Easy-to-follow steps towards healthier eating habits!
Clean eating has become the trend for quite a while now. There are probably zillions of articles, books and websites on the subject. And if someone who is not very familiar with nutritional terms tries to deepen their knowledge of clean eating rules, they’ll probably be met with an intimidating avalanche of information. But, really, it’s not nuclear physics we’re talking about. It’s just plain and simple eating habits and choices that need to be pliable in order to fit everyone’s different lifestyle and needs.
So, here’s a list of 12 simple things that you can do to clean up your eating. You won’t find words like “stop” or “quit” in this list. It’s for real-life people. Who sometimes have difficulty quitting favorite habits and just the word “stop” is enough to scare them away. If you’re one of them, instead of focusing on stopping an unhealthy habit you enjoy, focus on creating new healthy ones.
I know what you’re thinking. “Are you kidding me? Is this a clean eating rule?” Well, yes, it is. It’s actually the stepping stone. That’s where it all begins from. You have to learn to love cooking. It’s the only way you can control how healthy your food is and the balance of your portions. And it will help you avoid fast food and restaurant meals that are not always healthy.
2. Limit your intake of highly processed foods.
Whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, the more processed a food is, the less its nutritional value and the more its chemical additives. The reasons are simple. Store products need to last. If we remove some of their nutritive characteristics, they won’t look so appealing to microorganisms, they won’t go stale so fast and their self-life will increase. Add some preservatives and some flavor-boosting and texture-enhancing additives and you have products that look good, taste good and last. Who doesn’t want that?
Do we? Well… not really. If nourishment is your primary purpose of eating and if you don’t want your digestive system and your metabolism to get hit by a chemical storm, think again before you buy your next packaged food. What should you do? Read on.
3. Learn to read food labels.
Beware of foods bearing long ingredient lists!
That’s where you should start from. Although reading a food label is a subject that probably asks for its own, different post, the easiest way to spot a not-so-healthy product is its long list of ingredients, most of them unknown. And if you have trouble pronouncing them, you’ll probably have difficulty in digesting them, too.
4. Shop locally and seasonably.
When it comes to fruit and vegetables, your best choice is products that have been grown close to where you live and are in season. If you choose fruit or vegetables that have traveled from the other side of the world or that have been grown defying the laws of their own nature, you’ll certainly be missing in freshness, nutrition and, above all, flavor. Not to mention the pesticides and other chemicals that will have been used to make them seem fresh and good-looking.
5. Include some protein, carbs and fat in every meal.
ALL of them are needed for a balanced diet. You can’t eliminate carbohydrates just because they are rumored to be making you fat. They are your body’s most important fuel! You can’t cut out fats completely. Your body needs them for a number of important reasons, including organ protection and blood sugar regulation. A diet that has all three in moderation and balance is your key to healthy eating for life.
6. Fill half your plate with vegetables.
Usually loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, they are our bodies’ best friends. Your digestive system loves them and so does the chef inside you, considering all the wonderful recipes they can be used for.
7. Prefer whole grains.
White flour and its products may be delicious but they are also highly processed foods. Why miss out on all the disease-fighting benefits and nutritional advantages that whole grains have to offer? No matter how skeptical you are, just give them a try. Your body will thank you.
8. Opt for healthy fats.
Not all fats are created equal. There are harmful fats and there are fats that your heart is friends with. Choose the second and you instantly boost your healthy eating. Foods like olive oil, avocados, walnuts, fatty fish like salmon and sardines, flaxseed, are just a few of the healthy-fat-foods you can choose to love.
9. Avoid deep-frying.
Deep-fried foods are on the other end of the fat spectrum. Totally unhealthy especially if they have been fried in oil that has been used multiple times. It makes our vegetables or chicken or seafood rich in trans fats, the most malevolent kind for our heart health. Broiling, baking or steaming are much more preferable cooking ways.
10. Cut down on sugar.
This is actually so easy to happen if you avoid packaged processed foods and canned beverages. That’s where the majority of sugar in your diet comes from. Hard to believe? During a nutrition course I attended recently, one of our assignments was to make a list of ten packaged foods with no kind of sugar added. Sounds easy? Why don’t you try it yourself? Even frozen pizzas have sugar in their ingredients’ list! So, if you follow step number 2, this one actually happens on its own!
11. Snack on fruit.
We all snack between meals and when it’s done moderately and with the right foods, there’s nothing wrong about it. Fruit is your best option when it comes to snacking. Full of vitamins, usually rich in water to keep you hydrated and they also keep your blood sugar levels stable. Plus they don’t need any preparation. You don’t think they’re enough to keep hunger at bay? Add some nuts and you’ve got the perfect, healthy, filling snack!
12. Drink water.
This is undeniably the most common habit among healthy eaters. And I’m sure you’ve heard it before but I’ll have to repeat it. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. When the signals of thirst are sent, the body is already entering dehydration mode. Make drinking water a repetitive habit throughout your day. Experts say we need at least 8 glasses a day. If you drink 2 when you wake up and are certainly dehydrated, one before every meal, one before and after exercise, and one before bed, you’ve got it covered. Or you can make your own plan. But DO make one. It easily becomes a habit especially during the warm months that are coming.
I think you’ll agree with me. Clean eating is not nuclear physics after all, is it? And although the more you know about food, the best approach you can have to healthy eating, you don’t have to own a dietitian’s degree just to follow a few simple rules that can help you eat better. And when we eat better, we live better. Do you agree?