What is Clean Eating?

Eating clean is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle choice.

Dieting as a way of life is not fun and it does not work. It’s a physical and emotional drain that robs us of a rewarding relationship with food. Clean eating can change the way you look and feel.

If your meals do not supply the basic building blocks to help your body train and feel good, your body will reward you with aches & pains, difficulty moving and physical sluggishness. That lethargy you feel after a meal high in sugar and carbohydrates is not all in your head!

Any change in behavior takes a long time and changing your diet is no exception. The rest of your life is a marathon not a sprint. Understand that the transition will take time. Commit to two months of clean eating-you may not be perfect but start the journey-and see if it works for you. Your body will thank you.

There are many expert opinions on food and nutrition. Here are some of the more important tenets that converge across the scientific and popular body of knowledge related to eating clean:

Eat foods in their natural state-avoid processed foods.

You have to cook. You can cook every day or cook ahead of time and freeze food for the week. Fast food, take-out and frequent dining out have to be a thing of the past. If you don’t know how to cook, you need to learn. And, it can be fun!

Consume four to five small meals a day.

You have to plan your meals. Getting caught hungry with no healthy eating choices will sabotage your efforts quickly. It’s OK to eat the same things day after day, especially for certain meals like breakfast and lunch where time constraints may exist.

Protein, vegetables and good fats are part of every meal.

You can never get too many vegetables-eat your colors. Fresh Produce prepared correctly tastes wonderful, and provides important vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. If you are healthy and trying to build lean muscle mass, increase protein intake. Protein intake balances the hormonal regulatory response to carbohydrate intake thereby blunting effects on glucose and insulin. Eat protein with every meal.

Consume carbohydrates high in fiber (whole grains) earlier in the day.

Match carbohydrate intake to energy expenditure. Whole grains tend to contribute a lot of calories. The body functions best when carbohydrates are limited to quantities required for near term energy use (like work outs). If you are trying to lose, keep whole grains low.

Sugar is out or used sparingly.

Know your sugar demon and if you are susceptible, stay far, far away. Sugar is addictive for a great many of us. Try getting your sugar from fruit instead and get an added micronutrient boost. But don’t go crazy with fruit-it’s still largely sugar and should be used as a treat not a food staple.

Control portion size.

You still have to count calories. Know your numbers. Get a scale and learn to accurately assess portion size. Adjust your caloric intake to keep body mass index and percent lean muscle mass in a healthy range. Exercise is not a substitute for controlling calories. It takes 36 miles of running on average to burn a single pound. That’s not a practical way to lose ten pounds.

Sound like too much work? If so, you are not ready to make the change. It takes time and effort and there are no shortcuts. Changing behavior is tough. A good way to start is through food journaling. Find a decent food diary app and get started.

We are what we eat!

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