It can be overwhelming at first, especially if you have a lot of changes to make. Taking baby steps, and making small changes every day will let you get used to this new lifestyle. Pretty soon, eating clean will come naturally to you.
So what exactly is clean eating and where do you start?
1) Lot of fruits, vegetables, beans, lean meats, and fish.
2) No alcohol. This is pure sugar. If you must drink - limit it to 1 drink per day.
3) Nothing white, try whole grain instead! White sugar, white bread, white rice, cookies, chips etc. In short, these foods have a high glycemic value - which cause a rapid spike in blood sugar - which releases the hormone insulin. Insulin prevents the body in breaking down fat.
4). Don't eat anything fried.
5). Drink lots of water! Avoid sodas and juices - those are loaded with sugar. The sugar free kind is not good for you either.
6). Avoid sugar substitutes and anything containing them! These are linked to weight gain. They trick your body - thinking it is receiving sugar, so you get an insulin spike. Since you are not actually putting any sugar into your body, this promotes hunger and increases calorie intake at your next meal. Besides the weight gain, sugar substitutes are linked to cancer - and are not natural. You want to avoid putting toxins in your body!
7). Nuts and seeds are great for snacking. I always carry some in my bag to munch on when I get hungry. But don't forget the portion size! As a general rule - don't eat more than a handful, nuts are a high-fat (the good kind) and high-calorie food.
8). Try to eat 3 smaller meals and 3 snacks a day. I try to eat every 2 - 3 hours. This keeps your metabolism fired up and burning fat! It also keeps you energized and prevents hunger and overeating.
9). Chew your food thouroughly! This is actually hard for me when I'm very hungry (like after a long run). The first part of digestion occurs in your mouth with your saliva. Try to get food in an almost liquid state before swallowing. This makes it easier on your body to absorb nutrients as well as digest!
10). Read nutrition labels. Read the ingredients. If it doesn't look natural to you, don't eat it!
I found clean eating easier to do by cleaning out my kitchen first. Getting rid of all the "junk" food and just starting clean. Ok, you can find Oreos in my cabinet and a pint of Ben & Jerry's in my freezer from time to time, but the rest of the food is natural and clean! Read the ingredients on the labels, if it's those that you recognize and can buy individually (like tomatoes and basil), those foods are OK to keep.
Try to picture a caveman. They reached for fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins from nuts and seeds or the catch of the night. They didn't have prepackaged foods with unknown ingredients. You can apply this concept to eating clean, with a few adjustments of course.
As you get used to eating clean, keep in mind the ultimate goals to help you keep going.
- Weight loss!
- Increased energy levels (natural energy, not the sugar rush kind)
- Detoxing your body
- Prevention of cancer and diseases
- Sharpening your mind and senses
- Clear and glowing skin and eyes
- Stronger immune system
- Improved sleep
- Increased libido ;)
- Fewer cravings
Make a commitment to yourself and you will see positive results. Your body doesn't lie.