“What the heck is all this talk about eating clean?” Eating clean is 1) learning to make healthier choices, 2) a lifestyle, and 3) not a diet. It is merely eating the way nature intended. If your food is as close to its natural state as you can get it then your food is “clean”. You do not have to count calories, but instead rely on whole foods to acquire great and long lasting results. Understand that this is not a short term experiment that provides a quick fix to the problems you’ve had for years. It is a complete lifestyle change. Once you get the basic steps down, you will be well on your way to that fit and trim body you have been literally starving to get.
Step 1: Fruits and Veggies
Get your fruit and vegetable fix! That is right. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid canned or processed products; remember you want to eat food that is as close to its natural state as you can get it. Processing fruits and vegetables reduces their nutritional value and fiber content. It also adds salt, fat, sugar, and other chemicals that can be avoided by choosing fresher options. If you must pick a processed fruit or vegetable, frozen is always better. Just be sure the fruit has no added sugar.
Step 2: Proteins and Carbs
A source of protein (fish, meat, dairy, eggs) is sustenance whose calories come primarily from protein. Aim to pair a lean protein with a complex carbohydrate. Examples of complex carbohydrates include wheat, grains, legumes, beans, and potatoes. By pairing your meals this way you are less likely to cause a spike in insulin levels. Try to choose organic or grass fed meats when possible as these foods are usually clean of pesticides, hormones, and additives. You should also grill, broil, or steam your meats rather than frying.
Step 3: Put the Soda and Juice Down
One of the tenants of clean eating is to remove added sugars from your diet. Therefore, you must eliminate sodas and high calorie, sugary drinks. Choose water or tea for your beverages (I prefer green tea). Juicing your own fruits and vegetables is another good alternative.
Step 4: Fat for Fat
It’s time to trade bad fats for good fats. Removing saturated fats from your diet is one of the most important aspects of eating clean. You will likely find saturated fat lurking in the foods that you love like French fries, cakes, cookies, chocolate, ice cream, thick steaks, cheese, and other processed foods. Avoiding fast food, choosing lean cuts of meat, and getting your fat calories from foods like nuts, fatty fish, and oils will lower you saturated fat intake.
Step 5: Eat Your Heart Out
Eat 4-6 small meals a day. This will keep your blood sugar stable and help you to avoid overeating. Choose “clean” snacks like nuts, low-fat or fat free dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
Master these basic steps, and build upon them, to attain the clean and fit lifestyle you deserve!