The primary goal of clean eating is to get you to ditch the processed food that you have been used to eating and to get you eating wholesome food in the most natural form.
Not only does clean eating allow you to lose weight, but it also helps your overall health.
Clean eating doesn’t guarantee you a life free of disease, but it reduces the chances of disease and allows you to live a longer, healthier life.
Here is a list of healthy practices you can begin today to make your transition to a healthy lifestyle smoother.
A lot of people in the world aren’t eating their fair share of vegetables and are instead relying on processed food to keep their hunger intact.
Eating more vegetables can reduce your risk of diseases and conditions, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
By eating vegetables, you will be releasing fiber into your body, which is packed full of good bacteria that fights off bad pathogens and infections.
Tip: Buy organic vegetables as they will reduce the number of pesticides you’re consuming
Below is a list eight popular vegetables you absolutely must stock your fridge with today.
1. Carrots – Carrots are a great source of fiber and nutrients. Due to the number of antioxidants they have, carrots are known to reduce the risk of different types of cancer. Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. You can use them in coleslaw, salads, and healthy muffins. Use them as a snack with dip or put them in different stews. Make sure that you don’t eat too many though, as carrots contain Vitamin A, which if a lot is consumed, can be toxic to your digestive system, especially for the young and old. Also, it doesn’t take that many carrots to turn your skin orange!
2. Kale – Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is quite popular due to the number of nutrients it contains, such as Vitamin A, K, C, B6, magnesium, calcium and so much more. By eating kale, you are lowering your risk of high cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease over time. You can eat kale in a salad, soup, with pasta or just snack. It great in smoothies, or even sauted with an egg. You can’t go wrong with kale; it can also help you to lose weight.
3. Spinach – Spinach is leafy green which comes with a range of health benefits, and it contains lutein which helps protect our eyes. Spinach contains MGDG and SQDG, which help to reduce the risk of cancer and even suppresses tumors and keep them from getting larger. You can enjoy spinach in green smoothies, salads, fried, or – a favorite of many is in an Indian curry called the Dahl.
4. Sweet Potatoes – These sweet vegetables are grown worldwide and come in a variety of sizes, and have a lot of minerals, fiber, and nutrients. Sweet potatoes help align your gut, provide vitamin A to improve your immune system, and have been said to improve your cognitive development. You can eat them the same as “regular” potatoes such as chips, mashed, baked, or even raw. Adding a little olive oil can help you absorb the Vitamin A in the sweet potato.
5. Bell Peppers – Bell peppers come in red, yellow and orange. They contain a high amount of Vitamin C and helps with repairing the body. Caution: If you have a pollen allergy, you may react negatively towards bell peppers as they contain the same allergens. You can stuff bell peppers with quinoa, add them to chili or enjoy raw in a salad or a wrap for that extra crunch.
6. Watercress – Watercress contains plenty of antioxidants which helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease. It’s a good source of vitamin C which helps to reduce the chance of your body becoming infected with pathogens. You can eat watercress in an omelet, wrap, salad, chicken stir-fry or simply on its own. It has a peppery hot taste to it, and is perfect as an addition to soups.
7. Tomatoes – The tomato is technically a fruit, but many categorize it as a vegetable. The tomato has many oxidants and contains potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C. Tomatoes’ are linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as protecting you against sunburn. They are harvested early which dulls their taste, but will be ripe when they reach the stores. You can enjoy tomatoes with almost any meal you can think imagine.
8. Celery – Often added to a variety of stir-fries, everything about these green vegetables can be eaten. They contain mostly vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, protein and fiber. Eating celery has been linked to lowering cholesterol levels, lowering high blood pressure and lowers toxins due to its high amount of antioxidants. If you enjoy green smoothies, add a little celery to the mix, fry some up with your favorite stir-fry or enjoy on its own.
There are a lot more vegetables that provide a wide range of health benefits – eat a wide variety of them, do your research, and go organic as possible.
People are always searching for real whole foods that are free from pesticides. Fruit needs to be on top of your list.
Fruits contain lots of vitamins, fiber, and minerals. They help reduce cholesterol levels, and the fiber in the fruit can help you lose weight.
You’ll find that berries are considered healthier than most fruits, due to them having higher amounts of oxidants and fiber, and less sugar. Let’s go over a few fruits that you can eat today that will help you achieve your clean eating goals.
1. Avocado – Like the tomato, people think that the avocado is a vegetable when in fact it’s a fruit! It comes loaded with healthy fats and contains a large number of nutrients. If you are struggling to get enough potassium in your diet, avocados contain enough to get your daily dose. They have a fatty texture which can be used with other ingredients quite well. Try sliced avocados on toast with a touch of lemon juice. Or my favorite, a sliced avocado with Balsamic Vinegar.
Did you know that avocados contain more potassium than bananas?
2. Pineapple – Pineapples provide a large number of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and magnesium. Because they are full of antioxidants, they are linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. They also help with digestion. Pineapple assists your body in recovery after exercise and is delicious to eat in many different ways.
3. Papaya – This fruit is favored by many as it is quite refreshing. It is high in vitamins A and C, and also contains papain, which has the following health benefits:
- It may help ease sore throat.
- It may reduce pain and inflammation.
- It aids digestion.
- It helps heal wounds.
- It eases muscle soreness.
- It may help relieve shingles symptoms.
Papaya contains carotenoids which are used to reduce inflammation which may help curb diseases like diabetes and heart disease. You can eat papaya on its own or with other fruits. It goes nicely in fruit salads.
4. Mango – The mango is high in vitamin C and antioxidants and is also low in calories, which is great for us that are looking to lose weight. Due to all the vitamin C it contains, eating mangos can make your skin less likely to sag or become wrinkled, and will help your hair begin to shine. You can enjoy mango on its own or with other foods, but eat in moderation as it does contain plenty of sugar.
5. Kiwi – If you like fruit that has plenty of flavor and health benefits, the kiwi may be your answer. It contains many nutrients such as vitamin C, K, and E. Kiwis are known to boost the immune system, as well as reduce health issues such as diabetes and lower the risk of heart disease. Many people have their kiwis during breakfast, by itself or with no-fat Greek yogurt.
Whole grains are crucial when you are on a clean diet, but few people eat the required amount of servings per day.
Whole grains are full of soluble fiber, which makes you feel less hungry as well as helping to control your blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels.
Not all whole grains are the same, as some will have different nutrients than others. Below are a few whole grains that are unique in their way.
1. Bulgur – Bulgur has a texture that is quite similar to quinoa; this cereal grain is made from cracked wheat that’s parboiled. It’s rich in fiber, helps you lose weight, improves blood sugar levels and helps keep your heart healthy. You can eat bulgur in soups or salads, and it can be eaten in place of rice for most dishes.
2. Rice – If you’re looking for fuel for the body and food that is high in carbohydrates, rice is your answer. Rice is high in iron and calcium, and as it contains a low amount of fat it is perfect if you need to lower your cholesterol levels. Rice can be used in about any type of dish and is a favorite with curries.
3. Corn – Corn is made up of primarily carbs, with low traces of protein. Corn has many vitamins and minerals, and they differ if you have popcorn or sweet corn. Popcorn contains more minerals, and sweet corn contains more vitamins. By eating corn, you’ll improve your eye health as well as reduce the risks of any digestive issues.
4. Oats – Oats are high in protein and fat, but also contain high amounts of carbohydrates and fiber. The antioxidants in oats are quite powerful as they provide a range of health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure. If you have a family and young children, it’ll benefit them to eat oatmeal. Some research even suggests that oats may help prevent asthma in children, when fed to young infants.
Consume Less Meat
Cutting back on eating meat is not only healthier, but it’s also good for the earth. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go full vegan to see the healthy benefits of eating less meat.
When you do eat less meat, you are lowering your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease and you will enjoy losing weight.
Side Note: Eating more veggies increases the number of vitamins and minerals.
Don’t worry about the lack of protein, as by eating more plant-based food you can still get your recommended daily allowance. When you do eat meat, try to stick to grass-fed meat as it will contain fewer chemicals. Remove all processed meat, such as sausage, from your diet. A good idea to to treat meat as a condiment, rather than as the main part of your meal.
Set yourself a goal by not eating meat on a particular day of the week. Instead of eating bacon for breakfast, you can have a nice bowl of oatmeal with some fresh strawberries.
Avoid cutting out meat completely, as you will put your body in a state of shock. Instead, lower the amount of meat you eat each day by supplementing it with plant-based food. Over time your body will become used to plant-based foods, and you will start to feel great.
Avoid Processed Foods
Not all processed food is bad. Think about when you’re cutting up vegetables and dipping them in ranch dressing, or mixing dressing into your salads. That dressing is a processed food.
However, there may be items that you buy in the store, thinking that they are not processed. They need to be avoided altogether.
Here are a few ways you can avoid processed food:
1. Read the Ingredients – Plenty of people will focus on things like calories and fat, but you need to focus on the ingredients. If a label lists any chemical names, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
2. Visit Your Local Baker – The next time you buy bread at your local store, have a look at the ingredients on whole-bread, and you will probably find that it contains more ingredients than you care to digest. And often, “whole-wheat breads are simply white breads with some dye. Make sure your bread actually has whole grains in it. You are likely to have fewer ingredients in your bread when visiting the local baker. Always go whole-grain as much as possible, with as few ingredients as possible.
3. Avoid the Kid’s Menu – When you are out for a family meal, avoid the kid’s menu, as it contains a lot of processed food like chicken nuggets, pizza, burgers, and sausages. You can order just for yourself and then have your child eat from your plate.
4. Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market – Finding pesticide-free foods at the local store can be a tough chore – if not near impossible. The best thing you can do is to visit your local farmer’s market, where you’ll find seasonal vegetables and fruits that are pesticide free.
5. Spoil Yourself – Everyone loves junk food, and you have permission to eat some once in a while – as long as you cook it yourself. If you have to cook it, you may just avoid eating it altogether.
Consume Less Sugar
Eating a lot of sugar is linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and it will cause you to put on a lot of weight. Sugar is found in just about every type of food you can think of, including fruits and vegetables.
Here are a few ways in which you can avoid consuming more sugar than you need to.
1. Avoid Soda – A can of soda contains roughly 12 teaspoons of sugar. You can substitute it with water, sparkling soda, or unsweetened tea, or black coffee. Avoiding soda can also help you lose weight.
2. Avoid Heavy Sugary Desserts – It is nice to enjoy a treat after your meal or as a snack, but there are alternatives to the chocolate bar or cupcake that can make your life healthier. Fresh fruit mixed with Greek yogurt or baked pears and apples can be delicious and perfect for you.
3. Avoid Sugar-rich Sauces – Everyone loves BBQ sauce or ketchup, but one serving contains around 4 grams of sugar. Using fresh herbs in your cooking can reduce sugar levels. Even mayonnaise is a better choice.
4. Eat Foods That Are Full-fat – Foods that are low-fat contain more sugar than full-fat foods. Read the labels of low-fat items, and you’ll notice that they contain more ingredients as well as hidden sugars like maltose. Manufacturers add sugars to improve the taste, since there is less fat.
Limit Sodium Intake
Using less sodium is best as it lowers the risk of high blood pressure, and it will keep your kidneys intact. To help you reduce the intake of salt, here are a few tips.
1. Use Fresh Meat – as it already contains traces of sodium. By eating processed meat, you’re being exposed to more sodium.
2. Purchase Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Frozen or canned contains high traces of sodium. Some frozen fruits are ok, but make sure to read the label to make sure it’s fresh with no added sugars or chemicals.
3. Look at Different Brands of the Same Food – Go with the ones that have a lower sodium content. Cottage cheese is a good example, as it can be full of sodium.
4. Use Low-Sodium Salts – If you’re on a specific diet due to medical conditions, there are low-sodium salts that you can use, which will help lower your blood pressure.
5. Use Spices and Herbs – Spices and herbs can replace salt and add flavor to your food, plus many of them add nutrients to your diet.
Your blood pressure may rise as you get older, so it is important now to monitor how much sodium you are consuming each day.
When you are eating clean, alcohol can keep you from reaching your goals and keep you from losing weight, if that is your goal. Drinking too much can cause you to feel hungry, and you may end up ordering an extra burger, or something that isn’t good for you. Instead of alcohol, you can drink 100% pure water.
Stress, if bad enough, can have an impact on your physical and mental health. Certain foods can help you feel calm, due to the nutrients they contain.
1. Eggs – Contain a nutrient called choline which changes the way the brain regulates your mood and reduces stress.
2. Kidney Beans – They have an amino acid which helps in the production of serotonin which helps with calming.
3. Sweet Potatoes – Lowers your blood sugar levels and balance your mood, due to being rich in fiber and carbs.
4. Brown Rice – Your mood is stimulated due to a variety of B vitamins, creating serotonin and dopamine.
Clean eating is all about choosing whole fresh food – food that hasn’t been processed using chemicals, pesticides, or food coloring. You will begin to notice a difference in yourself, both physically and mentally, once you have given clean eating a go.
It is all about taking action, so get started with these healthy practices today.