Clean eating
I’m sure you’ve heard about eating clean at least once or twice before. Perhaps you brushed it off as one of the new fads or maybe it raised your interested brows. Either way, If your health holds any meaning to you, then clean eating should also hold a powerful place in your heart.

What’s clean eating all about anyway?

Clean eating is an eating pattern that focuses on fresh, whole foods. It’s all about eating real, unprocessed foods which are good for you and your body.

The first time, I heard about it, I thought it has to do with food being clean or dirty but rather its idea is for us to consume foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

Clean eating gives you control over food because you don’t get sucked into craving all the bad sugars, salts, and fats your body don’t need.  Instead, you live to be in control over what you put into your body and that gives you a sense of accomplishment, power, and health.

Eating clean doesn’t have to be all or nothing, just like any other healthy habits, clean eating is a steady practice. It’s more of a lifestyle than dieting, as so many people would think it to be (constantly using it to get skinny).

It a conscientious approach towards what you eat. Always working to eliminate unnecessary sugars, fats and junk from your diet and also crushing your sugar cravings. All you need to do is make a slight change to your normal diet. Do that for a couple of weeks, and then try another one.

Clean eating gets easier and easier once you understand the basic concepts. Here are simple steps to begin clean eating as a lifestyle;

1. Cook Your Own Food

Cooking your own food makes you be in control of what you eat.  That is, you can control the salt, sugar, flavors, and fats that go in and you can work to keep those levels as low as possible. Regardless that they don’t taste so well like restaurant food, but you’re sure and you’re aware of what you’re eating. And being aware is just OK for you.

2. Read Nutrition Labels

Although eating clean is based on whole, fresh foods, there’re certain types of packaged foods that can be included. So you’ll need to get pretty familiar with nutrition labels because they’ll tell you everything you need to know about the foods you’re considering buying to eat.

Look for labels with relatively few ingredients and consider each ingredient in terms of, “Is this an ingredient I would cook with in my kitchen?”  If not, pass.  Always pay attention to and avoid foods with labels that include words like, “hydrolyzed,” or “modified,” as those indicate added processing and words that end in “-ose” because those indicate added sugars (think fructose).  Look for labels with “whole grains” and “whole wheat” in the ingredients.

If the food is high in calories, make sure the sugar levels, sodium levels, and saturated fat are low and that the calories are coming from the fiber and lean proteins instead.

3. Make Water Your Primary Beverage

While mindfully deciding about what foods to eat, you also need to be mindful about what liquid to drink. And Water is the number one thing you should be drinking all day, every day.

Water is the healthiest and most natural beverage you can drink. There are no added sugars, artificial sweeteners or other questionable ingredients. It is by definition the “clean” beverage. So, get yourself water filled bottle and target to consume a lot of water per day.

The amazing thing about replacing your usual soda with water is the more you drink, the thirstier you are for more water. Drinking water has its special benefits, it’ll not only keep you hydrated and allow your body to function well, but it’ll also keep you from getting hungry.

Also, limit your intake of alcohol. Alcohol turns to sugar, so if you’re drinking every day, it’s hard to limit your sugars because you’ll be drinking up your calories.

4. Eat Whole Foods

Choosing whole foods begins your journey into clean eating. Whole foods are food that hasn’t been processed, modified or tampered with, that is, no additional sugars, preservatives, fats or salt. Whole foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, unsalted nuts/seeds, whole grains, full-fat dairy products, and dried beans/legumes.

Nutrients from whole food are unchanged and remain the same with no added junk which is very good for your body system.

5. Make Healthy Foods Easily Accessible

You’re likely to eat the first thing you see on the counter or cupboard whenever you get hungry. That’s why it’s super important to keep healthy foods readily available always if you really want to succeed in eating healthy.

Make them visible in your home and workplace. Place fruits in a bowl or basket on top of your refrigerator or kitchen counter, store healthy snacks at eye level in your pantry and make sure to stock up your fridge with small batches of cooked whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits regularly.

6. Watch Out for Processed Food

I’m not opposed to all processed foods because when we chop, mix and cook at home we are processing foods to eat. But, some of the processed foods at stores are processed beyond recognition and certainly, nature didn’t make them like that.

Of course, they often appear convenient but, convenience can mean large amounts of hidden sodium, fats, and sugar. Instead of buying these items at the store for convenience, next time; consider making them from scratch, using whole ingredients.

Although clean processed foods exist like plain yogurt, cheese, mayo, whole-wheat pasta, and packaged baby spinach but you just have to read the ingredient list and keep an eye out for anything with lots of sugar and refined grains.

7. Eat Balanced Meals

When it comes to eating a balanced meal, most of us aren’t getting it right. So try to ensure the foods you’re choosing contain the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fats since all four are essential to your body functioning properly.

8. Substitute Vegetables in Recipes

Make it a habit to add more vegetables in your salads; you can bump up your veggie intake by using them in place of some refined or processed grains in your recipes. For example, cauliflower can be chopped finely to serve as rice, mashed like potatoes or used in pizza crust; here are a few recipes that use cauliflower as a substitute:

You can use Zucchini to makes great “zoodles” and other alternatives to pasta and starches, here are few recipes that use zucchini:

The goal is to allow you to gradually learn to replace pasta, rice and other refined grains with veggies that taste great, keep your meal clean and improve the nutritional value of what you’re eating.

9. Fall in Love with Nuts and Seeds

Seeds and nuts are super foods that are generally packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals (like zinc, calcium, magnesium, etc) and let’s not forget some good healthy fats too. Seeds and nuts like cashew nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond nuts, flaxseed are nutritional powerhouses.

Add them to your favorite baking recipes and cereals or simply munch on a hand full of them (yes, only a hand full when it comes to nuts because they can be heavy on calories) instead of your usual candy bar.

Clean eating
How to Get Started Eating Clean

Probably thinking about how to start? You’ll have to understand this is just a replacement to the foods you’re used to.  To start, you’ll need to take one step at a time because your body and mind need more of a gradual transition. Don’t go straight from drinking 5 bottles of cream soda, a day to only drinking water, because it won’t work and you’ll fail. Rather replace one of those sodas with a glass of water to start.  Then, tomorrow, replace two, and so on. And as time goes on, you’ll be surprised how far you have come on your own.

This a new lifestyle, and change doesn’t happen overnight, so treat it that way and take it easy until you fully embrace everything and then it will feel normal to eat clean.

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