What is clean eating anyway?
Ever wonder why eating clean is such a big deal?
But first, why am I talking about eating clean to limit exposure?
Great question with a simple answer! Eating clean isn’t just for the health nuts.
Clean eating is basically the practice of eliminating or reducing toxins/chemicals that you consume from your food and beverages. This means little to no packaged/processed foods/drinks. It’s nourishing ourselves and fueling our bodies with nutritious, whole foods. Don't think of clean eating as a diet; think of it as a lifestyle.
Believe it or not I was one that never really thought about what I ate or the impact it may have on my health. Once you start paying attention to what is going in or even on your body you can’t really ignore it. It’s been five years since cleaning up our menu at home. We did start slow, because I not only thought it cost more I thought it took more time.
The cost ends up balancing itself out. When you pay more attention to what and how much you buy; food waste becomes less for sure. Eating clean changes your eating habits. You end up eating to nourish your body and not to satisfy an emotional need. Your pantry definitely takes on a whole new look. Eating healthier fills you up faster and you stay satiated longer. When you eat the right foods and pay attention to your own personal hunger scale you stop the extra snacking. Less money spent.
Sure eating real food takes a little prep, but really it isn't difficult to carve out a couple of hours for meal prep a week. Once you figure out what you and your family like to eat. Get on a schedule. When everything is prepped and ready to cook there is less stress and less opportunity or need to eat out. Make clean eating easy and take baby steps if you need. You want to succeed, right? Why stack the cards against you.
Start by adding more fresh produce to your diet. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of nutrients, fiber and vitamins. If what you're looking for isn't in season the next best thing is frozen produce.
Avoid a lot of over-processed, refined foods, especially white flour and sugar. Heavily processed foods tend to be higher in calories, and most likely may be less nutritious. Many people out there obtain an excessive number of calories from sugar, and from refined carbohydrates in general. Real food will not contain the excess junk. If you are buying packaged food read the labels. The back of the labels. You’ll notice that the front labels of packaged foods are full of claims (natural, healthy, gluten free, etc.). These can be very misleading. Know what you are looking at.
Let's talk a little bit about restriction. Restricting yourself will be your downfall. Don't you feel sometimes that when you restrict yourself from something it makes you want it even more? If you want pizza have pizza. Just don't over do it. Stick to 2 pieces and be done with it. Embrace your indulgence. Remember that indulging is a part of a healthy lifestyle. Obsessing about ingredients, is not. Because really, what is life without a good burger and fries every once in awhile? Moderation is key though. When you eat out, eat out. Unless you're eating out (food prepared outside of the home) more than once a week. In that case, you may want to have a list of healthy menu items to order from.
Eating clean doesn’t mean you have to rid yourself of all guilty pleasures. Far from it, because some clean treats are just as good (if not better) than your regular sugar laden double choc fudge brownie. I personally really love the Beachbody brownie muffin recipe. Or, have you tried the 3-ingredient avocado mousse?? I love it. You can find one of the many recipes here.
So, here are some helpful tips to get you started on your way:
BABY STEPS: Take baby steps. Clean eating can be an easy transition for some. It may only involve a slight change in how they eat everyday. For others it may be a total lifestyle change. A complete overhaul of how they live. No matter where you find yourself just remember that habit change takes time. It's hard to do. You can make small changes as you go, and if you fall off the wagon don’t stress about it. Forgive yourself and move on.
OVERHAUL THE KITCHEN: Clean out the cabinets, pantry and fridge and remove everything that will not support your quest. Fill your fridge with fruit & vegetables for snacking on along with meats or fish. Stock your pantry with whole grains and healthy snacks like raw nuts to munch on throughout the day. Be sure to read labels. If you can't pronounce it look it up.
MEAL PLAN AND PREP: Eating clean will be easier when you are prepared. Plan your meals ahead of time. I like to have a month calendar for dinners and a weekly schedule planned for all meals and snacks. That way there is no guessing game involved. Keep it simple. We use the same recipes every week. Sundays are my day of choice to get organized and cook up what ever is needed for the week or even the month. The freezer is my friend. Life during the week becomes so much easier when you eliminate cooking time.
MAKE A LIST: Use a list when grocery shopping. It helps you to not stray. You can keep the list the same every week. Stick to your list. It will help keep you focused and less likely to stock your cart with junk food.
HOLIDAYS/CELEBRATIONS: Holidays and birthdays can be difficult to stay on track. It doesn't have to be though. You don't need to give up clean eating because there is a birthday party on your calendar. You can 'clean' up recipes by substituting ingredients. For instance, use organic can sugar instead of granulated sugar, or unsweetened applesauce instead of vegetable oil. There is a separate post coming on surviving the holidays.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS: You want to succeed, so plan to succeed. If you are new to clean eating or any change in habit for that matter choose a date that is right for you. I wouldn't necessarily begin my clean eating journey in the middle of the holiday season or when you are on a destination vacation.
There are countless benefits from clean eating. Here are some of the great things that you may experience when you start to eat clean:
You’ll become more mindful.
You’ll save money. You will become healthy. Trips to the clinic will diminish. You will be fueling your body with what it needs. Planning clean meals for the week is cost-effective if you make a list and stick to it. There’s no chance of overspending at the store. When you plan out your meals unplanned stops at the local fast food joint won't occur.
You’ll have more energy and cravings will go away.
You'll be happier.
You'll become more regular.
Excess weight will fall right off.
What do I do now?
In my health coaching practice, I lead clients through a step-by-step process to learn how to eat mindfully and to learn what to eat for their unique body type. If you are ready to say “YES” to yourself, then click here now to schedule a time to talk with me about how you can learn to eat 'clean'. I’ll help you understand what’s been blocking you and show you how to get started on your way!
To your health!