5 Ways to Clean Up Your Diet
Clean eating is choosing more of the healthier options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats and ditching the processed.
The latest health trend sounds good – “clean” eating – but what does it really mean?
The basic concept of clean eating is to eat whole foods that are minimally processed and as close to their natural form as possible. In many cases, you can eat the foods you love, just a healthier version of them.
Examples of Clean Eating
- Homemade Mac n Cheese with whole grains, real cheddar vs. boxed pasta and powdered cheese
- Salad made with kale or spinach vs. iceberg lettuce
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries vs. flavoured regular yogurt with sweeteners
- Quinoa, brown rice, whole grain pasta vs. processed white rice or noodles in a pouch
- Stir-fry or chili with veggies and beans vs. ground beef
Making conscious decisions about your food choices will improve your overall health. Any small change you make to eat less processed food helps to reduce risk of disease, keep your digestive system healthy, maintain a healthy body weight, get required daily nutrients and fuel an active life.
5 Tips for Clean Eating
Limit Foods With Labels
If it has a label, chances are it has been processed and may contain preservatives and artificial colours, flavours, added sugar, sodium or fats. Choose natural foods as much as possible— fruits, vegetables and meat in their true form, not canned or packaged in syrup, oil or high sodium.
Get Label Savvy
When you do have to buy packaged food, know what you are looking for on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order and, typically, the cleaner the item, the fewer the ingredients. The Nutrition Facts panel can be helpful to ensure you are choosing foods with high protein, high fibre (more than 4grams), low fat, low sodium and low sugar (less than 8 grams) per serving.
Beware of Drinks
Fancy coffees, juice beverages, sodas, and alcohol should all be watched for high sugar and fat. Those drive-thru treats can be dangerous—a popular Grande Iced White Chocolate Mocha will give you 20 grams of fat and 54 grams of sugar in just one DRINK!
Clean Up Your Snacks
It is hard to stop snacking all together, and as long as you are making healthy choices, there is no need to cut out snacks. Choose high protein, high fibre snacks such as hardboiled eggs, Greek yogurt, a handful of nuts and fruits and vegetables with a protein dip such a hummus. These are all clean options that contain many nutrients.
One of the best ways to eat clean is to limit restaurant eating, drive-thrus and pre-packaged meals from the grocery store. It may take a few more minutes to make homemade meals, but your health is worth it.Make muffins, cookies, and even chips at home using healthier recipes that call for applesauce instead of refined sugar, include shredded carrots or berries and bake your own chips from thinly slices apples, sweet potato or zucchini.
Clean eating is choosing the best options that you can most often. Focus on whole foods like fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, lean meat, fish and poultry, high-protein dairy, and whole grains from a variety of food sources and you are well on your way to clean eating.