Introducing Your New Lifestyle: Clean Eating

I hear from many people who want to try clean eating but aren’t quite sure how. They’re stuck on simple carbs for breakfast, lunch on the go, and processed, sodium-laden snacks. Dinner is a rushed box of something with a can of something else on the side. But no matter how you slice it, the way to increased energy and metabolism, optimal weight, reduced digestive distress, and a lean, strong body are clean eating and consistent exercise.

Clean eating is a lifestyle, not a diet – it’s road map in a rushed world where eating prepackaged, processed foods is the norm, along with a decreasingly healthy population. Clean eating is about relying on foods in their most natural state possible – lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and super foods. It’s about cooking more and eating out less. It’s about preparing ahead (just a little) and being prepared. And it’s about saying goodbye (sometimes gradually) to commercially prepared foods laden with refined sugar, salt, fat, and additives that can lead to digestive distress, weight gain, and lethargy.

With a clean-eating lifestyle, you avoid low blood sugar crashes by eating consistently and focusing on lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats. This prevents frantic overstuffing of whatever unhealthy food you can get your hands on (believe me, I used to do this – chips, anyone?). You’ll have energy into the evening as your body gets the fuel it needs to thrive.

Prepackaged vs. Healthy Foods

When you eat foods closest to their natural state, you avoid the unnecessary and harmful ingredients in many boxed, frozen, and fast-food meals. Added salt, dyes, fat, and sugar (not to mention the ingredients we can’t pronounce) can make prepackaged and some processed foods a mine field for your health and weight.

When I discovered clean eating, my debilitating irritable bowel syndrome abated, along with chronic bloating and lethargy. I gradually cut out all of the following foods:

  • Frozen dinners, burritos, and pizzas
  • Processed meats and “non-meat alternatives”
  • Dry and canned soups
  • Refined grains (such as chips and white flour)
  • Fast food, with only minimal restaurant food
  • Fatty sauces
  • Refined sugar

I do still eat some processed foods: low-fat milk, nonfat Greek yogurt, and whole-grain cereal and breads. As you can see, using the term “prepackaged” might be more accurate than “processed.” Processed doesn’t mean “bad,” but “prepackaged” almost always guarantees unwanted ingredients and additives.

Once you get the basic concepts down, eating clean is natural and easy. Take a list of healthy foods to the grocery store until knowing what to eat and avoid becomes second nature. Instead of feeling like it’s a sacrifice, you won’t be able to imagine going back.

And if you follow the 80/20 principle – eating clean 80 percent of the time while leaving the other 20 percent for special occasions, eating out, and holidays – clean eating truly does become a lifestyle.

Soon you’ll be so in touch with your body that you’ll only want healthy, wholesome, and natural foods – food that is as unprocessed as possible yet still delicious. You’ll become more aware of your body and the negative, draining effects unhealthy food has on your body and life.

Sample Day of Clean Eating

See what a typical day looks like for me here. Here’s another sample day, keeping in mind that I eat a LOT and have a high metabolism:

Meal 1 (breakfast): One-half cup rolled oats with ground flaxseed, blueberries, and chopped walnuts plus one hard-boiled egg

Meal 2 (snack): One-quarter cup unsalted, dry-roasted almonds and an apple, black grapes, or baby carrots

Meal 3 (lunch): Quinoa with chopped mangoes, red onion, and black beans, drizzled with olive oil

Meal 4 (snack): Small green smoothie or protein shake with a banana (usually post-workout)

Meal 5 (dinner): Lean turkey burger with lettuce and tomato and baked sweet potato

Meal 6 (optional snack): A bite or two of low-fat cheese

By eating clean and following a consistent strength-training and cardio program, I’ve been able to maintain my weight, enjoy consistently high energy, and stay healthier overall. If you’re having trouble losing those last 10 pounds or you’re ready to take your health and body to the next level, I encourage you to contact me about virtual coaching. See you in nirvana~

This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.

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Comments

  1. Great post. People think that clean eating is only fruit and vegetables. WRONG! I have oatmeal about every morning and nosh on fruit and veggies all day. I know so many people that won’t eat fruit because of he sugar and points but they’ll eat something that contains preservatives and other unnatural things just because its less points. Aarrgh! People need to start reading ingredients. Have you ever read Skinny Bitch? Love that book!!

    • Great that you get it and are living clean eating. And absolutely, I agree that people get too caught up in “points” and calorie counting instead of actual nutritional value. When it all clicked for me – eating natural foods vs processed foods, it was literally life changing. No more stomach aches. I’ll check out book – sounds intriguing!

  2. It’s interesting…when I was trying to lose my 100 pounds I ate a LOT of processed foods. I ate Lean Cuisines and a salad for dinner, plus measured out processed snacks during the day. Since I was losing weight by counting calories this worked well for me.

    Now I can’t eat processed foods. I just don’t want them. I don’t crave them and if I want a snack, I’ll eat an apple or banana. I switched from sugary yogurts to plain Greek yogurt.
    Lisa recently posted..So Much to Be Thankful ForMy Profile

    • Lisa, if you lost 100 pounds by eating processed foods and counting calories, then the benefits of your weight loss far exceed any negatives of that diet. The fact that you lost your taste for those things and now eat clean will be incredibly important in your continued (and mega-successful) journey.

  3. Okay. FINE! I will do more than skim the book. 🙂

    It probably would be a good idea for me to eat healthier. I’ve improved..but there is room for tons more.
    ragemichelle recently posted..12 Greatest Heavy Weight Movie Characters Of All TimeMy Profile

  4. Hey Suzanne, Great post. I’ve been eating clean for quite some time now. I love it. People often find it strange that I don’t have a desire to eat sweets and desserts. I just don’t crave or like sugary foods. I’ve also eliminated eating salt chips, crackers etc. That was my weakness for awhile.

    So, I eat very well, but I’m trying to maintain consistency with going to the gym. I’m still working on that part. I’m not over weight at all, but really need to strengthen and tone my body.

    Any feedback from you would be helpful.

    Thanks!

  5. Great post Suzanne – yep – minimal boxes and packaging – more “totes” from the farmers market. For a “non-cook” it’s been tricky, but herbs, pesto, onions, balsamic are my new favs and make everything yummy 😉
    Kris @Krazy_Kris recently posted..How to Get Out of Your Exercise Comfort Zone- Try a Workout SwapMy Profile

  6. Great post Suzanne! And so true on all counts. I’m down about 40 lbs from clean eating and I can say it’s definitely NOT a fad! I just don’t understand the people who say it is. But to each his own I suppose.

    I have to admit that I do count calories on occasion. Just to be sure I haven’t gotten too off track. But it’s rare.

    The thing I’m finding now, is that I naturally maintain my weight with clean eating. So it takes a bit more effort to lose the weight. But I’m happy about this because I know that when I do get to my goal weight, maintaining it will be pretty effortless for me. Plus, it’s great for the holiday season where my only goal is maintenance. I’d go nuts if I had to lose weight during the holidays. LOL! And on the plus side, I know exactly what to do in January as well, when I resume the weight loss.

    I find that with clean eating, you really get in tune with what your body needs. It’s incredibly eye-opening and educational. I love it. I’ll never eat any other way ever again.

    Thanks for sharing my link!

    Happy Holidays,
    Tiffany
    Tiffany @ The Gracious Pantry recently posted..Clean Eating Carrot SoupMy Profile

    • Jen: It IS weird not to crave sugary,salty foods, isn’t it? You made me realize that yes, it’s the cravings that are gone, not just a conscious decision about it. That is truly a glorious result of eating clean. I’ll drop you an email about strengthening :).
      Kris: As always, I learn so much from my fellow fitness/foodie friends. GREAT suggestion with relying on farmer’s markets more and using those things for adding flavor (instead of salt and sugar!).
      Tiffany: You really do live this lifestyle to the fullest and are so cool for sharing it with everyone. I do think calorie counting is valuable to those looking to lose a lot of weight. Thanks so much for adding your insight! Love your web site!

  7. Great post! So many people think that exercise alone is all you need to be healthy and really without proper nutrition you’ll never be truly healthy. Keep up the great work!

    Sarah

    • Thanks Sarah. Absolutely…. We all should look closely and honestly at the things we put in our mouths every day, because those things could be dictating our future health. What a fabulous web site you have – and to think I didn’t know about it til now! I will definitely be checking you out :).

  8. what a great menu. Clean eating is so crucial if you workout. Nutrients is key! Thanks for this. 🙂
    lindsay recently posted..Hodge PodgeMy Profile

  9. “When you eat clean, you don’t need to track portions, count calories or carbs, or keep track of “points.” Love it.

    By the way, I’m calling the cops. You STOLE my sample clean eating day! Well, except meal #6 — mine is usually low-fat Swiss cheese and an apple 🙂

    I think the refrigerator door is a good test of clean eating. If it rattles when you open it, might be time re-evaluate…
    Emergefit recently posted..Coloring Outside The Exercise Lines…My Profile

    • Seriously? I was going to say we could exchange menus, but apparently that would be very boring! I could steal your apple/Swiss idea however… Oh yeah, the cops.

  10. Where can i find your “shopping clean food list”? can’t seem to find it. you’re site is AWESOME for getting my morbid body into a healthier body. Thanks! LisaMN

    • Sorry, Lisa, after having that up for a long time I replaced it with my simple truths and bodyweight workout. I still have it though and will email it to you :). Thanks for reading!

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