“Clean Eating” has become somewhat of a buzzword over the last few years, but what does it really entail? Follow these 10 easy steps to get yourself set on the path to clean eating, boosting your efforts at better nutrition and fitness!
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Step 1: Cut out processed foods.
Any food that comes partially prepared (but dried or frozen) can be considered processed. These foods are often high in calories, sodium, fat, and sugars– and that’s not to mention the chemicals and fillers. Start cutting these foods out first and replacing them with fresh foods prepared in your kitchen. It might take some time and need to be a gradual process, or your might be able to go cold turkey.
Step 2: Up your veggies intake.
Most people aren’t getting the recommended amount of veggies in their diets. When you start preparing your own meals from nearly scratch, you’ll find that vegetables can easily make up the bulk of your meals. They’re easy to slip into salads, soups, casseroles, and they make great side dishes. Try a few new vegetables, too! You might not like all of them but it’s really likely that you’ll find a few new gems that you really enjoy.
Step 3: Swap your fats.
Unsaturated fats are everywhere, and they’re not great for us. They’re most commonly found in processed foods, and butter, meat, and cheese. You might not be ready to cut some of these things out completely, and that’s fine, but you can make an effort to limit them. Then, focus on increasing your intake of good fats–the kind found in avocadoes, fish, and olive oil!
Step 4: Reduce your alcohol intake.
The recommended amount is 1 drink per day for women or 2 for men. If you don’t drink, then this isn’t even a problem! If you do drink, think about cutting back, and think hard about what you’re going to be drinking. Especially avoid mixed drinks that are full of sugar!
Step 5: Cut back your sugar intake.
Limit your intake of soda, candy, and baked goods in order to cut back on added sugar. Some sugars occur naturally, and that’s fine, but most modern diets include way too much added sugar, even in things that aren’t sweet! Look for foods where sugar doesn’t show up on the ingredients list (or at least make sure it’s toward the bottom of the list, meaning it’s not used as much as the ingredients above it).
Step 6: Cut back on salt.
Anyone worried about their sodium intake will already know this one, but salt is in everything! Especially in restaurant foods and in processed foods. Try cutting back on the salt by using it a bit less when you cook and not offering it on the dinner table. Experiment with other fresh and dried herbs or seasoning to get interesting tastes without upping the salt content, but beware– lots of premade salses and seasoning packets are total salt bombs, so try to avoid those.
Step 7: Opt for whole grains.
When checking out ingredients, make sure the word ”whole” accompanies the grain name. Also consider swapping out some of your favorite wheat products with oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice!
Step 8: Eat less meat.
It doesn’t mean you have to go vegetarian, but it’s important to acknowledge that we eat an unnatural amount of meat today in our diets. Try #MeatlessMonday where you go vegetarian for one day of the week, or decide that you’ll only have meat in 1-2 meals per day instead of all 3. Cutting back portion sizes can help, and even if you’re going to eat meat, you can opt for healthier options– try using ground turkey for burgers, spaghetti sauce, and chili instead of beef. You’ll more than likely not notice much of a difference in taste or texture, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor!
Step 9: Eat more fruit.
Get the heart-health and weight-loss benefits of fiber by opting for whole fruits instead of juice, and try to add a piece of fruit to breakfast and lunch! You can even serve it as a dessert– a cold fruit salad in the summer is perfect! Toss them into your yogurt or oatmeal in the mornings, eat a banana or apple on the way to your next meeting, or have a pear at your next break. It’s not too hard to do, you just have to choose the fruits that appeal to you most and make sure you keep them on hand!
Step 10: Cut out refined grains.
White flour and refined grains are basically stripped of the nutrients they originally contained, and they’re usually found in processed foods anyway. Cut out crackers, cookies, and cakes that come in packages and you’ve done the bulk of this work. Watch out for bread and pasta too, though– there are more and more whole grain options for these products every day, so you don’t have to give them up. Just make a healthy swap!
What’s your biggest challenge for eating clean?
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