There a lot of hype at the moment around the clean eating trend and how to eat clean – mostly positive but some of it negative. Some have taken clean eating too far: watching every morsel that goes into their body and feeling generally miserable in the process.
Many of us are at information overload, we get told to eat certain ‘superfoods‘ one day, then the next we get told that certain superfoods are no more healthier than any other fruit or vegetable, and those expensive lurid green powders and drinks are in fact are just a waste of our money.
So What Should We Do and Who Should We Believe?
In my study of nutrition over many years, I have healed myself of my own severe depression which totally destroyed my life at one point. Thankfully those days are well and truly behind me now thanks to the help of good healing food, and now my mission is to help others find the same freedom from disease – especially mental illness, that I have.
In this post I will help show you the easiest ways to start your own clean eating journey so you too can start healing your own body and mind, and bring yourself to a place of lifelong health and vitality .
I have always liked to just eat foods in their natural form as mother nature intended. In fact, I have been using this crazy method of eating for the last 20 years, and this has gradually evolved into a new understanding of how amazing the human body can look, and feel when given the right fuel.
You will lose excess fat, won’t be affected by stress, anxiety, depression, have tons of energy, a clear mind, and you will knock years off your appearance. Now who can say no to all that?
Keeping It Simple
I have tried and tested many fads that have come and gone over the years, but when it comes down to it it’s really simple – Just keep it SIMPLE. Yes, there are some foods that should be classed as ‘superfoods‘ for the simple fact they contain high amounts of antioxidants and nutrients at much higher levels than other foods. So, some are deserving of this adequately coined status.
The Term ‘Superfood’ Can Be Overused
The problems arise when food companies overuse this term to sell overpriced priced products, and make you believe that you need those obscure berries that can only be found in the heart of the Amazon rain forest.
I have bought into this myself before – and to some extent these berries probably do contain their own unique qualities, after all mother nature put all of these wonderful things on our earth for a reason. But a lot of the foods that deserve ‘superfood‘ status can in fact be bought down the local greengrocers for a fraction of the price.
CHEAP AND EASY TO SOURCE SUPERFOODS
Take a trip to your local supermarket or greengrocer’s and you will find an abundance of superfoods, such as blueberries, broccoli, beetroot, garlic, pomegranates, oily fish, green tea and avocados. Many of which are cheap and easy to prepare, plus many can simply be eaten raw and in their natural state for even more convenience and a higher nutrient value.
Many Super foods Are cheap:
Some people like to use the excuse that they can’t afford to eat healthily, but I say that’s just bull. You can buy foods such as sweet potatoes, or seasonal fruits and vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds and wholegrains for the same price, if not less than most ‘junk‘ foods.
You can make a cheap, healthy and well-rounded meal out of a baked potato and a tin of beans, with a side portion of broccoli. In fact, you can make many combinations of many meals just out of the list above and a few herbs and spices.
The Plant Based Diet and Ultimate Health!
My plant based diet has not only saved me a fortune, but I am healthier than I have ever been, with more energy, less body fat, clearer thinking and better sleep. I would however, only promote this lifestyle to those who are educated on food combining and know how to build a well-rounded meal with plenty of plant proteins.
HOW TO EAT CLEAN – 10 EASY STEPS
Here are 10 things you can start doing today to help you feel healthier, happier and more vibrant than you have ever felt. And most importantly by doing these things for yourself and your family you will be helping them to live longer, happier lives too!
Take it one step at a time, especially if you feel the change is too much in one go: you will learn as you go along and more importantly you will be building new habits and changing your tastebuds for LIFE.
You won’t be perfect at first, but that doesn’t matter because every little change really does adds up. And if you adopt the ideal 90/10 approach you still have room for treats and the things you enjoy because you will be crowding out the unhealthy stuff with the good stuff.
To start your health kick you will be adopting a much lower GI (glycemic index) diet, (glycemic index is a food rating system which is a measurement of how fast sugars in food hit the bloodstream). Junk foods are high GI which is why they give you that instant sugar fix – but inevitably you will crash quickly and be left craving MORE, and so a vicious cycle begins.
It’s this sugar ‘addiction’ that is causing so many modern day diseases and illnesses, making it crucial that we change NOW some of our lifelong sugar habits to avoid the inevitable fall.
1. CLEARING OUT THE JUNK
The first, and most important step on your clean eating journey is to get rid of as much as possible, the foods that are high in saturated fats, salt, preservatives and sugar, which can sometimes mean pretty much everything in your cupboard!
I’m not saying you should just throw food away if your’e uncomfortable with that (you can always donate to your local food bank), or if your’e on a budget and cannot afford to simply clear everything out at once. But you could start by using up what you already have and gradually replace as you go along.
The “Baddies” to Look Out For:
- Oils such as vegetable oil, corn oil, animal fats or lard.
- High fat/salt crisps, chips and snacks.
- Frozen junk food such as ready meals, fries, pizza, hotdogs, or anything battered or deep-fried.
- Refined sugars like those found in chocolate, cakes, sweets and biscuits.
- Drinks such as fizzy pop, concentrated fruit juices and flavoured waters.
- Most breakfast cereals contain massive amounts of sugar, colours, flavours and preservatives.
- Hidden refined sugars, which may come under the names of glucose, fructose, dextrose, corn syrup, cane sugar or brown sugar (I am only stating the most common types of sugar here, but there are more that have chemical names, especially the sugar substitutes).
- You need to check labels on EVERYTHING, as even the things you believe to be a savory product can be loaded with sugars, chemicals, colours, flavourings and preservatives. Some of the worst offenders are pre made sauces, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and chili sauce; canned or jarred pasta sauces and even gravy powders and stock cubes.
At this point, you may start realising the scale of the problem and become overwhelmed, which is totally natural but at least you’re at the point of turning a corner. It just takes a little time to learn new ways of thinking and doing things, which is only possible when you take it one step at a time.
For now it’s a good idea to get rid of some of the obvious unhealthy items, such as the crisps, chips, and refined confectionery and you will already be half way there.
2. REPLACE WITH THE GOOD STUFF
Sounds easy, and it is – really! You can replace all of that bad stuff you have gotten rid of with these alternatives. You don’t have to do this all at once, just replace as you go along, and with every shopping trip you will be getting closer to your healthy and clean pantry.
- Coconut Oil, olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil. You can use coconut and olive oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings, or any use that doesn’t require over heating. Some oils turn rancid and can produce trans fats when either reused or heated to high temperatures, but coconut and olive remain more stable and are therefore a good healthy swap.
- In fact, coconut oil has so many more wonderful benefits that it deserves its own post. Read here for more on the benefits of coconut oil. Here are some coconut oil uses for you to be getting on with:- homemade popcorn cooked in coconut oil, baked tortilla chips, homemade vegetable crisps, raw nuts and seeds.
- Dried, no added sugar fruit, dark chocolate (70% cacoa minimum), homemade granola, fruit, plus homemade healthier versions of biscuits and cakes where YOU can be in control of ingredients.
- Frozen vegetables, frozen fruits, frozen baked potatoes, and healthier options of ready meals are usually available if you can’t live without these convenience foods. Luckily, most big supermarkets do have healthier frozen ready meal options (phew).
- Drinks – Go for healthy green tea, fizzy water with a squeeze of lemon, coconut water or vegetable juices.
- Go for only lean meats or poultry (organic/grass fed where possible) and oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, mackeral, trout. Buying organic meats can be expensive which is why I advocate swapping a lot of your protein for pulses, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds and to head towards a more Plant Based way of eating. Also, most plant based foods are much healthier than their animal alternatives.
- Dairy products can be laden with all sorts of added sugars, so go for plain yoghurt (you can add your own sweeteners such as honey and fruit) or go for non-dairy alternatives such as soya or coconut. Same goes for milk, you can go for milk alternatives such as oat, almond, soya, rice or coconut.
- Buy fresh, in season fruits, vegetables and salads as they are often cheaper, and eat as raw or as lightly cooked as possible. Steaming and fast stir frying are preferable.
- With every meal you make always be sure to include some side vegetables or fruits.
- Buy tinned or dried legumes, such as cannellini beans, baked beans, harricot beans, black beans, butter beans, or chick peas to add to soups and stews instead of meat for a much more cost effective and healthier alternative.
- Nuts, seeds and nut butters – just check they are sugar free.Wholegrain breads, pasta, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, cracked wheat, bulgur wheat and millet. If you feel bloated or sleepy after eating wheat products or gluten then stick to rice, potatoes, pulses, lentils, buckwheat, and quinoa as your carb sources.
- Sweeteners such as raw honey, xylitol, stevia, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, and maple syrup can all be used as an alternative to sugar, but they are still ‘free’ sugars, meaning they are not attached to the whole food (their fibers and other nutrients have been taken out making them high G.I. (unlike eating a whole piece of fruit), so therefore they need to be used in moderation.
Most, if not all of the foods on this list are low GI, but it would be really helpful for you to understand more about the true benefits of this way of eating. Read more here about a Super Healthy Low GI Diet for ultimate belly fat burning, anti aging and possible disease prevention.
3. CHECK LABELS
Get into the habit of checking labels for everything as this will help re-educate you on exactly what is in the food you are eating. A rule of thumb is if you don’t know what an ingredient is and it’s not a natural food, then it is probably an artificial preservative, flavouring or sweetner. As you start to eat clean you will notice that you rarely need to worry about this kind of problem, as you will be eating wholesome natural foods anyway.
4. CHECK YOUR PORTIONS
Most of us are used to having way too big a portion when it comes to meals, and this was always my downfall. Unfortunately, even when you are eating clean you will still need to have portion control, and many healthy foods are still jammed full of calories – just think oils, nuts, and seeds for a start.
I made this mistake when I first started eating clean, believing I could eat as much as I wanted if it was a healthy food – I went crazy with that notion and actually gained weight!
The best way to go is to listen to your body and STOP eating before you are really full. A good tip is to make the bulk of your meals from fruits and vegetables as these fill you up and signal to your brain that you’ve had enough to eat.
5. THE 90/10 FORMULA
If you can adopt these alternatives 90% of the time, then you can save the other 10% for those times when you really fancy something different, or maybe just one of the foods you used to love, or a glass or two of wine. Whatever it is, don’t feel you can’t have it ever again or you will set yourself up for failure.
When you say to yourself ‘I can never have this food again’, whatever it may be, you will immediately crave it. With the 10% leeway this isn’t an issue and as your body gets more and more healthy you will find these cravings will disappear completely…honestly!
6. SUGAR CRAVINGS
Sugar cravings happen to the best of us (especially if hormones have anything to do with it) and is why the 90/10 rule is in place. We all crave something sweet every now and then, it’s only natural especially if we are stressed or tired. The body just wants to find the quickest and easiest way to fuel itself and so it wants SUGAR.
It feels good in the short term, but bad in the long term. Great sugar substitutes are xylitol, stevia, raw honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup – but these still should still be used in moderation.
When in the middle of a sugar craving that you just can’t shake by other distraction methods, then take a teaspoon of maple syrup, or coconut sugar, and ZAP, as if by magic it’s gone.
If you would like more top tips on giving up sugar and how I did it, then please take a gander at my post ‘Quitting Sugar in 6 Easy Steps’.
Here is a short video that explains the exact effects that sugar has on the body. Believe me it’s enough to make you want to make some changes.
7. FOOD COMBINING FOR SATIETY
Learning how to combine foods properly will be of massive benefit to you if you want long term success with clean eating. Protein foods should be combined with equal amounts of low GI carbohydrates, a little fat, and some lightly cooked vegetables.
When you learn the art of correct food combining your sugar levels will remain stable and you will be much less likely to crave unhealthy snacks, so this step really can’t be stressed enough. It is worth noting that quinoa is a pretty much the perfect ‘superfood‘ as it contains perfect ratio’s of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids – so make this grain a BIG part of your clean eating plan.
8. TAKE YOUR OWN FOOD TO WORK
Sometimes healthy eating can be hard in the workplace, which is why you should consider saving leftovers from your healthy dinner the night before to take to work for lunch – or make your own sandwiches, salads, pastas, veggie sticks and hummus, or whatever other healthy snacks you fancy.
Not only will you save a fortune, especially if you usually buy lunch out, but you will know exactly what went into you food which is always a plus.
Rather than being ridiculed for doing this when I first started my healthy eating plan, all my workmates, seeing how glowing I was followed suit, and before I knew it there were pieces of fruit and bags of nuts all over the place. Oh the satisfaction if it!
9. EAT A RAINBOW
No, not literally of course, but do eat a rainbow of colours every day. For example, dark berries, leafy green vegetables, fruits and vegetables, red tomatoes and colourful bell peppers.
Antioxidants are Important for Ant Aging:
It’s the different colour pigments in fruits and vegetables where their cancer busting antioxidants and phytochemicals lie. These antioxidants are important for fighting the free radical damage in our bodies caused by trans fats, smoking, air pollution, alcohol and pesticides: all these among MANY OTHER toxins we are exposed to daily. Try to eat at least 7-10 portions a day of different fruits and vegetables.
10. EATING OUT
Sometimes being a clean eater has its challenges that’s for sure, and eating out with friends and family may be another one of them – especially if they don’t share your clean eating habits. But fortunately these days it is so much easier as most menus will have healthy options, OR they are willing to knock something up for you.
Just stay away from the deep-fried dishes and order some side salad or vegetables, and you can’t go too wrong – and you still have your 90/10 rule for such occasions to go ahead and have that slice of choccy cake.