Eat Healthy for Under
How to Start Eating Clean
Eating clean is a popular way to ensure that you are consuming healthier foods. To eat clean, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Then, get into the habit of reading labels and preparing your own foods. Start with some simple meals and recipes to make following a clean-eating plan effortless and appealing!
Choosing Clean Foods
Focus on fruits and vegetables.The basis of a clean eating plan should be whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Try to buy fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Include 1 or 2 servings of veggies or fruit with every meal.
- If you don’t like to wash and cut produce yourself, you can purchase pre-washed and cut fresh produce.
- Frozen produce is also a good option because it is minimally processed. It may even be higher in nutrients than some fresh produce.
- Avoid canned produce since it contains added salt and other preservatives.
Incorporate 2 to 3 servings of whole grains each day.Whole grains should make up the majority of your starches since they contain more fiber and nutrients than white grains. Eliminate white bread, pasta, flour, and rice from your diet. Replace these foods with whole grain options, such as whole wheat bread, pasta, and flour, and brown rice.
- Other good sources of whole grain include barley, quinoa, amaranth, and oats.
- Opt for 100% whole wheat bread, tortillas, bagels, and other baked goods.
Add a serving of lean protein to each meal.Protein helps to keep you feeling full for longer than carbs or fats, so make sure to get 2 to 3 servings of lean protein per day. All or most of the meals you eat should have 1 serving of lean protein.
- For example, you could include 1 serving of lean protein with your breakfast by having a container of Greek yogurt, or add a serving of light canned tuna in water for lunch, or round out dinner by having a serving of grilled skinless chicken breast.
- Other meat and fish sources of protein include lean ground beef, ground turkey, lean cuts of pork, shrimp, salmon, cod, haddock, and scallops.
- Non-meat sources of protein include tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Include healthy fat sources in moderation.Fat helps with satiety, but too much fat will increase your overall caloric intake. Keep your servings of fattening foods to no more than 3 servings daily. Some good clean options for fats include:
- Olive oil
- Nut butters (without added sugar, salt, or oils)
Drink water as your main source of fluid.Water is essential to a clean eating plan, so make sure that you are drinking at least eight 8 fl oz (240 mL) glasses of water daily. Drink water with your meals and between them to keep yourself hydrated.
- Try carrying a water bottle wherever you go and refill it as needed throughout the day!
- You can also drink coffee, tea, and sparkling water as part of your daily fluid intake.
Developing Clean Eating Habits
Read the label to check for recognizable ingredients.It is important to get in the habit of reading labels when you are trying to eat clean. Locate the ingredient list on a product before you buy it, and read through the ingredients. If you do not recognize an ingredient, the item is probably not compatible with a clean eating plan.
- For example, if a packaged food contains lecithin, hydrogenated soybean oil, or xanthan gum, you might want to pass on it.
- Keep in mind that it is okay to splurge now and then. If you have a favorite food that contains some questionable ingredients, limit yourself to eating it once per week or once per month.
Avoid foods with added sugar, salt, and fat.Another way to determine if a packaged food is clean-eating friendly is to look at the nutrition information. If the product is high in sugar, sodium, or fat, then it is likely not clean-friendly.
- No more than 30% of your total daily calories should come from fat.For example, if you eat 1,500 calories in a day, no more than 450 of those calories should be from fat.
- It is best to limit your total daily sodium to no more than 1,500 mg.Look for foods labeled as low sodium and avoid adding salt to your food.
- Women should have no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar daily, and men should have no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams).Check the nutrition information on the label to find the amount of added sugar in a food.
Choose whole versions of foods over processed ones.Processed foods often have fewer nutrients than whole foods, and they may also have added preservatives, flavors, and colors. The closer you can get to the food’s original form, the better! If you are fond of a certain processed food, then try to find an alternative that is less processed.
- For example, if you like granola bars for breakfast, try having a bowl of steel cut oats with fruit and nuts added into it instead.
- If you are a fan of beef jerky, choose a beef jerky without artificial flavors or colors.
- Instead of a fruit rollup, have a serving of dried fruit.
Shop around the perimeter at the supermarket.The easiest way to avoid packaged and highly-processed foods at the grocery store is to stick to the outer aisles. This is usually where the least processed foods are located, such as the fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy products.
- You may still need to go down a few of the interior aisles to find items like olive oil, nuts, and whole grains. Just steer clear of the cookies, crackers, chips, and other convenience foods.
Get a cookbook and start preparing meals at home.Cooking for yourself is an excellent way to eat clean and save money at the same time. If you don’t usually cook, get a clean-eating cookbook meant for beginners, or look up easy clean-eating recipes online.
- Choose a simple recipe for your first venture into clean-cooking, such as a 5-ingredient stir-fry or a simple baked chicken dish.
Request substitutions to eat clean when you eat out.To ensure that you are sticking with your clean eating plan when you eat out, you might need to ask your server for some substitutions. Some simple ways that you can choose clean options in a restaurant include:
- Opting for oil-based dressings on salads or requesting oil and vinegar on the side.
- Requesting a lettuce wrap for your burger instead of a bun.
- Choosing grilled options over fried ones, such as grilled chicken instead of fried chicken.
- Sticking with coffee or a plain, unsweetened latte instead of a flavored latte.
Trying Simple Clean-Eating Recipes
Make an egg and veggie scramble for breakfast.Heat 0.5 fluid ounces (15 mL) of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add 8 ounces (230 g) of fresh or frozen cut vegetables of your choice to the pan. Stir the veggies every 2 to 3 minutes as they cook. When the veggies are heated through, add 2 eggs and continue stirring every 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the veggie scramble from the heat when the eggs are cooked and enjoy!
Choose whole or dried fruit for snacks and desserts.Fruit is an excellent snack when you are eating clean. It is filling and nutritious. Wash, peel, and/or cut a serving of whole fruit. Some good options include:
Try a veggie sandwich on whole grain bread for an easy lunch.Load up a couple of slices of whole wheat bread with the fresh veggies of your choice, such as cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Add some avocado and/or hummus to your sandwich in place of processed condiments.
- If you want to add some lean protein, add a couple of slices of low-fat cheese, 3 ounces (85 g) of turkey breast deli-slices, or 1 cooked veggie burger.
Toss a salad for lunch or dinner.Start with a bed of fresh, washed lettuce and add chopped carrots, tomato slices, cucumber slices, sprouts, and chopped onions. Top the salad with a serving of lean protein, such as drained, canned light tuna or grilled chicken. Then, add some clean salad dressing that contains ingredients you recognize.
- Clean salad dressings are usually oil based and have only a few ingredients. For an extra clean option, make your own dressing with equal parts oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Then, add herbs, spices, and salt to taste.
- If desired, you can also add a serving of healthy fats to your salad, such as avocado slices, walnuts, or olives.
Make brown rice with stir-fried chicken and veggies for dinner.Stir-fried vegetables retain more nutrients than they would with other cooking methods. Add about 0.5 fluid ounces (15 mL) of sesame oil to a wok on medium-high heat. Then, add chunks of raw chicken and stir every 2 to 3 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, add a few cups of assorted raw veggies, such as carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers. Stir-fry the chicken and veggies for about 5 more minutes, then turn off the stove.
- Serve the chicken and veggies over cooked brown rice with soy sauce to taste.
- You can substitute beef, shrimp, or tofu for the chicken if you prefer.
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