So what does “Clean Eating” really mean?
Clean eating means different things to different people. The main thing to remember when cleaning up your diet is to stay away from processed foods and stick to the parameter of the grocery store. The point of eating clean is to maintain a balanced diet. Your diet should include whole foods; fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats & lean proteins. Some people may still choose to include dairy and eggs as well.
You may think of eating clean as a diet, but this is a sustainable lifestyle change. Instead of focusing on the things you may need to cut out of your diet, start to add in healthier foods. In doing so you will slowly crowd out the bad when you add in the good! This is not an all or nothing approach… you don't have to change your life overnight. Start slow, add one thing in at a time. Over time your cravings will subside and you won’t miss those things as much as you may think. When you feel good, you make good choices.
Here are five tips to remember when trying to clean up your diet.
1. Keep it whole. Stick to whole foods that occur in nature. Fresh fruit and vegetables, grass-fed and free-range meats, eggs, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
2. Experiment with cooking at home and trying new recipes. Restaurant food is much higher in salt and sweeteners. We also tend to overeat when eating out at restaurants, they serve much larger portions that you should be eating, and let's face it… we love to clear our plate right?
3. Limit refined carbs. To start, you don’t need to cut them out completely but at least reduce the amount of white food ( foods made from white flour and white sugar). These would be your standard desserts, white rice, pasta, bread and pastries.
4. Keep your blood sugar stable. Eat consistently throughout the day. Skipping meals and waiting too long in between meals can make your blood sugar spike… which in return leads to an energy crash. By eating nutritious foods, you are helping to support a more stable blood sugar, which can help reduce inflammation.
5. Balance your plate! Carbs are not the enemy as so many people think. You should be getting protein, carbohydrates and fat in every meal. Lean meats, fish and legumes are all great protein choices. Complex carbs such as whole grains, brown rice, farro, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts. Great healthy fats options are avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
When you choose to eat whole foods, you not only are balancing your plate but you will start living a more balanced life as well. Think about it, if you start to feel better, you will have more energy, you will feel more apt to maybe start exercising or just moving your body more. We need to start to think about eating as fuel for our bodies instead of just feeding it when we feel hungry.
Eating whole foods and fueling our bodies with all of the essential vitamins have so many benefits. What is your reasoning for wanting to make this sustainable lifestyle change? Some may start simply because they want to lose weight, but you will gain so much more. Increased energy, clearer skin, improve your mental health, help to keep a healthy gut, and by eating clean you can ward off many diseases. Whatever your reasoning may be, really figure out WHY you want to make this change and use this why as a motivating guide when you may feel like you want to reach for that unhealthy snack or fall into your old ways.
Life is all about balance. Choose quality over quantity. Fueling your body with the proper nutrients is just the beginning of living an overall healthier life.