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.