Eating clean is among the more prominent buzz phrases being used in nutrition circles. Although you won’t find a textbook definition of what this means, there are countless ways to put this idea into action. It can be as simple as swapping out ingredients and making small changes or more complex with meal plans and lifestyle choices. For example, If you like to make fruit smoothies, try bumping up your veggies by adding a handful of spinach. Try and progress to multiple handfuls and get to the point where greens are the base of your mixtures. Eating more greens will also help cut down on saturated fat. This is another area where substitutions can reap benefits for body, heart and mind. When preparing salads with a mixture of brightly-colored vegetables, use nutritional yeast instead of cheese. You don’t have to ditch the desserts; many treats can be prepared with avocados, black beans or sweet potatoes.
Aside from simple tips such as those, here are three major takeaways you can keep in mind to help you eat clean around the clock. They are a great place to start, especially if you’re new to the idea and feeling a bit intimidated or overwhelmed.
1. Limit the Processed Stuff
One of the easiest ways to eat clean(er) in simplest terms is to eat real foods. By limiting the number of processed foods, you are taking a big step in the right direction. A general rule of thumb is to avoid packaged foods and food products that have lengthy ingredient lists, most of which are hard to pronounce. The fewer ingredients the better. If something wasn’t food 100 years ago, it probably isn’t food today. If something has a commercial with cartoon characters, it is not food.
2. Skip Added Sugars
Minimizing sugar intake is usually a challenge with most forms of food and drink. Try skipping the added sugar in coffee and tea as small changes add up when making positive changes. Or better yet, eliminate the carbonated beverages like soda loaded with empty calories and no nutritional value. Take the empowering step of familiarizing yourself with the various code names for sugar that populate processed foods. Try making your own power bars as the store-bought versions tend to be high in sugar. In addition, be weary of products like pasta sauces and cereals as they generally have plenty of added sugar products. Added sugars can include many things, but generally speaking, if it’s artificial, a syrup, or not a whole food, it’s an added sugar. One exception that is a natural sweetener is stevia which is sugar-free naturally, has no effect on blood sugar levels, is derived from a whole herb, but be sure you do choose one that’s not genetically modified, and in alcohol-free, liquid form to obtain the best option. Don’t buy one with added fillers or other sweeteners mixed in.
Upping fruit intake is another way to give your palette some sweetness in a low-calorie fashion. Adding fruit to salads and stir-fry is beneficial for the immune system while helping keep blood pressure in check. You’ll want to check the ingredients when buying canned, frozen, or dried fruit to avoid the excess sugar when possible.
3. Add Clean Sources of Protein
Adding clean protein is essential as the human body cannot produce all of the necessary enzymes we need. Vegan protein sources are among the healthiest there are and pack a substantial punch of nutrients and vitamins to accommodate anyone. In addition to dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, significant protein is found in superfoods like chia seeds and hemp hearts.
With any change, it helps to think terms of progress not perfection. Start the journey towards clean eating with simple changes that are easy to implement. Drinking more water, cutting down on processed foods, and eating more fresh fruits and veggies are a few steps towards eating clean for a healthy body, soul, and mind.
Lead Image Source: Smoky Black Bean and Hemp Seed Burgers