You may have seen me write about clean eating, and wondered what it is. I try to eat clean the majority of the time, as it helps me maintain my weight and not feel sluggish. My skin is so much better when I eat clean, I have more energy and I generally feel so much better. If you are really serious about losing weight and toning up, then eating this way will help you get there. Remember, you can’t workout a bad diet.
For me, here is what eating clean involves:
- Cutting out chemicals. This means processed foods. Take a look at the ingredients in ready meals, tinned soup etc and see how many of the ingredients you can pronounce. I bet your don’t even know what a lot of them are. I also include artificial sweeteners in this too. You can see my post on why diet foods are bad for you here. When I first started losing weight, I ate LOADS of processed food. I bought into the whole “this is a diet food, and therefore good for you” thing and ended up having so many horrible ingredients just because I wanted to lose weight. I regret it so much, because whilst I did lose weight in the beginning, it gave me crazy cravings and made my weight yo-yo. It was only when I cut all of that out and started making things from scratch that I actually became health and lost weight at the right pace.
- Eat lots of things that grow, rather than those that are made. This follows on from the above point. Include lots of green and leafy vegetables in your diet and snack on fruit. Basically, avoid anything that can’t rot.
- Less than 5. As a general rule, I don’t buy things that have more than 5 ingredients in them. This cuts down the risk that I am eating things I can’t pronounce and keeps me healthier.
- Eat 5-6 meals a day. This is one of the ones I find hardest, because it is so different to how I have eaten my whole life, but it makes so much difference when I stick to it. Rather than eating 3 bigger meals a day, I eat 5-6 smaller meals and try not to go 3 hours without eating. This stops me from snacking and keeps my blood sugar stable.
- Eat whole grains. I don’t avoid carbs. I have tried it in the past and it was a stupid decision. I lost weight initially, but then it all came back, and more. Instead of loading up on white pasta and bread like I used to, I stick to whole-wheat bread and pasta (although I don’t go overboard on those) and enjoy lots of couscous, bulgar wheat and brown rice.
- Eat lean protein. Whilst I was a vegetarian for 10 years (and through the majority of the time I was losing weight), I am now eating meat and feeling so much better for it. Eating lean protein like chicken and turkey keeps me much fuller and less likely to snack. I also still keep my diet full of protein like beans and tofu too. It goes without saying, but don’t fry your protein.
- Cut right back on sugar. I don’t obsess over the sugar in fruit, I mean refined sugar. I try not to have meals that have more than 6g per meal. This means that cakes and chocolate are not part of my every day eating, even if they are within my daily calories and I never have soda. I know that works fine for some people, but it just doesn’t work for me. I will have some sugar in the week as part of my treat though. Just not every day.
- Cut back on saturated fat and replace with healthy fat. Get rid of the fried foods and start having olive oil, oily fish, nuts and avocados.
- Drink lots of water. This is one of the most important and probably made the biggest difference to my weight loss. I drink around 10 glasses of water a day, more when I have a tough workout, and it stops me from being bloated, keeps my skin clean stops me holding on to water weight.
You don’t need to make all these changes at once, otherwise you may seem a bit overwhelmed and give up. Just start making little changes like drinking more water and swapping white bread for whole-wheat bread and then go from there. What is comes down to is cutting out the crap and eating whole foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Eating this way allows me to not count calories and trust the whole, healthy foods I am eating.
I am not perfect, no-one is, and I don’t stick to this 100% of the time. Some people who are really committed to eating clean, also avoid alcohol. I still enjoy a couple of glasses of wine during the week. I also do enjoy a slice of chocolate cake, or a cookie, I just make them myself so I know exactly what goes into it. I don’t let it take over my life and obsess over it, but these are the general rules to my general eating.
Life is there to be enjoyed, and that means allowing yourself the things you like once in a while. But, if I hadn’t made the decision to get healthy, I probably wouldn’t have been around very long to enjoy life and eating clean is what helped me get healthy. I stick to this plan the majority of the time, but still enjoy foods off the plan once in a while too – it’s all about moderation.