More people want to work more healthy habits into their diet or into their lifestyle. Clean eating is a guideline that is where clean and delicious came from. So my definition of eating clean and healthy is simply eating real whole unprocessed foods as close to their natural state as possible most of the time.
Eat foods like vegetables, fruits, healthy sources of carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and grains, high-quality sources of protein, and healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds. One of the most important pieces of this process is realizing that it’s not about jumping on a fad diet or on to the next health craze.
It’s really about making a long-term commitment to a lifestyle shift for yourself. This way you are not feeling like you are victim to mood swings and cravings that come with eating a lot of highly processed nutrient Void foods.
Allow Yourself To Be On The Journey
When you are a beginner adopting new lifestyle changes and habits, you have to give yourself a little bit of space to figure it out. Don’t feel like you need to do everything at once and everything at the same time. You don’t need to have all your food perfectly meal prepped and you don’t need to stop eating all of your favorites.
This is going to be a process of learning how to do things a new way and that’s going to take a little bit of time. So if you notice your brain wanting to go to that all-or-nothing style of thinking just recognize that that is diet mentality and that it doesn’t work. What you want to do is give yourself a little bit of permission to slow down, create some space, and learn.
Healthy Eating Is Not The Same For Everyone
Eating does not and is not supposed to look the same for everyone. You can be a healthy eater and be a vegan, you can be a vegetarian, you can be a meat-eater, you can be a weightlifter, you can be a yogi, you can eat two times a day, you can eat six times a day and you will also notice that your lifestyle will affect the type of healthy diet you’re eating.
For example a young student versus a working mom of two with a family versus a young professional. All of these people can eat healthy diets and you will see that their plates look very different based on the style of their day, in the style of their life right.
So, there’s no hard-fast rule here other than that simple tie-in that we are eating real whole unprocessed foods as close to their natural state as possible most of the time and we are enjoying the food that we choose.
Cook More Than You Don’t
Making your own food is one of the easiest ways to eat better. This way you are in charge of all of your ingredients. So you know exactly what you’re working with and here’s the deal. That doesn’t mean that you have to cook every single thing you eat. Just trying to get into the habit of cooking more than you don’t and technically that is only 51% of the time.
Quality Over Calories
When you are focused on counting calories you tend to get caught up in feelings of restriction and deprivation. That is because when the brain gets to work trying to stay under or at a certain amount of calories what it tends to do is pay attention to what it can’t have or what it needs to be restricting or what it needs to be eliminating and those thoughts that thought process creates the feeling of deprivation.
Now if you switch your focus to quality the brain starts looking for things that it can add to the diet and all of a sudden food becomes a whole new playground and it’s fun and it’s creative again. Not only does it feel good but it tastes good.
What Grows Together Goes Together
When you buy foods that are in and of the same season they automatically taste good together because Mother Nature has our back. So in case, you’ve never noticed things like brussels sprouts and grapes butternut squash and cranberries berries and basil these foods all grow in the same season and they all taste amazing together which is really good to know because it takes a lot of guesswork out of your cooking.
A great way to have a little bit of fun with this is maybe when you go to the grocery store you pick up one to two new ingredients each week and experiment with it in your kitchen. Try a new method of cooking it, taste test a little, and see if you can find some new favorites.
One good thing to keep in mind is that when ingredients are eaten in the season they grow in, they both have better flavor and a higher nutritional value. So it really truly is a win-win to eat with the seasons.
Back Pocket Recipies
When you are transitioning into healthy eating it is so helpful to have a handful of recipes that you know that you like and that you can make in a reasonable amount of time. I recommend having a few back-pocket recipes for breakfast lunch and dinner and then slowly but surely as you experiment with new things when you have a keeper you can add it into your back pocket.
This way when you feel like you don’t have any time to think you can always lean on this list to help you stay aligned with your goals.
Learn To Read Your Labels
Learning how to read your labels is an easy way to recognize what’s going into your body. A great general rule of thumb to follow is to simply focus on the ingredient list. You want that list to be 5 ingredients or less and you want to make sure that each ingredient you can read, recognize, and pronounce.
Avoid Highly Processed Foods
To be clear a lot of healthy foods are slightly processed. Oatmeal is slightly processed, quinoa is so lightly processed, frozen vegetables are so lightly processed. I mean basically, if it’s not coming straight from the farm or the field it’s going to begin a series of processing.
These slightly processed foods are not the foods that I am referring to and they are certainly not the foods that you need to be concerned about. The foods that you want to be avoided are those very highly processed foods. These are the foods that are going through lots of steps and lots of processing before they ever make it to your plate.
Some people like to call them Frankenfoods. These are basically foods that are made in the factories and here’s the thing the real problem with these foods. They are so concentrated in fats sugars and salts that they really wipe out your palate because they’re bombarding the tastebuds with this concentration of fashion or salt and so we can’t appreciate the natural flavor and subtleties of the real whole foods.
So if you find that you do eat a lot of highly processed foods what you want to start to do is a baby step your way out of that so you can start to appreciate real whole subtle flavors again.
Avoid Artificial Ingredients
These artificial flavors and sweeteners are literally designed to bypass the logical part of the brain and trigger all of those pleasure points in the brain. So what happens is you find yourself wanting more and more and you don’t really even know why. You kind of feel like you’re not in control of the whole show because you’re not and because it’s not really real food.
Your body is not really even sure what to do with it plus we tend to play this little psychological game with ourselves when it comes to fake sugars and nonfat foods. Studies have shown that eating artificial sweeteners actually creates more desire to eat more sugar.
Practice Meal Prepping
It’s a good idea to get in the habit of learning how to cook once and then eat two, three, or four times. This is going to save you a lot of time and a lot of sanity in the long run and you could start off really easy.
So maybe you just make one big pot of soup and then you use that for some lunches or for some dinners during the week or maybe you just set yourself up with some overnight oats and then you have your breakfast all ready to go.
Stock Your Pantry And Freezer
Keeping some healthy staples on hand in your pantry and your freezer can be a huge help when the time is not on your side. So this way when you’re in a pinch you know you’ve got something that you can lean on and you can also use these items to build a meal with some of the fresh ingredients you may have in your fridge.
Follow Your Hunger
So many people are in the habit of eating according to a clock or according to a diet plan or according to what the experts tell them. We become very out of touch with the natural built-in biological signs that tell us when we are hungry. Yes, the body does know when it needs food and it does feed us signals to let us know, and reconnecting with the system is your best bet for long-term effortless healthy eating habits.
Once you’ve reconnected to it you don’t have to think about it so much. You just kind of feel it. So a good little tool to try to practice this would be if you think you’re hungry but you’re not sure, ask yourself would I be willing to eat an apple. If the answer is yes you’re probably hungry and if the answer is no you may not be hungry yet.
So you just wait a little longer and then pose the same question again. This is a practice so it’s going to take a little bit of time. It’s like doing a little dance with yourself so don’t be in a hurry give yourself the time and the space to figure it out.
Connect To Your Why
So often when we are trying to create some type of change we do it from a place of I need to have to or I really should. What you need to recognize is that number one that’s not true and number two those thoughts are very stressful.
Remember that you are perfect, beautiful, worthy, and valuable just the way you are no need to change a thing unless of course, you want to and if you do want to then ask yourself why. Make sure that that desire is coming from a place of love.
It’s Not Just About The Plate
When it comes to healthy eating, so many of us get very laser-focused on the food that’s on top of our plate. We have to remember that we get nourished by a lot of things in life. So how we eat, why we’re eating, where we’re eating, who we are eating with all of these components can create a healthy or unhealthy eating environment.
A lot of times when we’re trying to do better and we’re trying to make a change with our food we tend to get very militant. We tend to push and try and willpower our way to the other side. What I want to remind you of is that there really is no rush and there is no finish line and there is no gold medal when you get there.
So what you want to do is learn to be patient, easy, soft, and curious with yourself on the journey because in so many ways learning to eat better and take great care of your body it’s really just a way of creating a more intimate relationship with yourself.
It’s like getting to know you and your body just a little bit better and seeing what works for you and seeing what feels the best for you right. So we can do all of this without being critical and without being hard on ourselves and really just give ourselves again that permission and that space to learn and adapt to new habits and new lifestyle changes.