I always have had a struggle with food, and as of now I still have a rusty relationship with it. I never seem to get the hang of it when it comes to having a well-balanced diet. And let’s be honest, you don’t feel like forcing yourself to eat stuff that you don’t like. If you do that, then you would end up in the same place where you started, or even worse, you wouldn’t want to try eating healthy again.
So to ease people’s burdens that are in similar situations like mine, I have thought of ways you can start eating healthier without going the extra mile or without cutting too much of the good stuff.
Let’s start with what clean eating is:
Clean eating refers to eating more foods that are closer to their natural form and are less processed. So more natural foods that have a higher nutritional value.
With that being said, I also want to clear out some misunderstandings that you might have before we get started.
- You don’t have to change your whole diet or meal plan all of a sudden
- You don’t have to splurge on your grocery shopping you can always keep everything within your budget’s limit
While this could be a no brainer, fruits and veggies are undeniably healthy. And like I said, you don’t have to change your diet to 180 degrees but more fruits and veggies are never a bad thing. For more benefits try eating some of them raw.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
- Make your salads as colourful as possible, including at least
three different vegetables in addition to greens.
- Add berries, chopped apples, or orange slices to your favourite
- Wash and chop veggies, toss them with olive oil and herbs, and place them in a container in your refrigerator for easy access.
I know it’s hard to give up on the piece of chocolate you crave after you’ve had your meal. I also know that for some people not having at least a tiny piece of meat in their meal doesn’t seem to be filling enough. And while giving up on these things is hard, limiting them is not impossible.
Clean eating and processed foods are like day and night, total opposites. Most processed items have lost some of their fibre and nutrients but gained sugar, chemicals, or other ingredients. What’s more, processed foods have been linked to inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease.
Eating clean involves avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
If you eat grains, choose the least processed kinds, such as sprouted grain bread and steel-cut oats. Stay away from ready-to-eat cereals, white bread, and other refined carbs.
Research has linked refined carb consumption to inflammation, insulin resistance, fatty liver, and obesity. In contrast, whole grains — which provide more nutrients and fibre — may reduce inflammation and promote better gut health.
Now, who doesn’t want a glass of wine after a long day at work? Or a bottle of a cold beer after you spent your day running around doing errands?
While red wine intake reduced atherosclerotic (plaque build-up in the arteries) risk by 37% (1) excessive consumption may contribute to a number of heart problems, such as excess belly fat, liver disease or digestive disorders.
When following a clean eating lifestyle minimise or eliminate your alcohol intake.
Although clean eating discourages all vegetable oils and spreads, it’s important to eat a moderate amount of healthy fats. These include fatty fish, nuts, and avocado. If you can’t avoid vegetable oils completely, choose olive oil. Some oils also contain high levels of omega-6 fat linoleic acid.
Vegetable oils and margarine are highly processed and are produced via chemical extraction. While the majority of them have been banned in multiple countries (2), some spreads and kinds of margarine may still contain some small amounts.
Although clean eating is based on whole, fresh foods, certain types of packaged foods can be included, such as packaged vegetables, nuts, and meat.
For instance, many nuts are roasted in vegetable oil, which can expose them to heat-related damage. It’s best to eat raw nuts — or roast them on your own at a low temperature.
Additionally, pre-washed salad mixes can save time but may harbour additives — especially in the salad dressing that’s often included.
Giving your body enough fluids to carry out those tasks means that you’re staying hydrated.
If you don’t drink enough water each day, you risk becoming dehydrated. Warning signs of dehydration include weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, or urine that’s dark in colour.
So how much water should you drink? Most people need about four to six cups of water each day.
Benefits of drinking water:
- carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells
- flushing bacteria from your bladder
- aiding digestion
- preventing constipation
- normalising blood pressure
- stabilising your heartbeat
- cushioning joints
- protecting organs and tissues
- regulating body temperature
- maintaining electrolyte (sodium) balance.
You should steer clear of packaged snack foods if you’re trying to eat clean.
Crackers, granola bars, muffins, and similar snack foods typically contain refined grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and other unhealthy ingredients.
These processed foods provide little nutritional value.
To avoid grabbing these items when you get hungry between meals, make sure to have healthy snacks on hand.
Good options include nuts, vegetables, and fruits. These foods are tasty, rich in nutrients, and may help protect against disease
- Di Castelnuovo A, Rotondo S, Iacoviello L, Donati MB, De Gaetano G. Meta-analysis of wine and beer consumption in relation to vascular risk. Circulation. 2002 Jun 18;105(24):2836–44.