Clean eating is also mindful eating, and both are rewarding for your body and overall health. Focus on foods that are whole, fresh and ethically sourced can lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Clean eating will allow you to feel better and be able to better manage your weight. But embracing clean eating can seem challenging. You will have to give thought to your diet, plan your meals, and put the plan into action. These tips can make eating clean easier. Small steps can add up to big gains in making clean eating part of your life.
Check the labels. Instead of eliminating all processed foods from your diet, stop buying processed foods with ingredients you don’t recognize. Avoid hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, stabilizers, preservatives, excessive amounts of fat and sodium, and added refined sugar. Confused about how to distinguish a “clean” food from a highly processed one? Check the label on the packaging and choose those with fewer and simpler ingredients.
Raid your pantry. Target and toss a few heavily processed staples instead of trying to overhaul your entire pantry. Start by jettisoning highly processed corn oil and soda. Switch out breads and pastas made from refined white flour for ones made from whole grains.
Steer clear of packaged snack foods. Crackers, granola bars and chips usually contain refined grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and other unhealthy ingredients while offering little nutritional value. Make sure to have healthy snacks on hand to avoid the temptation of packaged goodies when hunger strikes between meals. Think nuts, vegetables, and fruits.
Simplify meals. Use a minimum of ingredients for your meals while keeping your focus on whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. A recent American Heart Association scientific advisory says studies show that people who eat a large variety of foods eat more processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, and salty snacks. Stock your kitchen with different foods from healthy food groups—fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, beans, and unprocessed whole grains— but limit items on the menu at each meal to discourage overeating.
Eat more whole foods. Load your diet with more fruits and vegetables by mixing at least three different vegetables with greens to add depth to your salads. Add berries, chopped apples, or orange slices to your favorite dishes. Keep veggies handy by washing and chopping, tossing with olive oil and herbs, and storing in your refrigerator for quick access.
Adjust your taste buds. The flavors of whole foods are more subtle than processed food. If you are accustomed to eating food with lots of salt, sugar, fat, and other additives, you will need to retrain your taste buds to appreciate the taste of whole foods. One nutritionist says adjusting can take as much time as 12 weeks. Try mixing brown rice with white if you don’t like brown rice and gradually decrease the portion of white rice. The same technique works with whole grain pasta as well as salty and fatty foods. If you are learning to like low-sodium soups, mix a regular can with a low-sodium version and increase the ratio of soup with less sodium as you get used to the flavor.
Eat slower. Learning to eat mindfully can help make clean eating easier. Put down your fork between each bite and focus on the flavors and textures.