I always preach to my patients about making lifestyle changes. This is not a diet or weight loss plan or program; it is a lifestyle change! Eating clean falls into this category; it should not be something done in the short-term or as a fad, but for life. Clean eating does not have to be difficult or challenging. It will take some time management on your part to implement it and follow but you will be rewarded with improved health, increased energy and weight loss!
In our busy and hectic lifestyles, we are always looking for something quick and handy when it comes to eating and foods. We often buy processed items or items that are not very healthy. Clean eating eliminates eating processed foods, i.e. those foods that taste good but are chocked full of preservatives and not so good for us. These are the items you find in the aisles of your grocery store.
So how do you start eating clean?
I recommend cleaning out the cupboards and pantries of all things processed: basically get rid of anything packaged, in boxes or cans, or things with additives to preserve the items shelf life, etc. Avoid shopping up and down the aisles of the grocery store. Shop the perimeter; if you stick to the perimeter, you will be shopping the areas where the fresh foods are. Stores have figured out more and more people are doing this, so items from the aisles are often displayed in the middle of the floor out near the produce, meat and dairy sections. So what will you shop for and purchase….fresh foods: fruits, vegetables, lean cuts of meat, poultry, pork, fish, seafood, dairy products, whole grains, soy/tofu products. What does this mean for your life? Feeling better, having more energy, losing weight, and overall better health!
With a little advance preparation, clean eating can be easier. Plan ahead: figure out your meals in advance. Prepare your meals in advance and freeze them if this is appropriate and helpful.
How do you do it?
For me, this typically means 2 trips to the grocery each week to keep fresh items in the house. I buy fresh produce in limited quantities so items do not go to waste if they do not get eaten. I also store my items within eyesight and easy reach for myself, my husband and our children. If it is within eyesight and reach, we are all more likely to grab it and eat it.
Initially my kids hated me introducing clean eating in our lives. Only because they had become accustomed to quick and easy (as well all have!). They were used to walking into the pantry, grabbing something, ripping it open and eating it. Now it may require them to wash the product or peel it, occasionally cutting it or getting out the peanut butter to spread on, but it is tastier than the processed snack items and definitely much healthier! Trust me, I know first hand it is a challenge with kids to get them to adopt the clean eating lifestyle, but once you implement it, they forget about their previous eating habits and are perfectly content in their new way of life!
Some Clean Eating Ideas:
Snacks: Sliced apple and 2 tsp of peanut butter; or drizzle honey and fresh cinnamon over your apples for a sweet and tasty treat! Baby carrots dipped in hummus. Fresh fruit including strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwi. Blend of raw vegetables including carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas and low fat Ranch dressing.
Breakfast Ideas: Steel cut oats with fresh berries and walnuts. Egg sandwich: scrambled eggs/egg whites (2-3) with fresh vegetables (mushrooms, green/red/orange peppers, onion, etc) and sprinkled with cheese and placed on a toasted sandwich skinny round. Eggs, Canadian bacon, slice of whole wheat toast. Toasted banana and peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread or sandwich skinny. Greek yogurt (Yoplaits 100 calorie flavored Greek is great!) with a handful of raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts). Fresh smoothie to drink on the go–start with a half cup of greek yogurt, add kale, mixed berries, almond milk (more to liquefy, less if you want it thicker) and ice–blend and enjoy!
Lunch/Dinner Ideas: Grilled chicken breast with a vegetable medley and half of a baked potato with reduced fat butter and plain greek yogurt (tastes similar to sour cream). Grilled salmon, side of sautéed fresh asparagus, and brown rice. 97% lean ground beef browned and simmered with spaghetti sauce, fresh mushrooms, garlic then pour over whole grain pasta; add a salad with a fresh mix of vegetables and low calorie dressing and your meal is complete. Make extras so you have plenty left over for a quick lunch!
I hope this post encourages you to eat cleaner and gives you plenty of ideas to get you started on a journey to your new lifestyle!