You’ve probably heard of the term “eating clean”, but you may not know what it is exactly or how you can clean up your diet. In a nutshell, it’s about eating more of the healthiest options in each of the food groups and avoiding the not so healthy ones.
Pick Whole Foods
The concept of clean eating is to avoid packaged and processed food and to go to food as close to its natural form as possible. This allows you to skip the calories, saturated fat, sugar, and salt you get from processed food.
Eat More Whole Grains
White bread, pasta, and rice lose most of their nutrients during the manufacturing process. Replace them with whole wheat options, and increase your consumption of whole grain food like oatmeal, bulgur, or barley. Studies have shown that a diet high in whole grains can lower your risk of colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Load Up on Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are the two main pillars of clean eating. Whether fresh or frozen, they are loaded with fiber and nutrients; just make sure to read the label for their sugar and salt content if you choose canned items. Consider having at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Be Smart About Meat and Dairy
Meat, dairy, and eggs you buy at the store may come from animals that are injected with antibiotics and growth hormones. Opt for buying these items organic, or from a local source that you trust. When choosing seafood, look for items low in mercury; big fish such as sharks, king mackerel, and tilefish tend to be high in mercury. The cleanest approach to protein? Get most of it from nuts, legumes, and beans
Watch Out for Salt and Added Sugar
Since clean foods are normally low in salt and sugar, try not to add to your meals more than you should. Instead, flavor your dish with herbs and spices. Even when you are buying food that seems healthy to you, like tomato sauce or yogurt, make sure to check the label for any unwanted added sweeteners or salt.
Skip Artificial Ingredients
Artificial coloring, preservatives, sweeteners, and other manmade ingredients don’t have a place in a clean-eating diet. At the grocery store, read food labels and avoid items with the fake stuff which you usually have a hard time pronouncing.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drop the soft drinks and the sugar loaded juices for low-calorie drinks like water and herbal tea. Drinking fluids not only keeps you full, but it also helps fight fatigue; and if you need a little flavor in your water, infuse it with some mint or a slice of lemon.
Reconsider Alcohol and Caffeine
Some clean eaters choose to totally cut out alcohol and caffeine from their lifestyle, while others say it’s fine to have them in moderation since they are rich in antioxidants. In all cases, your consumption of caffeinated beverages shouldn’t exceed 400mg of caffeine, without any added sugar. As for alcohol, limit your consumption to one serving per day for women, two for men.