Changing the way you eat is the most important step in changing your weight. Add 3-5 days of fitness and you have just created an equation equaling a healthy weight loss. But changing your diet is often the most feared. We love the way simple foods can improve our mood in an instant. It’s the comfort factor that’s hard to break away from.
So, what is clean eating? Clean eating is to eat as Mother Nature intended us to eat: wholesome and natural, consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Man made foods and ingredients should be eaten occasionally and eventually not eaten at all. A simple rule of thumb is “if man made it, don’t eat it.”
Walk down any market isle and you will see 3-4 different choices of the same product. Light, fat free, original, sugar free are the most common, and it can be very overwhelming. You buy them thinking that the are “better for you and your waistline”. Chances are you dig in and chow down, eating more calories then you would if you were to buy a package of original, or avoiding the product all together. I challenge you to take your eyes from the nutritional value and read the ingredient list. Can you pronounce them? Do they sound appealing? Can you recognize ALL of them? I know, I know… the product claims to have only 110 calories and 1 gram of fat, healthy right? Think again.
Here is a simple comparison of a product that we all have in our household: maple syrup.
The list on the left is from a sugar free “maple” syrup and the one on the right is from a 100% pure maple syrup. See any differences? Let’s first look at the natural ingredients. On the left: water, salt and mentions of corn. How does the one on the right look: 100% pure maple syrup.
“But sugar is bad for you!”
Yes, to a point. But I bet it’s better for you than sodium hexametaphosphate. (I know, I can’t pronounce it either)
I know it’s hard to get look beyond the calories and fat. I used to buy nothing but low fat, fat free and sugar free food, fearing that if I had one bite of “regular” food I would turn into a balloon. Products are marketed to appear appealing to those that are struggling with their weight and diet. “Sugar, fat and calories are the enemy and that is why I have love handles.” Our bodies need a healthy dose of fat, sugar and, most importantly, REAL food to function.
There are some general rules to follow for eating clean: (these are taken from Clean Eating Magazine)
- Eat five to six times a day – three meals plus two to three snacks in between. Include a variety of lean protein, fruits, vegetables and complex carbs. It will help you feel satisfied and energized all day long.
- Drink at least two liters of water daily – look into purchasing a BPA free water container as most plastic bottles have BPA in their material.
- Know your labels – Read the ingredient list, making sure you eliminate products that contain man made ingredients. Don’t know what it is? Don’t eat it!
- Avoid processed and refined foods – White flour, sugar, bread and pasta. Look for alternatives that taste better and are healthier.
- Consume healthy fats – Fatty acids are essential to our bodies. Avocados, nuts, olive oil, flax are a handful of readily available good-for-you fats.
- Slow down and savor – Embrace the goodness of whole foods, savor every bite and eat slowly.
- Incorporate your entire family – Since this is a lifestyle change, it’s important to involve the ones you love the most. Help your significant other and your children understand the importance of eating well. This will make your success greater and help all of achieve a great appreciation of the food you eat.
Most importantly, take small steps, educate yourself and mentally prepare. Diets don’t work for a reason but this is not a diet – it is a way of life and eating. Read online blogs, buy magazines but most importantly do it for your health. You have one body – feed it well!