When it comes to diet and nutrition it seems like every week there is a new list of foods that you “should never eat”.
You’ve heard it all: Eat more fat!
Carbs only at night.
Protein is the answer.
It’s confusing and makes clean eating difficult.....
In this article we’ll go over the basic principles of clean eating that will serve you well as you strive to live a healthy lifestyle. These clean eating tips are based off of the quote by Michael Pollan (1), who elegantly summed up healthy eating as follows:
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
This is the essence of a healthy diet. Below, we’ll go into this in more detail and give some helpful clean eating tips.
1.“Prepare” Every Calorie You Eat
One of the best things you can do to eliminate unhealthy foods is to make the food that you eat. By “make” we mean preparing it; baking, cooking, etc.
When you make the food that you eat, you get a couple of benefits. One, you know exactly what’s in the food (there is no mystery). And two, you have a deeper connection with your food. If you spend time and energy making a meal, you aren't going to wolf it down. You’ll enjoy it and savor it.
So strive to eat more food that you prepare yourself.
If cooking isn't your forte, consider taking a simple cooking class. It is a valuable life skill. Everyone should have a few go-to meals that they can whip up.
2. Reduce Inflammatory Food Intake
The typical American eats far too many pro-inflammatory foods. Inflammatory foods include foods that are high in omega-6’s, which increase your body’s inflammatory response (you can read morehere).
Avoid these foods that are high in omega-6’s:
•Vegetable oils (such ascorn, sunflower, or safflower)
•Processed snack foods (like cookies and crackers)
A good way to counteract this is by eating a diet high in omega-3’s. You’ve heard about omega-3, it’s the fatty substance found in fish that is so healthy for your body!
Foods rich in omega 3’s include:
•fish (especially oily fish like salmon and sardines)
A healthy diet should maintain an omega-3:omega-6 ratio of 1:2 or 1:4. That being said, the typical American diet is, on average between 1:20 and 1:50, not good!
A simple way to help improve your ratio is to eat fish once a week. Fish are a fantastic source of omega 3’s. You can also take a fish oil supplement, just make sure to take it at right time of day.
Cutting down on pre-packaged food will reduce omega-6 consumption as the oils used in pre-packaged foods tend to be high in omega-6’s.
3. Eat Less Pre-Packaged Food
Want to eat cleaner? Then start eating less pre-packaged food. That includes some pre-packaged foods that are listed as “health foods”.
Foods that are designed to sit on a shelf for 18-24 months are not your friend. They are usually full of added ingredients and chemicals that help to extend their shelf life.
Do yourself a favor and eat more fresh foods.
A simple tip is to shop on the perimeter of your grocery store (where all of the fresh food is stored). Foods on the inner shelves tend to be pre-packaged and are often full of harmful chemical additives. Just following this simple trick will help to increase your fiber intake and overall wellbeing.
4. Have Variety With Your Food
A major key to maintaining a healthful diet is to eat a variety of foods. Don’t get bogged down into eating the same bland foods. Make it a point to try out a new food every time you go to the grocery store (and no, a new flavor of Doritos doesn’t count!).
As well as trying new foods, try out new recipes. For instance, you’ve probably purchased hummus at your local grocery store, but did you know that you can easily make it at home? Here’s a simple and quickhummus recipe, it takes just a few minutes to make a fresh batch!
5. Drink More Water
This tip is simple, drink more water. Soda and coffee (and other drinks) tend to be full of sugar and other other unhealthy additives. While it’s ok to have those things in moderation, make sure that your drink of choice is water.
Not only does water hydrate your body and help to keep it functioning properly, it also can help to keep you full. The rule of thumb is to drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day.
If reducing your coffee consumption is difficult, consider drinking tea. Green tea in particular has many benefits, including its L-theanine content. It can help to give a stead, focused energy. If drinking tea isn't your thing, consider taking a supplement with Suntheanine; an isolated, natural form of theanine.
6. Eat With People (and without technology)
Make sure to regularly share meals with friends and family. Studies show that sharing a meal with family members helps to build up relational bonds, and also helps with maintaining good health (2).
Don’t eat alone while scrolling through the internet. Spend that valuable time being with others. Here’s a helpfularticle that talks about how you can start to be more intentional with how you choose to spend your meal time.
7. Enjoy Food
When you eat a meal, truly enjoy it. Sit down and savor each bite. Enjoy the food you eat. Cooking can be a chore. Gathering family together for a meal can be difficult. Creating nutrient-dense recipes can be a thankless job.
But through it all, take the time to truly enjoy your food.
In closing, nutrition is tricky. There are a lot of methodologies, and each different approach may work (depending on genetics and lifestyle). However, rather than nutrition fads and trends, make sure to look at the principles of healthy eating.