Imagine you’re attempting to better your body for whatever reason (you want to lose weight or simply get healthy). You go to the store, and what do you buy? Are you looking at fresh produce, or are you running to the low-cal cereals and lean cuisines? It turns out that the latter choices aren’t as good for you as you think.
At some point in everyone’s life, clean eating seems necessary for the betterment of the body. The concept sounds great, but the definition of “clean eating” often varies from person to person.
In all fairness, the media around doesn’t help us out much. We see commercials for non-fat or low calorie pre-packaged meals. It sounds perfect—we don’t have to measure anything out, and we don’t even have to use a pot and pan.
If you’re really interested in clean eating, the first task is to gather some great resources. Livestrong.com is a credible and consistently updated source for all the information you could ever need on eating well. Its website boasts multiple articles, from avoiding fake weight-loss foods (protein bars may set your protein level high but the sugar intake is insane!) to how to shop for produce. Thegraciouspantry.com is also a great blog to visit for simple, healthy and delicious recipes and a guideline on how to stock the kitchen.
Clean eating is essentially these qualifications:
No white flour/bread.
No processed foods.
No chain restaurants.
No fried anything.
No pre-packaged foods (this includes “healthy” products like Special K cereal…yup. We said it.)
No refined sugar.
Little to no salt. Use your spices! (and creativity)
Little to no butter. Use olive oil.
Fresh vegetables and fruit.
Fresh meat (white meat is preferred).
Eat quinoa, chickpeas, whole grain pasta and brown instead of white pasta and rice.
WATER WATER WATER WATER WATER.
How to make your life easier:
Cook your meals at home: you have better control of what goes into your food. Plain and simple.
Smart dining: When dining at restaurants, don’t necessarily just look for the under-500-calorie dinners, but rather the ones with the simplest ingredients (seared salmon with asparagus and sautéed potatoes. Simple!)
Stay away from the fad weight loss products (and if you don’t, at the very least check their labels): Lean cuisines may be low in calories but check out the label on the back. Notice the 20-30% of your daily sodium intake all in one little lean cuisine. Extra sodium doesn’t do you, or your soon-to-be water-retaining bloated stomach any favors!
Plan out your meals: If you make a grocery list specifically tailored to tonight’s meal, you’re less inclined to stray from your grocery mission.
Freshness is key: You want to eat things that are as fresh as possible, and guess what…cereals and frozen meals won’t get you anywhere except into the hospital with high blood sugar and sodium overdose.
It’s time to eat smart, and with the right tools, eating clean will become second nature. Putting in the extra effort to give your body what it’s meant to eat will certainly pay off in the end, and if you stick with it, your efforts won’t just result in a hot body—it will result in a healthy, strong, whole body! So get with it and get clean.
Photo by Lauren Matakas