If you, like me, are a skeptic about diets- I encourage you to keep reading on to the end of this paragraph. If I’ve really caught your interest, keep reading on to the end of this post and who knows; maybe we’ll have made a deeper connection by the time all is said and done. I’ve made mention in the past, albeit briefly, about the various types of diets that are out there. I have yet to really try any of them but wanted to look into them so I could explore my options. I’m not really one for fad diets but I’m aware of what I eat. I remember when a former co-worker was talking to me about clean eating and how much it had changed her life. I dismissed it at the time, but now it’s something that I’d really like to start incorporating more into my life. My problem? Where to start. If you’re also facing this problem, I present to you a beginner’s guide to clean eating (from a fellow beginner) – and guess what? I’m even including a snazzy cheat sheet that you can download to keep handy.
Are you still with me? Great! Sometimes I think the word “diet” scares people off. When really it shouldn’t because a diet is just what we eat. That’s it. Nothing fancy, nothing over the top- our diet is what we consume.
Seems simple enough, right?
But most of the time, a diet has become associated with what we consume to lose weight or how we maintain a healthier blood sugar level. For some, a diet has come to be associated with cutting out foods and avoiding certain things like carbohydrates or red meat.
Personally, I don’t want to give up anything… though I have given up, or at least lessened, the amount of processed sugar that I consume; and I try to avoid processed foods in general because I don’t want to deal with the migraine that comes with it. I’ve also toyed with the idea of starting a gluten-free diet for Sweet B, but we haven’t made too much progress with it. Main reason? One of her favorite foods is pasta and she’s not so keen on the alternatives.
Still, eating healthier is one of those necessary steps on my personal journey for a healthier lifestyle.
But how do I do this? Well, for starters I examined my diet and started keeping a food journal. I also looked into various types of diets and found myself returning to a few. One of them was clean eating (and the others I will discuss at a later time)- and it brought me back to that discussion I had with my former co-worker.
So what’s the great appeal about clean eating? Why did it catch my eye so much?
Well, to be perfectly honest with you; after looking over it more and reading more about it I realized that I was already practicing most of the basic principles of clean eating.
My Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating
Eating clean is a great way to take personal responsibility over your health. And maybe you’ve considered it before but held back.
Here a few reasons why:
You might be fearful that there are intricate and hard to understand rules and ideas you must follow to benefit from clean eating. You may freeze when you are standing in your grocer’s produce section, trying to decide between two similar but slightly different fruits or vegetables.
You may think that the complicated clean eating process is going to be too expensive for you and your family.
Your mind might be concerned with fitting a clean eating approach into your busy lifestyle. You may wonder if eating clean actually tastes good. For instance, how are you going to replace the sugar-filled junk food that you love with a healthy alternative without going into withdrawals.
These are all common thoughts people have when they consider eating clean. However, they are needless complications that do nothing but keep you from experiencing the best mental and physical health you have ever enjoyed.
Don’t make the very simple process of clean eating complicated.
In many cases this is a subconscious effort to justify sticking to your unhealthy refined and processed diet of fast foods and nutritionally poor food items. How easy is it to eat clean? The basic clean eating principles discussed below show you how truly simple it is.
The Simple Basics of Clean Eating
Eat more whole foods – Whole foods are very close to their original state. Sure, apples and oranges went through some type of process to get from a farm or orchard and to your grocer. However, they have enjoyed minimal human intrusion compared to processed foods. Whole fruits and vegetables, grass-fed, free-range meat products, unsalted seeds and nuts, and whole grains are what you want to focus on eating here.
Eat fewer processed foods – This is easier to do than you may think. If the food you are about to eat comes in a wrapper or package, it has been processed. Check the ingredients label. Some foods that are wrapped up or packaged have minimal processing. Most do not. Avoid anything in a wrapper and you will drastically and simply limit your intake of processed and refined foods.
Eat more frequently – The Standard American Diet (appropriately shortened to SAD) is also enjoyed in most modern countries and cultures. It includes eating 3 meals a day. It involves huge portions. This is a guaranteed way to minimize your overall wellness and maximize poor health. Spread your daily eating over 5 or 6 sessions. Eat smaller quantities, and eat every 2 or 3 hours, either a meal or snack. This keeps your metabolism super-charged, and your internal processes working properly.
Prepare your own meals – The best way to eat clean is to know exactly what goes into the food you eat. Eating away from home means you are playing Russian roulette with your diet. Cook your own meals and there is no mystery as far as what you are eating.
Eat balanced meals and snacks – Makes you are getting carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats with any meal or snack. This combination makes you feel full longer. It also reduces your urges for unhealthy junk and processed foods.
Stop killing yourself by eating refined sugar – Did you know that sugar creates a reaction in your brain similar to that of a drug addiction? Refined, processed sugar is regarded by most health officials and doctors as the major cause for obesity today. This leads to circulatory, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, an increased risk of contracting diabetes, and a host of mental and physical health issues. The empty calories in sugar do absolutely nothing positive for your body. Natural sweeteners are found in fruits and vegetables, and can easily replace potentially deadly refined sugar.
You might be asking yourself: is it really that simple? And yes, it really is that simple. In theory and on paper… or screen, as it were.
But if it still seems intimidating to you, start small. Take on one piece at a time and don’t go all in. Find a support system or an accountability buddy to keep yourself on track.
And, don’t forget to print out my handy, dandy, Clean Eating cheat sheet!
Have you considered clean eating? Or, maybe after reading this beginner’s guide to clean eating; you’re already there? What do you think?