If you want to lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight, while reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke – not to mention feeling better, it’s time to take some steps towards eating clean. To “eat clean”, at least for a beginner, is simply to improve your consumption of whole, real food.
Get the Junk Out of Your House
For some, the first step may be to eliminate pop. And that first step can be a big one, and take a couple of months to achieve. That’s okay, since that lifestyle choice is going to have a life-long (and a longer-life) payoff.
Eliminate as much processed food as you can from your kitchen. Question everything in a can, box, or jar – read the labels. Those that have unrecognizable ingredients are probably best avoided. Some people say they keep it simple by counting ingredients – and just don’t buy any product with more than five.
Be Choosy When Eating Out
If you want to keep some junk in your diet, save it for when you’re out of the house – fast food, restaurants, and make it occasional. Try to limit yourself to one cheat day a week – there’s some evidence that adding a cheat day may actually help keep weight off.
Eat Good Fats
Don’t get hung up on reducing fat – it’s been proven that low fat diets aren’t the best route to weight loss. Choose good fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, etc.
“It’s not fat that gets stored as fat – it’s sugar.”
– Mark Sisson
If you’re serious about dropping weight (and carbs), considering doing a wheat/gluten free trial period. Individuals with celiac disease average 11 years before diagnosis, and many with gluten-intolerance may not be identified in a celiac test. If you have weight, skin, energy, heart, blood sugar or digestive issues, six weeks of no wheat or gluten should be enough to let you know if you’re feeling better. If you are, you can consider going longer.
Plus, many people lose significant excess weight during that six week period. For more information, read preventative cardiologist Dr. William Davis’ book, Wheat Belly.
“Therefore, wheat products elevate blood sugar levels more than virtually any other carbohydrate, from beans to candy bars. This has important implications for body weight, since glucose is unavoidably accompanied by insulin, the hormone that allows entry of glucose into the cells of the body, converting the glucose to fat. The higher the blood glucose after consumption of food, the greater the insulin level, the more fat is deposited.”
– Dr William Davis, Wheat Belly
Eat Healthy Protein
Ensure you’re getting healthy protein with every meal whenever possible. This can include lean meats, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (learn about slow carbs), nuts, greek yogurt.
Choose a Wide Variety of Vegetables
Ideally, choose fresh vegetables, but frozen can be okay too. Try to get lots of variety – different colors will give you a wide variety of nutrients, and different tastes avoid bland boredom. Learn to make a really tasty salad or stir fry, and discover how to substitute vegetables for less healthy food choices.
Address Nutritional Deficiencies
Be sure you have the nutrition you need, and definitely add a quality multivitamin every day if you don’t already take one. Even those of us who have the knowledge, time and resources for healthy eating are sometimes not able to get all of the nutrients we need from food.
Do What Works For You
There are no “laws” about diet – especially the diet of any unique individual. There are only healthy lifestyle choices that ultimately have to be made by you. So since you know what to do to eat clean, choose to take the steps that are appropriate for you.
Eating clean(er) might involve just a few small improvements, or you may be ready to make an intensive commitment to eliminating gluten, buying only organic and/or eliminating all processed food. Any steps in the direction of choosing to eat clean can only help your health and weight, so congratulations in advance on making positive choices.
Don’t miss our related article on Shopping to Eat Clean.