takes away from enjoying other aspects of life. And I don’t know what I’d do if I was allergic to almonds, considering it’s one of the only nuts I can actually eat 😛
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. a few thoughts on turning 30 .My Profile

    • says

      Imagine if I couldn’t eat peanut butter? I don’t know what I would do. I actually can’t eat raw peanuts but I can handle that type of allergy so long as I can forever eat my jars of peanut butter.

  11. says

    I’m pretty much the same way. I try to go to restaurants where I know where the food comes from, but if it’s outside of my control, I don’t sweat it either. I eat so well the majority of the time it’s not worth the trouble or discomfort on making myself or others anxious.

    • says

      That’s exactly it – I don’t want to be that person either. I don’t want to be that person who makes a scene when ordering or someone who can’t go to her favorite restaurants because she got too nutty over ingredients. I just refuse to let too much of what I know about food ruin my fun lol.