“Clean Eating” is a buzzword going around in the health/wellness industry that basically means eating REAL foods instead of PROCESSED foods. Depending on whom you ask, this can mean DRASTICALLY different things.
Some think clean eating is plant-based whole foods, some say it is anything NOT packaged, some people consider it just giving up white sugar and flour, and some hard core clean eaters will say raw foods in their whole natural state ONLY!
Here’s what I think…I think the Standard American Diet SUCKS! Obviously! Look around. There is more obesity AND fatigue than ever. Not only are people over-eating, but they are STILL not getting enough nutrients to stay healthy and energized. Our society relies on coffee, soda, and mid-afternoon snacks to get us through a normal day which usually consists of sitting around and maybe moving your arms to type or answer a phone.
So I think ANY change you make toward a cleaner diet is a step in the right direction. Remember, small changes over time become big changes.
Here are some baby steps you can take toward a cleaner diet…
1. Drink more water. Ideally half your pound weight in ounces…so if you weigh 150, 75 ounces is your goal which is a little over 2 quarts. If you are active you need more and if you drink coffee or eat a lot of salt, sugar, or caffeine, you will need to add more to your daily goal.
2. Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast is good for both weight loss and overall health. Studies (and my personal experience) show that when you eat a good nutritious breakfast, you are less likely to overeat or snack on crap later in the day. And yes, I’m sure some study used the word “crap”!
3. Eat more veggies. This one is HUGE! And we ALL know we need to eat more veggies. At least 5 servings a day is ideal (1 cup=1 serving). They are low calorie, nutrient packed, and will fill you up so you don’t have room for the junk.
4. Eat more fruit. This is a challenge for a lot of people who have been brainwashed into thinking fruit is bad because it is “sugar”. Fruit is full of nutrients and STILL lower calorie than most sweet snacks. Aim for 5 servings a day too (1/2 cup=1 serving). When I eat more fruit, my “sweet tooth” disappears!
5. Avoid sugar. Processed sugar is not necessary to the human body, we don’t need it! Plus it’s highly addictive (you know what I am talking about) and one of the biggest culprits for the rise of obesity in children and adults in this country. Notice how I said “avoid sugar” not NO sugar. I’m not crazy! I like the occasional vegan cinnamon roll or snickerdoodle cashew milk ice cream too, just read your labels because there is hidden sugar in places you can’t even imagine!
6. Avoid trans fats. Trans fats are also hidden in your food, but mainly in packaged and processed foods, so the more you eat real, whole foods, the less you need to worry about trans fats. They are a cheap way to give foods a desired texture and taste and most commonly show up on labeling as “partially hydrogenated oils”.
7. Avoid artificial ANYTHING (coloring, flavoring, sweeteners). It’s sad we even have to worry about this one, but our government has not caught up with the rest of the world in banning many of these substances in our foods. Bummer! But we can do our part by reading labels and learning the dangers of artificial stuff (mostly chemicals) added to our foods to help them get a certain color, taste, shape, or shelf life.
8. Avoid dairy. I know what you are thinking. “I can’t live without cheese”. I was the same way. It took me 10 years to go from vegetarian to vegan because of my precious cheese! But dairy is the highest inflammation causing food we can put into our bodies and so many of us are suffering from illnesses, injuries, and pain that is caused by inflammation in our bodies. Plus…we’re the only species that drinks another species’ milk…gross me out the door!
I have a free support group on facebook where we focus on ONE of these challenges for an entire week. We plan our meals, we give each other support and encouragement, we hold each other accountable, and we educate each other with articles, experiences, and stories.
At the end of the 8 weeks, we do a 2 week “clean eating” challenge where we combine everything we practiced in the previous 8 weeks. We also each get to decide how many days we want to eat clean out of the 14. So you don’t have to perfect to succeed! BRILLIANT!
Here is the link to the group if you want to join us…
Here are some great clean recipes if you just want more ideas…
And here is my favorite cheap, quick, and easy clean meal…
See you next week!