Open Instagram or flip through the glossy pages of any health magazine and I guarantee you’ll see the term “clean eating” at least once. It’s a concept that’s tossed around a lot, but as I’ve learned from my own experience and meeting with clients, it can often feel abstract or hard to achieve. In honor of Bon Appétit April, I’m breaking down the buzzword, sharing why clean eating is the holy grail for a healthy, happy lifestyle, and giving you a few simple tips to start your own journey.
So, what’s the big deal with clean eating?
Clean eating focuses on consuming whole foods and avoiding things that are processed or refined. Essentially, the idea is to eat real foods like fruits, vegetables, lean and/or plant-based proteins and protein-rich whole grains.
It’s a purposeful approach that gives you control over food. You don’t get sucked into all those cravings for salt, sugars, and fats. Instead, clean eating helps us deliberately choose what we put into our bodies, giving us a sense of accomplishment, power, and freedom.
Not only that, clean eating is simply good for your body! Whole foods are nourishing and provide plenty of vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and high-quality protein. This can improve brain and heart health, help with weight management, increase energy levels, and strengthen your immune system.
I know this firsthand. Here are some areas for me personally that changed once I incorporated clean eating into my life:
I’m less hungry and don’t experience cravings, my energy levels are higher, I sleep better, my mood is positive and stable, I experience regular digestion and less bloating, my skin is clearer, sex is more intense, my metabolism is faster and I have better workout performance, my bones are stronger, I know how to indulge wisely, and I’m happier than I have ever been. Seriously, clean eating is life changing.
Okay, this sounds magical. But how the heck do I start?!
Everyone is different -- we all have our own diets, personalities, and emotional relationships with food. Some people can jump right in and completely change their eating habits, while others may need to start slowly. No matter your approach, the goal is eat clean consistently so you can set yourself up for long term success.
When first started out, I focused primarily on elimination and planning. I tried to eliminate the “bad foods” (ie: fried and processed stuff) and replace those with healthy options like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and complex carbs. Meal planning was another helpful way for me to stay consistent and keep on track at every meal. As with any new habit, clean eating gets easier and easier once you dive into it.
To help you get started, here are a few of my simple, go-to tips:
Clean your kitchen: I’m not talking about breaking out the Lysol. By this, I mean go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry and eliminate any processed foods that might set you off track. Then, hit the grocery store and replace the processed stuff with whole foods -- stock up on healthy snacks like raw almonds, hummus and veggies, as well as easy-to-prepare ingredients for healthy meals.
Look at the label: When buying packaged foods (sauces, granola, etc.), it’s important to read the label to see how “clean” what you’re purchasing actually is. (You’d be surprised at what they sneak into even some of the organic “good” stuff!) A great rule of thumb is to scan through the ingredients and ask yourself, “Can I pronounce these things? Do I at least sort-of know what they are and where they come from?” If the list reads more like a chemistry textbook than plain English, set it back on the shelf and look for a different brand.
Plan out your meals: This one is HUGE! Meal planning is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success and stay on track. We’ve all been there: after a busy workday or long afternoon wrangling the kids, the last thing you want to do is cook. It’s tempting to pop something in the microwave or call for takeout, but when you’re prepared -- when you’ve planned for this moment ahead of time, it’s so much easier to stay consistent. Choose one day a week when you can map out your grocery list and meals based on your schedule.
As always, I am here to help! I want YOU to feel like the vibrant, healthy and happy human you deserve to be. I’d love to walk you through my personalized assessment and help you learn how to make changes towards living a clean, healthy lifestyle. Get in touch and let’s start this journey together!