Everyone is talking about clean eating. The concept hasn’t really been around that long and I bet many of us have been eating clean for quite some time. Today I want to talk about what it is and share some hacks to make clean eating simple for you to enjoy and not stress over.
What Clean Eating Is and What It Is Not
As a teen and young adult, I have endured a bit of teasing because of my food choices. I have always loved veggies and salads. Because I was from Texas, sometimes I have mistaken healthy foods for vegetables. Let me explain. Many times, Texans and southerners will take a healthy “clean” food and create a deep fried creation and call it something that has nutrients. I am a guilty as the next person, but we can’t kid ourselves. This is not a clean food.
The definition of a “Clean” food is one that hasn’t been changed from it’s original form and natural state. Veggies straight off the vine or out of the ground are best and have amazing nutrients and enzymes. If the food did not arrive in a box and hasn’t been changed, it is more likely clean. The body is designed to eat and utilize fresh foods more efficiently that processed foods.
Clean meats have become a discussion as of late, and this can mean many things. Typically, most eating plans call for organic chicken, salmon, and turkey and perhaps red meats in a limited portion size . If you have a plant based diet, then you may already be using tofu and other nutrient, protien rich food choices in your diet.
A quick mention of salads should be offered within this discussion of the definition of clean eating. Salad dressings are many times the culprit to taking a wonderful clean meal and turning it into a calorie laden and non-healthy, non-clean meal. When you purchase your dressing, take a look at the label and you will see, the largest ingredient is some sort of oil, dairy product, or mayonaise. Many times this oil is low quality and sometimes rancid. Not very appitizing, is it? The easiest and best way to ensure a healthy and fresh dressing choice is to make your own. Use equal parts of organic avocado oil and your favorite vinegar and add fresh herbs and spices, and you have a wonderful clean dressing. Another low calorie option is lemon juice.
Begin to add into your shopping sprees, a visit to a veggie stand or better yet, grow your own vegetables and fruit. The benefits are amazing as you help your environment locally when you have a garden, but you support the local bee population as they pollinate the fruits and veg you are nurturing. All in all, when you pay attention to the quality and freshness of your ingredients you begin to make clean eating simple.
Do’s and Don’ts When Starting With Clean Eating
If you are brand new to clean eating, you might be getting a little overwhelmed with all the information out there. There is a lot to learn, from what you can and can’t eat, to how much, how to read labels for ingredients, and when to exercise. Here is a simple list of some do’s and don’ts that will help you navigate this new healthy lifestyle.
First up, let’s talk about what you can do while you are clean eating. These are some easy tips and guidelines to live by to help eating clean work best for you.
Eat Breakfast Daily – With clean eating, you want to have enough fuel to get you through the day, so make sure you are having breakfast each morning. Having a protein shake, smoothie, or oatmeal is totally fine. Just put something in your body within the first hour of waking.
Eat More Frequently, Smaller Meals – To keep your metabolism up and increase fat burning, eat smaller meals, but more frequently. Instead of three larger meals a day, split up your calories and other macros into 5-6 meals a day, including a snack or two.
Meal Prep and Plan – It is vital that you are fully prepared for anything that might come up, which starts with planning all meals and snacks. If you plan on going on a hike or traveling, have plenty of clean eating snacks you can bring with you. Planning ahead will make clean eating simple and give you a head start on each day.
Choose Natural Fruit Sources – Instead of having added sugar in your diet, go for natural sugar sources, like raw honey or fresh fruit.
There are also some common mistakes people tend to make while eating clean. Here are some of those important ‘don’ts’ to keep in mind.
Eat Packaged Foods – One of the simplest ways to eat cleaner is to avoid packaged and processed food. This means skipping all those bags of chips and crackers, packaged cookies, and processed carbs like white rice and white pasta. Stick to stuff you can make or bake from scratch.
Drink Empty Calories – There is no reason you should be drinking soft drinks and sugary fruit juice during the day. These are definitely not clean, have no nutritional value, and are just adding on the calories and fat you don’t need. Instead, stick to water, tea, some coffee, and juice you make at home.
Skip the Healthy Fats – While you want to avoid excessive amounts of fat like from butter, margarine, and red meat, other fats are healthy and can keep you full. Don’t forget to add in healthy fats like nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and avocados. Read labels can really save you calories and add years to your life.
Tips for Surviving Clean Eating
While clean eating is one of the simpler healthy lifestyles to understand, it does have its restrictions just like everything else. The important thing to remember is that you are eating whole, fresh foods, avoiding most things that are packaged and processed, and are beginning to read labels and cook more at home. Here are some additional tips to help with your clean eating diet.
Eat Lots of Fruits and Veggies
The first big change you might make is eating more fresh and frozen produce. A good portion of your meals and snacks will be of fruits and vegetables. If you currently eat a lot of fruit, but not much veggies, it’s time to switch it up. By having a good amount of both throughout the day, you stay full, get plenty of nutrients, and have enough variety in your diet so you don’t get bored. Frozen produce and even some canned veggies are okay, just make sure you are checking the ingredients to ensure it is clean.
Enjoy Your Whole Grains
If you are coming off diets like low-carb or Keto, you might not be used to having this carb, but clean eating is not a low-carb diet. While it is a reduced carb diet simply by taking away things like white rice and processed breads, you still want carbs for every meal and snack. Your meals should consist of a protein and a carb, many times with whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Filling up on whole grains increases your nutrients and keeps you energized for the day, so ti is definitely recommended.
Always Have Snacks Ready to Go
You want to be as prepared as possible to survive clean eating and get to the point where it is a simple lifestyle change. One way to do this is by having enough snacks on hand that are clean. This means enough fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds in portion-controlled containers or bags, and any homemade snacks you have prepared like granola or oatmeal bites.
Meal Plan and Prep Weekly
Along these lines, you should also be planning out every meal for the week and prepping as much as possible. With clean eating, getting convenience foods while you’re out is not as easy, and most fast food is not considered clean, so you still need to plan to provide the majority of your own meals and snacks at home. If you can prep things like casseroles, making salads, and chopping veggies, then you are more likely to eat those meals instead of getting pizza.
Add Clean Eating to Your Daily Habits
As you enjoy success in how you feel each day, you will begin to be more and more motivated to continue this way of life. Your body will crave clean foods and you will have more energy and possibly lose a few pounds from your new food choices. Eliminating processed foods and sticking with nutrient dense food choices, will give you an edge and amazing start to each day.
Pick a day to prepare and package the food you will have for three days. Since the meals are fresh, don’t prepare too far in advace to avoid food waste. Sunday afternoons can be a relaxing and fun time to do meal preperation. Check online to see if there are local companies or gyms that offer this type of service, if food prep isn’t something you care to do. Clean Eating is a great way to get the foods you need to thrive and if you can make it simple, that is even better!!
Challenge to You
Next steps are:
- Create a plan for you to adopt for 2 weeks. Use a meal planner or research a meal delivery service with clean meals.
- Journal during this 2 week period and write down how you are feeling through the challenge.
- At the end of the two weeks, come up with a tiny habit to work into your life style that helps you towards your goal.
- Tell a friend about your plan and celebrate when you complete your goal.
Kathy Denise Hicks is a Personal Trainer/Corrective Exercise Specialist, and author. She currently inspires clients to incorporate habits which alleviate joint and muscular pain, increase energy, and attain their ideal weight. Kathy’s mantra “No Pain, More Gain” is truly exemplified through her coaching technique and expertise.
I am ready to help you if you want to get to the next level in your health journey. Give my Free 14 Day Workout a Try and you will notice the difference. Cardio/Strength, Pilates, Body Rolling and Brain Health. Full body attention to create a fit life.