11 Simple Ways To Start Clean Eating Today
Clean eating is one buzzword currently making the rounds. You find it used in healthy food ads, body fitness commercials, and the like.
One thing you can be sure of is that it has nothing to do with food being clean or dirty. Clean eating refers to a conscious effort to eat foods that present the best benefits to the body. In this category, you will find minimally processed food and food as close to their natural states as possible.
There are certain benefits you get from eating cleaner. Those range from being healthier to saving some extra bucks for yourself. However, you have to find a clean eating style that works for you. This is bearing in mind that there is no one-shoe-fits-all-sizes pattern. More so, it might be impossible, and, at the same time, impractical to expect to go cold-turkey on the foods you have gotten used to. Hence, it might be necessary to develop a comprehensive plan that takes into consideration your finances, goal, etc.
If you are ready to set out on this path to healthy living, here are 11 tips you can employ.
1) Cut down on sugar intake
This is one area where a lot of people encounter challenges. The ‘sugar’ malaise affects everyone, from the old to the young, leading to a plethora of health afflictions. The average male is supposed to take no more than 6 spoonfuls of sugar each day. A lot of folks deliberately disregard this, taking as much as four times that amount each day.
To cut down on sugar intake, reduce the consumption of foods with added sugar. In this category, you will find soda, sweets, cakes, etc. If you are big on sugar, you can eat a lot of fruit, instead. The sugars found in fruits are healthy. This is because the impact of the sugars in fruits is not immediately evident. This is tied to the presence of several other nutrients like protein, vitamins, and fiber. So, please have as much fruit as you want!
2) Reduce your consumption of meat
First off, this does not suggest that you become vegan, although there is definitely something to be said for a vegan lifestyle. The idea here is to cut down on your consumption of meat. So, always go for the non-processed variants. Also, as much as possible, stick with animals that lived in the wild before getting slaughtered.
If you are worried about your protein level, you need not be. With regular consumption of beans, eggs, and dairy products, you should meet your protein benchmark for each day.
3) Have protein, carbohydrates, and fats present in every meal
These are the holy trinity when it comes to food nutrients. You should try as much as possible to make sure that they are present in every meal. For most folks, having carbs and fats present in meals, especially for breakfast and lunch, is no hassle. The real challenge is incorporating protein into daily meals.
Form the habit of ticking these three nutrients off your list whenever you prepare any meals. As long as they aren’t disproportionate to one another, you will be fine.
4) Don’t drink the calories
You may not necessarily have to count your calories, but you do still need to keep an eye on them. One way your calorie count could increase without your knowledge is through your drinks. This includes the usual suspect: soft drinks, and even the less known ones such as coffee and tea. Do confirm the calorie count for each drink you take, making sure not to take more than one soft drink within a twenty-four-hour window. When in doubt about the health benefits of every drink, just take water instead.
5) Be wary of sodium
You should have a rethink the next time you are tempted to empty spoons of salt into your cooking. Excessive sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure, kidney disease, and even diabetes. You can try to make use of natural flavors while cooking instead. Keep salt to a minimal, instead use herbs and spices, including even citrus. Also, you may want to consider using kosher salt.
6) Avoid processed foods
To be clear, not all processed food is terrible. In fact, the mere process of cooking can be likened to processing the food. However, it becomes problematic when the process drains the essential nutrients needed for physical development. Unfortunately, most of the processed foods you find at your local grocery shop fall into this category. It takes longer for our bodies to digest processed food. Hence, you will be giving your body a lot of work by gorging on processed food. Thus, while purchasing any item, take time to go through its list of ingredients. Long lists with unfamiliar ingredients should be a red flag.
7) Diet foods may be problematic
People looking to lose weight typically eat foods known as ‘diet foods’. These include weight loss drinks, diet sodas, and even low-fat dressings. Sadly, these foods may even contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and sugar. You may be better served with non-diet foods like full-fat yogurt.
This could be the single most crucial point to note about eating clean. The majority of harmful foods we consume come from restaurants and fast food outlets. Thus, preparing your own meals cuts this down to the barest minimum. Noted, it might not be practical to cook as often as you’d like. You may have a busy schedule or dislike cooking generally. However, as much as possible, make sure that you prioritize preparing healthy meals for yourself.
Clean eating also includes paying attention to what you eat when out. Do not let all of your hardworking go down the drain one night. Focus on fresh produce, healthy fats, and oils when ordering or eating out. This keeps you within the clean eating perimeter.
9) Limit alcohol consumption
If you must take alcohol, make sure that it is in moderate amounts. Certain types of alcohol like wine could be beneficial to your heart. But generally, excessive alcohol intake leads to several health challenges. You can easily avoid those by limiting your alcohol intake.
10) Fruits and vegetables
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, you can hardly have too much. In fact, it is more likely that you are not having enough. Constant intake of fruits and vegetables has significant health benefits. For one, it reduces and sometimes eliminates the occurrence of High Blood Pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. The fiber in fruits also acts as an immune booster, making you less susceptible to very illnesses. Really, you cannot go wrong with veggies and fruits.
It goes without saying that this typically does not involve food/eating. Hence, you may be wondering how exercise ties in to clean eating. Well, the truth is that it is futile trying to stay healthy without exercising. Regardless of the number of proteins and carbs, you take in, if you fail to exercise, you may still not be fit. Exercising daily is an integral part of keeping fit through and through.
As with every suggestion here, you have to do this in moderation. Simple exercises like walking and skipping rope can do wonders for your heart and lungs. If you struggle with ailments liked obesity, you may have to develop an exercise routine that will work just for you.
Now that you know the ways you can start eating cleaner, there are a few things you should pay attention to. The first is that you have to designate a reason for deciding to eat healthier. As already mentioned, choosing, and sticking to your plan of living healthier is no mean task. It will take a truckload of patience and determination. However, it is made easier if you have a ‘why’ from the onset. It need not be something grand. It could be as simple as the desire to look trim and fit, or because you want to compete in a marathon, any reason suffices. The point is, the reason should be unique to you, and not necessarily because some other party is compelling you.
Set targets. This is the next logical step after coming up with your ‘why’. You may want to adopt the SMART goal-setting pattern. Here, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. You need to have a set of definite targets that you can refer to. The plan (s) will act as signposts, a constant reminder of what you ought to achieve.
Finally, measure your progress. It hardly makes sense to have goals if you do not periodically confirm that you are making progress towards attainment. Develop the habit of periodic check-ins. Measure your progress against your goals to determine how far you’ve come and what else needs to be done. When due, pat yourself in the back. When necessary also, encourage yourself to do better. In all, never give up!
Clean eating is an investment that will yield endless benefits in the long run. With these simple changes to your lifestyle, you may be impacting the length and quality of your life. The great thing is that it is not too late to begin. You can start right now!
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