Eating clean is a phrase that seems to appear everywhere. Whether you’re on Pinterest, browsing the web, overhearing people at the gym or looking through a magazine, it keeps popping up. Many people think of it as another complicated diet or some regimented way of eating, but the true definition is rather basic.
Clean Eating, or to “eat clean,” simply means having as many whole or raw foods as possible and balancing a connection between mind and consumption. Rather than looking at restricting what you eat, change the way food serves its vital purposes to your body.
That in mind, clean eating also means that you try to keep your foods extremely bare and close to their original state; eliminating processed, refined and modified ingredients and letting your body thrive from your food’s natural nutrients.
Ideally, through “eating clean,” you allow your food to become a source of fuel for your daily regimen and in time adopt a positive attitude towards the nutritious food helping you to thrive in life.
Another common misconception towards this way of eating is approaching it as anything but a lifestyle. Eating clean is not a diet, it is a lifestyle. Clean eating foods are not about less carbs or more proteins, being restrictive or intended to be regimented. Ideally, it is to be in tune with your bodies nutritional needs based upon your cravings, personal dietary needs, intuitive eating and striving to give your body proper nutrition.
Wondering where to begin, what to eat and how to thrive from your foods?
Tip 1 – Just the Bare Necessities
Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store because that is where all the whole foods are kept (ex. produce, meat, dairy). Read labels, as well. A great example is the difference between a typical box of cereal and a tub of oatmeal, go ahead compare the ingredients. Flip the box over and look right under the nutritional facts. Notice that the cereal has about twenty ingredients (similar to a science experiment), while the oatmeal has just one. “RED FLAG!”
Basic ingredient lists are the better the choice. Eating clean is an initiative to eat as many whole foods as possible and avoid the processed products. That being said, keep a rule for grocery buying: “Five ingredients or more, it doesn’t leave the store!”
Tip 2 – Prep Ahead
Each week you should devote time to planning out your menu and preparing meals for days ahead of you. Buying vegetables, protein sources, fruits and nuts on sale will not only help to save money, but also make your daily decisions easy. Portion your snack food into sandwich bags. This makes your healthy snacks just as simple and easy to grab as the unhealthy bag of chips.
Clean eating isn’t challenging if you make a plan and stick to it. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator during the day, you can keep a small cooler on hand with your prepped meals and snacks. It helps simplify the process of daily decisions and keep impulsive hangry food choices on a lull.
Tip 3 – Eat a Rainbow of Colors
Variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to eating clean. When you look down at your plate, you should see a rainbow of colors ready for consumption. Peppers, squashes, berries, apples and many other whole foods tend to come in vibrant colors. These foods are exactly what to pile on your plate, filling up on fiber and nutrient dense foods such as kale, broccoli or cabbage are going to give you satiety to keep you from feeling hungry.
Remember, clean eating is not about eating less, but rather eating more of what your body needs. Make it a personal goal to try a new vegetable at least once a week and find fun recipes that will work within your household.
Tip 4 – Make it a Combo Deal, Please!
No, this is not a BigMac, fries and coke combo… it is a lean protein and complex carb duo, instead. Lean proteins like, chicken or fish, paired with brown rice and some veggies is a complete meal. If you’re anything like me, egg whites, kale and quinoa doesn’t seem appetizing for breakfast. Don’t worry, oatmeal, natural peanut butter and a banana is also a perfect combo deal! Most importantly here: always have a source of protein in every meal or snack to keep you full longer.
Tip 5 – Eat More Often
One common trend with eating clean is having more frequent meals in smaller portions. This isn’t necessary for everyone, but it does serve an important purpose. Frequent meals, in smaller portions more often keep your insulin levels balanced and that hangry attitude at bay. After about two days into a diet, you will notice a change in mood. It’s likely that the dieter’s sugar is low, they haven’t had enough to eat and are really feeling irritable towards the world. Don’t let yourself to get to that point. Having those small meals throughout the day provides the satiety you need to keep on keeping on, without being slowed down.
Eating clean is a wonderful lifestyle to embrace, one that you’ll reap only positive benefits from. Start to incorporate these five tips in your initiative to eat clean, stay in tune with your body as eating habits change and, most importantly, enjoy the rewards that comes from your efforts.
Mika Rotunda |CW44 Tampa Bay