I'm the type of girl who hates diets. I love food and I love eating (and I especially love my carbs), so going through the diet cycle of losing and gaining weight was frustrating and annoying. Last April, I discovered "eating clean." Yes, there are restrictions, but I felt that I had much more freedom than I did on other fad diets, and I felt and looked great! So for Lent this year, I went back to strictly eating clean again.
Last April, I picked up Tosca Reno's book, The Eat Clean Diet, to get started. In simple terms, it's all about eating all natural food, eating small portions all throughout the day and pairing complex carbs with proteins. Your body doesn't want to run on preservatives, additives and artificial flavors, so simply feed it the right natural ingredients, and I promise you'll feel great!
I recommend purchasing a book like Reno's to begin or at least doing lots of research online. She gives you a lot of background about what foods are good and why and gives you tips to remember along the journey. But like I said, in simple terms, eating clean means eating foods that are in their whole form without any odd ingredients that you don't recognize or can't pronounce.
In order to do this, you have to become label obsessed at first. But the good thing is, instead of looking at the calories, fat or carbs on the label, you're looking at the ingredients. I was surprised to find that some of my favorite foods that I thought were "clean" weren't at all. For example, most peanut butters have added salts and sugars, so I switched to an all natural peanut butter. Even ketchup has added sugar! Whole Food Markets will become your best friends.
Here are some examples of foods that I was eating before that I switched out for clean foods:
White Potatoes -> Sweet Potatoes
White Rice -> Brown Rice or Quinoa
Instant Oatmeal -> Steel Cut Oats
Peanut Butter -> All Natural Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
White Bread -> Whole Wheat Bread
White Pasta -> Whole Wheat Pasta
- Only eat whole foods - no additives, artificial flavoring, etc.
- Check the label - always check the food label to see what ingredients are in the food. You may be surprised with what you find.
- Try to pair complex carbs (like whole wheat bread or brown rice) with proteins (like chicken or almonds)
- Drink lots of water! At least 8 glasses a day.
- Schedule your meals - This makes it a lot easier at the grocery store and so you won't stray away from your plan.
- Try to avoid sugars and sodium as much as possible.
- Eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day.
Remember it may be hard to change your ways at first, but I promise you, it's worth it. Even if you eat clean during the week and save your weekends for indulging, that's making progress! I'll be posting recipes here on my blog (like the maple salmon pictured above), but you can find tons of supplemental information and fun recipes to try on Pinterest too!
Have you ever tried eating strictly clean? What are your favorite clean recipes?