Eating clean is one of the initial steps towards a healthy lifestyle. Mostly it is presumed that eating clean is time-consuming, complicated and expensive. This is purely a misconception and a simple excuse to continue with an unhealthy diet. Eating clean is nothing but consuming natural, unaltered food with highest nutritional benefits instead of packaged and processed foods. Following a clean diet is easy if it includes delicious foods of huge varieties. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, sea food, spices and herbs; all these come under clean eating if they are in real form and free from preservatives, additives, unhealthy fats and extra amounts of salt and sugar.
Following are a few useful tips to begin with a clean-eating plan without putting much effort:
1. Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients that aid in fighting inflammation. Their intake in raw form decreases the risk of developing chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, liver problems and cancer. If you go for organic produce, the fiber obtained from them maintains your microbiome and consequently helps in avoiding autoimmune diseases and fighting off infections. You can include more vegetables and fruits in your diet by making colorful salads, preparing toppings of veggies, herbs and olive oil to use every time with your meals, and adding citrus fruits, apples and berries to your favorite recipes.
2. Go for Whole Grains
Whole grains are highly nutritious and rich in fiber compared to white grains and refined carbs. They contain inflammation-fighting enzymes and antioxidants that help in promoting a healthy gut. They also prove helpful for people who want to lose some extra pounds and maintain healthy weight. Therefore, avoid consuming white bread, flour, pasta and rice when following clean eating. Include whole grain foods like brown rice, whole wheat bread, flour and pasta. Other options for whole grain foods include amaranth, oats, quinoa and barley.
3. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed items are a modified form of the raw foods and so they lose the essential nutrients and minerals found in natural state. Artificial colors and flavors, added sugar, preservatives and chemicals are the main highlights of processed foods. Healthy eating requires you to stay away from processed foods since they are low in nutrients, high in calories and are likely to cause heart diseases and develop inflammation. Even if you do not find any unhealthy ingredient in a processed food, they can never provide you the benefits that are offered by whole foods.
4. Cut Down Added Sugar, Salt and Fats
You must eliminate added sugar from your diet while following clean eating. Foods high in sugar and fats increase your calories and may lead to serious health conditions like obesity, fatty liver, diabetes and cancer. You can take natural sugar in the form of sweet fruits and dairy, maple syrup or honey if you are not suffering from diabetes or other similar diseases; otherwise avoid any form of sugar completely. Likewise, high sodium intake is hazardous for health as it can raise your blood pressure and result in chronic kidney diseases. Packaged foods usually contain more sodium and fats than home-made foods. You can replace table salt with coarse sea-salt as it has low sodium whereas vinegar, spices and herbs can be used to add flavors to cook clean-eating dishes.
5. Stay Away From Spreads and Vegetable Oils
Margarine and vegetable oil do not come under clean eating diet as they are derived through chemical extraction and are processed under certain conditions. There are some vegetable oils that have a high concentration of omega-6 fat called linoleic acid. Medical experts believe that it contributes in increasing inflammation, weight gain and cardiovascular diseases. However, it is advised that you should eat healthy fats in limited amount. You can replace vegetable oils with olive oil and can have nuts, avocado, grass fed butter, and fatty fish for healthy fats.
6. Consume Less Red Meat
Clean eating does not require you to avoid meat completely but according to various studies, eating less red meat leads you towards good health. When you shift to vegetables and avoid eating excess meat; this lowers your blood pressure, avoids heart diseases and helps you maintain healthy weight. Additionally, more veggies in diet mean more fiber, minerals, vitamins and healthy fats are entering in your body. And don’t feel that you will not be able to get enough protein due to low meat consumption, You have chicken, lean pork, grass fed beef(in moderation), and shellfish. There are other options such as dairy products, eggs, beans, and different types of nuts.
Many people have used rather extreme diet changes to lose large amounts of weight and once they reached their goals, switched over to a clean diet. This has allowed them to eat well, stay healthy, and continue to maintain their weight.