Sarah-Jane Bedwell, SELF magazine
It seems like everywhere you turn these days people are talking about "clean eating." But what does it mean to "eat clean" anyway? Although there is no official definition, my personal interpretation is to focus on eating plenty of whole foods (one-ingredient items like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and fish) while decreasing the amount of processed foods high in preservatives and additives. I say "decreasing" because I don't believe in eliminating any food altogether--every healthy diet has room for a treat now and then. This may sound simple enough; however clean eating is one of those things that can be easier said than done. I believe that eating clean is important for being healthier right now and preventing disease in the future. Try these simple steps to clean up your diet:
Related: Yoga Moves for Flat Abs
1. Eat More Whole Foods: Aim to make over half of everything you eat one-ingredient items that are nutrient-rich (as listed above). One easy way to do this is to swap your processed afternoon snack for a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts or a piece of low-fat cheese. Another way to squeeze more whole foods into your diet is to cook at home more often. For the next couple of weeks, try to limit yourself to eating out only 2-3 times each week.
2. Look for Simple Ingredient Lists: I've mentioned before that ingredients are listed on a label in the order of the amount they occur in the product. So whatever ingredient is listed first is what the product has the most of. A simpler ingredient list may mean that the food is less processed. However, it is important to pay attention to what the ingredients are, as a short ingredient list doesn't always mean the product is healthy (potato chips and ice cream may only have three ingredients). A longer list doesn't always mean the product is bad for you (think whole-grain cereals or vegetable medleys).
Related: Lose 2 Pounds a Week
3. Check that Nothing is Added: It's fine to buy frozen, canned or prepared items, just make sure nothing is added. Look for no-salt added canned vegetables, frozen or dried fruits without added sugar, or meats without preservatives like MSG.
Related: 20 Superfoods for Weight Loss
4. Eat What Makes You Feel Good: Keep a food journal for a few days without changing your eating habits, and then start trying to eat clean and keep a journal doing that for a few days. Instead of focusing on calorie count on these days, simply write down what you ate and any notes about how you feel each day. You may notice a big difference in things like energy level and mood when you start eating clean.
I hope you'll try eating clean for a week and see what a difference it makes- I would love to hear about your experience!