Clean eating is more than a diet. It is more about improving your way of eating. Clean eating can help you change your way of living so that it improves your health and well-being. Clean eating includes a few fundamental principles that line up with basic ideas of a healthy diet:
- Eat more real foods. Eating more “real foods” means consuming less processed and refined, packaged food is good, just make sure that the food you’re eating is real with a few other ingredients.
- Focus on nourishment. Eat balanced and nourishing meals and snacks, and don’t rush eating. It is easier to do this if you eat at home more often and prepare food. Try packing food to eat at work, when you’re on the road, or doing an activity. When you do eat out, choose wisely.
- Include more plant-based foods. Eating more veggies and fruits is a great way to get healthier food into your diet. Try eating more plant-based proteins, like beans, lentils, and peas. High-protein whole grains are also the right choice and include quinoa, barley, and wild rice.
- Clean up your life. Having a cleaner lifestyle is easier said than done, but not impossible. Get plenty of physical activity during the day, enough sleep at night, and focus on managing stress in healthy ways.
The “clean-eating” trend shows no signs of stopping, and while it’s great that people are choosing more unprocessed (or at the very least, slightly processed) foods, there is this idea that calories don’t matter. While you should not obsessively track the calories you eat, you should still pay attention to them.
Of course, there are already so many things other people tell us to do, especially women, and they can often make us feel bad about ourselves when we “fail” at a new diet. And let’s not forget that we live in a world with a limitless amount of product claims, especially food, making it harder to know the best choices. Here are a few things that may help you when trying to eat better:
- Look for resources online. Social media is a great way to help inspire your health goals. There are many things you should consider when looking for advice that can make it easier to find more real, whole foods to eat. One important thing to avoid is advice, whether from a blog, Instagram post, or video on YouTube, that generalizes information. Just because one eating style works for certain people, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
- “Healthy” is subjective. Your health is highly personal, and how we define health is different for everyone. Your emotional, mental, and physical well-being all play a part in your health, but you shouldn’t sacrifice one to prioritize another. Your goal should be to be healthy overall.
- Eat more plants, more frequently. Someone repeated telling you to eat more vegetables doesn’t mean “eat only vegetables, all the time.” You should try your best to make sure that your meals include some kind of veggie-based option but should also include other parts of a truly balanced diet. Try to be open to different types of vegetables, making eating them more of an adventure than a chore.
- Ugly Food is Just as Good. The one bad thing about social media is the rise of people striving to make an Insta-worthy salad bowl or smoothie bowl. Eating a salad can be a bland experience, and that’s ok! Consider looking for ways to tweak your meals. Add extra veggies to your sandwich order next time you go to Subway or include fruit with your snack. The goal should be to add more to the foods you already like to eat to become more nutritious, delicious, and, most importantly, filling.
- Take a Better Look at “Healthy” Snacks. The best thing about candy, cake, and other desserts is that they don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are: sugar-filled and delicious, but not good for us in excess. No one has ever eaten a piece of cake, or a candy bar thought, “Wow, this is so healthy!” Many snacks, from granola bars to energy bars, are full of sugar and salt. Next time you’re tempted by a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” deal on Clif Bars, take a look at the ingredients.
- Fresh Isn’t the Only Way to Eat. Fresh food is excellent for all of the apparent reasons, but often we forget about items that are just as healthy in their preserved state. Whether they are canned or frozen, vegetables, fruit, and low salt beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas can keep their peak nutritional quality and often cost a lot less. When you focus on eating real, whole food, especially food that is close to its natural, original version, you’ll realize that it’s easier than you thought to eat whole foods.
- Not All Packaged Food is Bad. A lot of experts recommend buying food that has a short ingredients list or ingredients you can pronounce. Of course, there are a lot of exceptions. 100% whole-grain bread has a lot of different 100% whole grains. Grains like quinoa and amaranth are commonly mispronounced but are incredibly healthy to eat! There is also a lot of healthy food that is good for you but is packaged, like canned tuna, ready-to-eat hard-boiled eggs, and frozen cauliflower rice.
As stated before, clean eating concentrates on whole foods that are minimally processed and are close to their natural form. When you adopt a clean eating plan, you follow the most simple and effective way to lose weight and boost your health overall. And when you rely less on processed, store-bought items and start cooking more meals at home, you’ll notice that you can save money. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your clean eating journey:
- Too much added sugar causes a wide array of health issues. When you’re cleaning up your diet, opt for healthy substitutes for your favorite sweet treats. This substitution can help satisfy cravings and keep you on track with your goals.
- Many people depend on fast food and other quick meals that are usually unhealthy to help them get through busy days. Another important aspect of clean eating involves knowing what is in your diet is significant, and cooking for yourself is the easiest way to control what goes in food and, ultimately, your body.
- Stick to the perimeter of a grocery store, where fresh produce and healthy protein options like eggs, yogurt, and meat usually stocked. The inside aisles are where the generally unhealthy food is on display, items like chips, candy, soda, but there are healthier items like nuts and canned vegetables. Try shopping on the perimeter before making your way through the aisles.
- It is common for people to reach for “diet” foods such as low-fat dressings, diet soda, meal replacement bars, and fat-free yogurt. These foods can be loaded with artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and added sugar to make up for the lack of fat, aka flavor. Stick to whole, non-diet foods like unsweetened, but full-fat yogurt and natural peanut butter that contains no added sugar.
- Leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and mustard greens can be easily incorporated into any meal and boost the nutritional value.