Spring is here, and we all know those two little words that follow closely after, “SPRING CLEANING.” Instead of cleaning up your home, we decided to try cleaning up our eating style. Treating your body well is just one aspect of healthy living, and this may just be the most important part of your routine.
“Clean eating” is the consumption of whole foods that are zero or very minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible. Though a pretty simple concept, it can be quite the challenge! Everywhere we turn, we seem to be presented with a plethora of processed food, filled with additives, at restaurants, fast food places, and even grocery stores; but don’t fret! We have listed a few guidelines to help you get started. Just remember, this is a process! Start gradually and soon enough you will work your way into a clean eating lifestyle.
- COOK YOUR OWN FOOD
By cooking your own food, you are in control of the sugar, salt, and fat that goes into each dish. You will have the ability to ensure you are taking measures to keep those amounts low and reasonable.
- READ THE NUTRITION LABELS
It is important to learn and get familiar with nutrition labels. they will tell you everything you need to know! Stick to foods with moderately few ingredients and labels containing words like “whole grains” and “whole wheat.” Higher calorie foods are fine as long as the calories are coming from fiber and lean protein. Avoid foods with labels that include words like “hydrolyzed,” or “modified.” They indicate added processing. Also, beware of words ending in “-ose” which indicates added sugars.
- EAT WHOLE FOODS
Whole foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, unsalted nuts/seeds, whole grains, full-fat dairy products, and dried beans/legumes. These unrefined foods haven’t been modified or tampered with, meaning they are free from added sugars, preservatives, dyes, fats, or salts. Whole foods contain more nutrients and fiber which is fundamental for your body to function at top condition.
- AVOID PROCESSED FOOD
This is easier said than done. Processed foods are high in added everything: sugars, salts, trans fats, saturated fats. Processed foods include fruit snacks, chips, candy, cookies, frozen dinners, bottled salad dressings, breakfast cereals, canned soups, bacon, granola bars, instant ramen, and flavored nuts, just to name a few… Try skipping the convenient options and opt to try and make some of these ingredients from scratch using whole foods and ingredients.
- EAT WELL-BALANCED MEALS AND SNACKS
Eat meals that contain the right amount of protein, carbs, and fats. Also, eat the right type! Protein should be lean, carbs should be complex, and fats should come from unsaturated fats. All three are essential to proper body function. Try to eat 5-6 meals a day; 3 small main meals and 2-3 substantial snacks. This will help keep from overeating, skipping meals, or choosing a less healthy, but more convenient option.
- DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES
It is easy to mindlessly drink a smoothie or latte and not realize you just consumed 1/3 of your calorie intake for the day. We can’t say this enough, but water is a must! The more water you drink, the better your body is able to function properly. Soda is never a good choice due to high fructose corn syrup or other refined sugars; plus, there is no health benefit. Fruit juices can also be a poor choice as they contain higher calories and sugar, while offering less nutrients than eating the actual fruit. Making mindful decisions when choosing your beverage of choice is another key component to a clean eating lifestyle.