Clean eating is rapidly becoming a favorite way of consuming food in a health-conscious manner.
Although some critics are panning it as the latest buzz-word, followers are reaping the multiple benefits that accompany living within healthy walls of this lifestyle.
Embarking on this lifestyle may prove difficult for some, but with a few tips, it is entirely doable.
First, let’s examine the meaning of clean eating.
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating implores us only to eat those foods that by definition are fresh, whole, and as close to nature as possible.
Unlike other ways of eating that challenge us to limit calorie or carbohydrate consumption, clean eating encourages followers to eat those foods that are unprocessed, minimally refined, and able to distribute the best in nutrition, in other words filling your diet with whole food.
Clean eating is all about eating a little more of this and not so much of that. It’s about making a conscious effort to pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth.
Benefits of Clean Eating
It’s hard to argue against the benefits that clean eating can deliver to the body. First, by merely increasing the number of fruits and vegetables you are consuming, you boost your intake of fiber which contributes to a healthy digestive tract and gives us the sense of feeling full after a meal.
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Next, clean eating increases the number of plant compounds in our bodies which play a significant role in combating symptoms associated with conditions like inflammation, menopause, arthritis and even asthma.
Studies demonstrate that it can also reduce the occurrence of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Of course, eating clean whole food also supports weight loss and healthy weight management.
Clean Eating Tips
Now you have some great information about the clean eating and all of the benefits this way of life can bestow on your body, but where do you start? How will you ever begin to change the way you eat?
Clean eating may seem improbable to many, but it is entirely possible with the power of knowledge. While you may not be able to adopt a clean eating lifestyle fully, there are multiple actions you can take to get pretty close.
Eat Whole Food
Whole foods that foods eaten in the natural state without processing and with all their vital nutrients intact. It’s the difference between an apple and apple pie or a baked potato and a potato chip. Switching to a diet comprised of whole foods gives you many benefits. Whole food is real food, nutritious, delicious and gives your body the substance it needs to thrive.
Clear Your Kitchen
Get rid of all unhealthy, processed and junk foods from your kitchen.
Start Slow in the Beginning
Changing the way, you eat should not be a rapid progression. Instead, you want to start slow to avoid the risk of failure that can sometimes come with radically changing the foods you eat. Pick a day or a meal, to begin with, and focus on being consistent with that meal for a few weeks. Once you are comfortable with your habits, take another step by adding another meal or day of that centers around the concept of clean eating.
Plan Your Meals
If you do not know what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner tomorrow, you may already be in for a bit of trouble. Take control of your dinner table and kitchen by taking a little time to plan! Your goal each week should be to lay out your meal plans for the week so that you do not fall back into those old habits of grabbing a processed meal in a box.
Once you know what your meal plan is for the week, make a grocery list. Grocery lists can be a lifesaver and help you control those impulses to buy things that are not on the list. With that said, seize opportunities to buy certain foods in bulk such as legumes, nuts, and seeds or other foods that will keep.
Try Preparing Enough Food for a Week
There is no hard-set rule that you must prepare a fresh meal every night or throughout the day. Consider preparing enough food for the week so that you are better able to stick with the plan! Most foods will hold for three to five days in the refrigerator, but you also have the option to freeze those meals that you may not be planning to eat until later during the week (i.e., Thursday or Friday). You may even consider purchasing a few meal prep containers to store your foods properly. Nonetheless, feel free to mix and match refrigerator and freezer-friendly meal ideas.
There’s a lot that goes into meal preparation activities including the process of shopping for your foods. You may want to consider purchasing your meals the day before the actual prep work – mainly if you are short on time (i.e., 2-3 hours for meal prep activities). Shop smartly by planning recipes that have some overlap of ingredients. This practice can save you both money and time in the grocery store.
If the task of preparing meals for the week feels a bit daunting, take it slow at first. Schedule time for your meal preparation activities. Don’t be afraid to move the time around to see if there is a certain point in the day that works best for you. Aim for preparing one or two meals at a time until you figure out what works well or not so well. Start by preparing meals you are most comfortable with first. New recipes can take more time and make the task of early preparation feel tedious.
It’s Okay to Repeat the Same Meal More Than Once
You may find yourself eating the same meal more than once for lunch or dinner throughout the week. This decision is just fine as there will be the time that you prepare enough food to eat the same thing more than once. So, during the preparation process, feel free to double-up on the recipe. Enjoy the leftovers and learn what you can about portions for the next time.
Aim For Three To Six Meals Per Day
One of the keys to success with practicing clean eating is to aim for three to six meals per day. This action will help you regulate your blood sugar while also boosting your metabolism. First, your stomach will thank you for not leaving it hungry and craving bad things and for those of you seeking a bit of weight loss, this practice will generally support your quest to shed a few pounds.
Find a way to eat breakfast! Eating breakfast contributes to a powerful metabolism and increases your ability to control your appetite all day long. Skipping breakfast can increase your urge and cravings to consume large amounts of foods and even slip into the dangerous pattern of eating the wrong stuff.
Master Portion Control
Clean eating is healthier than the average diet, but you still have to monitor your portion control –especially if you are in pursuit of weight loss. For those of you who elect to follow a low-carb, clean eating diet, portion control will be necessary when consuming products like brown rice that have high carbohydrate contents. Load up on veggies, adjust your portions for carb-laden dishes.
Stock Up On Clean Eating Snacks
If you enjoy a decent snack, make sure to a stock your snack arsenal with foods that are “clean eating” friendly. The temptation to snack is always there looming in the background, waiting for you to have a stressful moment or skip a meal.
Stay prepared with fresh snacks on the road, at work, and in your home.
Load Up On Veggies
Vegetables are an abundant resource for vitamins, fiber, minerals, proteins, antioxidants and so much more! Try to eat two servings of leafy greens every day to secure an adequate intake of vegetables. Over time, you should plan to build a healthy relationship with your produce department at the grocery store. Veggies are where you will get the biggest bang for your buck. Try to try different vegetables so that you can learn which of these items you like best.
Keep It Fun
Okay, so the last tip encourages you to build a healthy relationship with your produce department and taste every veggie there is! However, over time you will eventually achieve this goal. There is a real risk that you will eventually grow bored with eating the same old healthy foods. Should this happen, there are a few random actions you can take to keep it interesting.
Learn About Seasonal Fruits And Veggies
If you want to keep it interesting or if you are watching your wallet, take some time to learn about seasonal fruits and vegetables. Seasonal purchases are a great way to save money while also enjoying a good harvest.
For the adventurous soul, try something strange each week –meaning, step outside of your comfort zone to taste something new! From new veggies to challenging recipes to a different herb or spice, this is a great way to keep your journey moving while also expanding your palate’s repertoire.
Mix Things Up
Do not settle for the standard or same old combination of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t get caught in a rut by eating the same breakfast every day switch your meals around or pull in elements from your lunch for breakfast. Look for ways to bring life to your salad by giving it a little texture. Try out different mixes of greens, fruits, and proteins in your salad. Jicama, artichokes, and chickpeas can spruce up your salad. Try creating your own salad dressing by combining healthy oils (i.e., olive, grapeseed) and lemon or vinegar with a few spices like cilantro or dill and refrigerate the leftover for the next day.
Check Out a Few Restaurants
Finally, if you find that your old favorite restaurants do not offer the meals you are looking to eat, explore new territory. Venture into a new restaurant, a place that you might not ordinarily visit.
Conduct a bit of research to determine if any new healthy spots are up and running in your city. There is a significant clean eating movement in the restaurant industry. They are committing to serve whole grain, natural foods that are not riddled with bad ingredients.
Cooking Light says there several franchises which offer a clean eating atmosphere to including:
• Jason’s Deli
• Grabba Green
• Pret a Manger
• Shake Shack
• Juice Press
Of course, daring to venture out past your kitchen for a meal can seem scary for most of us looking to stick to the clean eating plan. Thankfully, you the FDA released new labeling requirements during 2014 for chain restaurants to post their nutrition information for foods so that we can make smarter choices.
When possible, treat your dining expedition as you would a trip to the grocery store. Read the label when possible and when not, ask questions if you have any concerns.
Be Okay with Not Being Organic All the Time
Clean eating does not require every morsel that crosses your lips to be organic. Some people embrace a full clean-living lifestyle. They will often impart advice like telling you to choose fruits and veggies that are organic or meat that is organic or grass-fed or farmed seafood. The theory behind making such choices is that these are the best options for reducing your carbon footprint while also consuming foods in a state that is to nature.
It is okay not to eat organic all the time if it’s too expensive for your wallet or not available in your local food market. You are still pretty close to nature whether your veggie is organic or not.
If you are concerned about pesticides, you will be happy to know that only certain fruits and veggies also known as the ‘dirty dozen’ are susceptible to chemicals such as apples, cherries, pears, spinach, nectarines, celery, grapes, peaches, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Enjoy Frozen Opportunities
Frozen fruits and vegetables are an option under the umbrella of clean eating. These are excellent options for those who may not have enough money or time to explore the produce section of their grocery store. Take advantage of these options but pay attention to the labels. Avoid frozen fruits in which sugar is a substance in the bag.
What About Yogurt?
Cookinglight.com confirms that eating a fermented food like yogurt can be tricky. In determining whether or not yogurt is on the clean eating list, there are a few things you must consider about the yogurt. You want to avoid yogurt that contains any artificial flavoring, coloring or additives. This set of criteria means you have to turn your attention to the plain yogurt section in your supermarket.
Plain yogurt is ideal because it contains healthier nutrients than your average container of flavored yogurt. You can add your favorite fruits and even honey to sweeten this snack naturally.
Modify Your Meat Intake and Don’t Forget to Eat Other Sources of Protein
Eating less meat can result in a variety of health benefits for you including lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and a decreased risk of heart disease or stroke. There are multiple ways to get your protein that do not require you to consume meat.
Do not skimp on the protein. You should include a serving of protein with each meal. Alternative sources of protein include eggs, legumes, and unsweetened yogurt. A good rule of thumb is to eat one serving of beans every day.
According to Eat Well, studies indicate that reducing your meat consumption is not only in your best interest, but it is beneficial to the planet. That’s right! Experts estimate that agriculture may account for about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions and the meat industry takes top prize as being among the biggest offenders. This offense is due in part to the number of resources that are necessary to raise and feed animals as well as the methane released from digestion and manure.
Nonetheless, do not let this information deter you from some meat consumption. Clean eating does not ban the consumption of meat. You can have meat. You do however have to make healthier choices. The clean eating regimen challenges us to choose meat that is healthiest for our bodies and closest to the earth.
Should you decide to keep meat in your diet, avoid processed meats. Choose grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone-free, organic lean meats such as:
• Lean red meats
• Uncured, all-natural nitrite and nitrate-free deli meats such as lean ham
• All natural/organic bacon or sausages
Grass fed, pastured raised and organic meats, chicken dairy and eggs are devoid of added chemicals, or antibiotics given to traditionally farmed animals and many are injected with hormones such as estrogen and testosterone to maximize their growth. Grass fed pastured raised and organic tend to taste much better too.
Finally, fish is another excellent source of protein, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. Which seafood is best? Try any of the following:
You can read part 2 of Clean Eating Tips HERE