Clean eating has become one of the top wellness trends in 2014 and the end of August is a great time to take stock of your nutritional and even lifestyle health. Healthy habits either tend to get very lax over the summer or reach their peak. Which camp have you lived in this summer? The overbooked, I’ve got no time to exercise let alone sleep and these backyard barbeques are killing my waistline? Or perhaps you’ve gotten a little extra sleep in the absence of the morning school rush hour, exercised more often in our cooler summer weather and shopped the farmers markets as everything came into season? If you leaned to the later, now is the perfect time to clean up your eating habits.
What is clean eating? You are eating foods that have been grown naturally and that have not been altered with chemicals, additives, preservatives and ingredients that are hard to pronounce. You are focusing on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and lean fresh caught meats like fish, chicken and wild game.
|Instead of this…||Eat this…|
|Cold processed cereal||Oatmeal|
|Bagel||Homemade, whole grain blueberry muffins|
|Java Chip Frappacino||Yogurt and fresh fruit smoothie|
|Sub||Homemade soup or salad|
|Chicken Pot Pie||Whole, roasted, organic chicken|
|Chips||Popcorn or nuts|
|Candy||Fresh, whole fruit|
Why is clean eating good for you?
People who have traditionally eaten a lot of processed food and don’t consume a balanced diet will reach healthier weights, improve their blood sugar control, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce their risk of many diseases associated with poor diet habits, if they start to eat cleanly.
What’s the downside to clean eating?
If you are starting from a heavily processed diet, it requires you to spend more time planning out your meals for the week, putting together a shopping list and sticking to your menu plan. Meals and snacks can become boring and monotonous for individuals who are picky eaters and those who don’t like to cook. For many, the rigid rules associated with clean eating can result in “another diet failure.: Instead of going “all in,” I suggest people look at the rules as guidelines in which you are free to draw outside the line every now and then and begin with just a few.
Ten Guidelines to Becoming a Cleaner Eater.
- Drink water. Make it your beverage of choice, enjoying it between meals.
- Don’t meal skip. Eat 5-6 times per day, 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. Provide your body with a consistent balance of energy and healthy fuels.
- Avoid foods with long lists of ingredients. Clean labels have very few ingredients.
- Avoid processed foods. These include crackers, cakes, cookies or anything made with white flour, sugar, bread white pasta and white rice. Eat quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat and oats. A great example of how not to become too rigid is to take healthy shortcuts and buy foods processed in a good way such as frozen peaches, bagged spinach and whole-wheat pasta.
- Avoid anything high in saturated and trans fats. Swap out butter, bacon and ribs with olive oil, nuts, eggs and fish. Swap out cheese with crunchy nuts on a salad, swap out mayonnaise on a sandwich with homemade hummus or guacamole and instead of cooking from a jar, make your own pasta, pizza and barbeque sauces.
- Eat lots of plants, 2 ½ to 3 cups per day. They’re rich in fiber, minerals and phytochemicals and low in calories.
- Eat lots of fruits, 1 ½ to 2 cups per day. They’re rich in fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals and relatively low in calories.
- Eat nuts, seeds and beans. Small amounts are rich in fiber, protein, monounsaturated fats and minerals.
- Use natural sweeteners like honey, fresh maple and brown rice syrup.
- Limit your alcohol to one serving per day.
Cleaner eating practices should be an enjoyable meal and snack habit, not a boring, restrictive diet that makes you yearn for a drive-through window.