A lot of people nowadays depend on fast food and other quick, unhealthy foods to get them through busy days.
However, making a habit of buying meals and snacks on the run can lead to unhealthy choices and behaviors. Although it’s not practical for everyone to cook all meals at home, preparing fresh, healthy food for yourself should be a priority whenever possible.
When eating clean, knowing what’s in your food is important and cooking for yourself is the easiest way to control what goes in and what stays out of your body.
3. Stop Eating “Diet” Foods
When trying to lose weight, many people reach for “diet” foods like low-fat dressings, diet soda, meal replacement bars and weight-loss drinks. These foods can be loaded with artificial sweeteners, preservatives and added sugar.
For example, low-fat yogurts can contain as much as 23 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar in a half-cup serving. When following a clean eating program, choose whole, non-diet foods like unsweetened, full-fat yogurt and natural peanut butter with no added sugar.
4. Go for the Green
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and arugula are easy and nutritious ingredients that can be added to almost any meal. Adding a mixed green salad to your meal, incorporating sautéed spinach into an omelet or tossing fresh kale into your favorite smoothie are easy ways to eat more healthy produce.
Greens — especially dark, leafy greens like kale — are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help your body thrive.
Try experimenting with different types of greens to narrow down your favorites.
5. Say NO To Refined Carbs
Filling up on white rice, bread and pasta won’t do you any favors when it comes to health. This is because these foods lack the vitamins, minerals, fat, protein and fiber that your body needs to function.
Plus, a high intake of refined carbohydrates has been associated with an increased risk of developing health issues like obesity and diabetes..
Swap refined grains for whole, fiber-rich grains like oats, barley, brown rice for cleaner, more nutrient-dense carbohydrate options.
6. Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
Foods that are considered “nutrient-dense” contain an impressive amount of nutrients but are relatively low in calories. They’re perfect for those looking to shed pounds.
Nutrient-dense foods include broccoli, berries, eggs, red bell peppers, seeds, wild-caught salmon and sweet potatoes.
On the other hand, foods that are considered nutrient-poor, like candy and fast food, are packed with calories yet contain few nutrients.
Choosing meals and snacks that are loaded with nutrient-dense ingredients is a smart and delicious way to get healthier.
7. Keep It Clean When Eating Out
As long as you know what to look for, eating clean can be a breeze no matter where you are. Choose meals that focus on fresh produce, complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins. Although it’s perfectly healthy to indulge in a treat once in a while, make it a point to limit heavy dishes like creamy pastas and fried foods as much as possible.
Additionally, swap the breadbasket for a healthy salad before your meal to increase your vegetable intake while filling up on fiber.
8. Meal Prep for Success
Prepping bulk meals for the week ahead ensures that you will have fresh, healthy options every day. It also keeps you from making poor food choices out of desperation.
For example, knowing that you have a delicious meal already prepared and waiting for you in your refrigerator can deter you from stopping at a fast food restaurant for a quick bite.
Try investing in a dry erase board for your kitchen where you can jot down recipe ideas, grocery lists and plan meals for the week ahead.
9. Don’t Drink Your Calories
Drinking just a few calorie- and sugar-laden drinks per day can lead to weight gain over time and may increase your risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes.
Even healthy-sounding drinks like smoothies can be loaded with sugar, which isn’t good for weight loss or overall health.
To keep your added sugar intake to a minimum, hydrate with healthy options like water, water infused with fresh fruit and unsweetened green tea.
10. Keep Your Pantry and Fridge Stocked
When transitioning to a healthier diet, it’s essential to be prepared. This way, you always have the ability to make healthy meals and snacks.
Set aside time every week to go grocery shopping, which will ensure your kitchen is stocked with the ingredients necessary to keep you on track with your wellness goals. Keeping a supply of healthy canned, frozen and bulk ingredients on hand can make last-minute meals a breeze.
Canned beans, frozen vegetables and grains like quinoa and oats are affordable, clean ingredients that can be stored in the freezer and pantry to be enjoyed at any time.
11. Clean up Your Coffee
Although coffee is a healthy drink on its own, additives like sweetened syrups, artificial sweeteners and whipped cream can negatively impact your health and waistline.
Popular coffee drinks like frappuccinos, mochas and sweetened lattes can pack in hundreds of calories.
In order to keep your coffee healthy and avoid flooding your body with excessive amounts of sugar, keep your drink simple and opt for unsweetened items.
To conclude this…
Clean eating isn’t a diet — it’s a healthy way of eating that can be followed for life.
By increasing your intake of whole, clean foods and eating fewer unhealthy, processed items, you can positively impact your overall health and wellbeing.
Plus, eating clean can help you reach your weight loss goals in a healthy, sustainable way.
Try incorporating a few of these tips every week. Before you know it, you will be living a healthier, happier lifestyle