The Basics Of Clean Eating
People often ask me this question. Most people think the answer will be hard, but they are surprised when they find out it’s not that hard to start eating clean foods. In this beginner guide, you’ll learn how to eat clean, make good recipes, make a good dietary food list, use clean eating to lose weight, and a clean meal plan.
Changing any habit is hard, but we seem to have the hardest time when it comes to food. In 2010, when I started trying to lose weight, I had never heard of “clean eating.” In fact, at that time, I cared more about how many calories I was eating than how good the food was.
Even though we made most of our meals from scratch, many were still made in a factory. I did not pay attention to preservatives, food coloring, or artificial colors because, to be honest, I didn’t know I needed to. A few months into my plan to lose weight, I saw the movie Food Matters and read the book Defending Food.
At that point, I changed the way I thought about food and started to pay attention to the quality of my food. I have learned more about a clean eating diet since then. Honestly, I don’t think of clean eating as a diet. I think of it more as a way of living and eating. You can still eat the foods you like, but they will be better for you.
What is healthy eating?
Clean eating means eating whole foods as close to their natural state. These foods don’t have any additives, preservatives, or anything else that isn’t natural, and they haven’t been changed much, if at all. Clean eating can be thought of: food shouldn’t come in a box, package, mix, or bag.
I will say that grocery stores have changed a lot since I started eating clean, so it’s much easier to find quick options with clean ingredients. Generally, the more additives a food has, the dirtier it is, so it’s important to read labels. If it has more than a few things in it or some of them are hard to say, it’s not clean.
Benefits of eating healthy
- When you eat well, your body is full and healthy, and you look healthier and feel better overall.
- You don’t get the highs and lows from sugar that you do from refined flour and sugar.
- You don’t feel slow or tired and can concentrate much better.
- Eating foods high in nutrients makes it easier to keep a healthy weight.
The basics of healthy eating
Clean eating is a lot easier to stick to than most other diets. You don’t have to give up any food groups, and fitting into your life is easy. Some individuals abstain from all processed foods, whereas others aren’t as strict.
Here are the rules I follow to live a clean and healthy life:
- Eat five small meals all day long. This plan gives you three meals and two snacks, which help you control your hunger and portion sizes all day.
- Every day, drink 64 ounces of water. Staying hydrated is important because it gives you energy, helps you concentrate, and keeps your body running right. Smoothies, green juice, and other healthy drinks count towards your daily water intake, but coffee, fruit juice with a lot of sugar, and soda do not.
- Reduce or eliminate “diet food.” This includes anything that is light, low in fat or has no fat. I know we’ve been told to use these foods to lose weight, but they are full of additives, chemicals, and additives and will cause more harm than good. Eat only real foods.
- Eat whole grains, and don’t eat anything white. During processing, the nutrients are taken from white bread, pasta, and rice. Instead, eat whole grains like brown rice, whole grain bread, whole grain or gluten-free pasta, and other whole grains.
- Eat nuts, seeds, and legumes. Beans have fiber and nutrients, and nuts have healthy fats that keep you full. Choose canned and dry organic beans. Also, nuts and seeds that aren’t covered in salt, spices, or sugar are better than those that are.
- Use good fats. Stay away from processed margarine and oils containing trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals. Instead, use olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee, or real butter when making a recipe.
- Eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Both fresh and frozen are good. Try to buy organic once you can, but if you can’t, don’t worry. It’s always better to consume more fruits and vegetables than not.
- Eat wild-caught fish and lean meats that are organic and grass-fed. This is the first part of my diet where I made good changes. This can get expensive, but I don’t mind spending more on this area. It tastes better, is better for your health, and is more environmentally beneficial.
- Reduce or eliminate sugar. I know this one is hard. I could never abandon it completely, yet I try to keep it in check and use coconut sugar, maple syrup, and honey as healthy alternatives. I don’t use any sugar substitutes. It’s also important to check labels to see if Greek yogurt, drinks, salad dressings, sauces, and other foods have added sugar.
- Stay in and eat. I usually avoid fast food and restaurants and only go to them on special occasions. Even though there are now healthier options, cooking at home remains cleaner.
How to Start Clean Eating
Take small steps to get started. Don’t just stop drinking soda and start drinking only water. You will fail if you do that. Your body needs the change to happen more slowly. Start by placing a glass of water in one of these sodas. Then, change two tomorrow, and so on.
If you have sweetened creamer and sugar in your coffee every morning, you will hate it if you try to drink it black. Try cutting back on the amount of sugar you use and then the amount of creamer. In a week or two, you might not even want coffee (which is what happened to me).
I know because I’ve been there. This is a new way of life, not a quick trend, so treat it as such and ease into it till you can fully embrace everything. Then, eating clean will feel like nothing out of the ordinary. Think about replacing the foods you’re used to with ones that are better for you.
For example, eat an apple and a handful of unsalted almonds instead of a candy bar. Instead of sour cream, put Greek yogurt on your baked potato. Instead of white bread, choose bread with whole grains. Every step you take towards clean eating is a good step; over time, your body will get used to the clean way of life.