Eating clean means making sure you choose the healthiest option in each food group at every meal (or at least however often you eat them). In order to eat clean, you need to know what your food is made of. And you need to make sure you consume everything in its natural form, as far as is possible. If you want to start living healthier but aren’t sure exactly what to change in your diet, here are five great tips for eating clean.
Stock Up on Fresh Produce
The type of diet you’re following doesn’t really matter. You’ll need to stock up on fresh produce. Always. This is the golden rule of proper nutrition, as your body needs fresh fruits and vegetables to function properly. You can’t get this amount of minerals, vitamins, and other crucial nutrients from other types of food. Plus, eating fresh produce is much healthier and more natural than taking supplements.
Many people don’t eat as many fruits and veggies as they should. To make sure you do, you’ll need to bring some variety to your dishes. The best way to do this is to learn when certain fruits and veggies are in season, since that’s when they’ll taste better (and they’ll be a little less expensive to buy).
If you have a garden, you can also plant some herbs and spices. This will not only provide you with a fun new hobby, but it will also help encourage you to eat healthier by giving you the option to consume foods straight out of your garden. And herbs always bring flavor (in addition to some awesome health benefits of their own) to your dishes.
Limit Processed Foods
It can be pretty hard to avoid processed foods. Almost all the snacks you purchase in your local supermarket are filled with too much fat, sodium, and sugar. Processed foods are basically any foods that have been altered in some way, either for convenience or safety reasons. The main difference between eating processed foods and preparing something at home from scratch is that when you’re preparing something, you know how much sugar and salt you’re adding to the food.
It’s important to note that just because a food is processed doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. For example, milk has to be processed (more specifically, pasteurized) in order to remove harmful bacteria. However, when excess fat, sugar, and salt get added to foods to make them tastier and prolong their shelf life, this opens up the door for you to develop some severe health problems. Consuming a large amount of unhealthy, processed foods can lead to a higher risk of heart disease or cancer.
Focus on the Nutrients
Many people make the mistake of focusing on calories instead of nutrients when they start dieting. However, you need to remember not to get caught up in the numbers game too much. Instead, focus on the nutritional value of the food you’re eating. Just because a certain food is low in calories doesn’t make it healthy. For example, a serving of Jelly Belly jelly beans has only 35 calories and zero grams of fat, but it also has no fiber and 9 grams of carbohydrates (7 of which are from sugar).
Although you should make sure you’re not consuming too many calories, it’s much more important to pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods you’re eating. One surefire way to consume all the nutrients your body needs while keeping your calorie count low is to stock up on fresh produce, as mentioned above.
Don’t Be Too Strict
Remember, it’s completely okay to have a cheat meal sometimes. If your diet is too strict, then you might end up dreading mealtime every day, and that’s no way to live. To stay on the right track, you might want to indulge in some enjoyable unhealthy food (like those Jelly Belly jelly beans?) one day each month, just to keep from going out of your mind.
Drink More Water
Sometimes, when you’re feeling “blah,” all you need to do to feel better is to drink more water. By drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water each day, you will feel healthier and more energized, and this will increase your motivation to eat clean. Unfortunately, many people consider water “boring” due to the extremely high number of flavored drinks that are available. Note: there are natural water flavor enhancers that can solve this problem, to some extent. And if you’re looking for healthy drinks besides water, check out this post. However, water is an essential nutrient that should never be overlooked.
While eating clean can be challenging, it is perfectly doable — and so worth it. For a handy guide to eating clean, check out this popular book on Amazon. You’ll be eating clean like a pro in no time!