Clean eating is gaining a lot of attention as people look for new ways to lead a healthier life. Clean eating is actually quite simple – simple, but not necessarily easy.

In basic terms, the goal of this way of eating is to consume “clean” whole foods that are minimally processed, refined or come from a natural source. It challenges us to choose more fruits and vegetables as well as foods that are free of additives and preservatives.

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t
Michael Pollan

Why is Processed Food so Bad?

Some experts will tell you that processed foods are not necessarily a bad thing, because processing removes bacteria and toxins and helps to preserve foods for a period of time.
However, processed foods are low in fiber, low in nutrients, contain unhealthy fats, high amounts of sodium and sugar, high-fructose sugars, refined oils, and trans fats. Each of these qualities poses significant risks to our health including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and cancer to name a few (MedlinePlus).

What Happens When We Eat Clean?

Clean eating is not just another diet plan, scheme or fad. It is a way of life that is gaining momentum with those who want to live a healthy lifestyle.

Several things start to happen to your body the moment you decide to eat clean. While the long-term effects can be life-changing, like weight loss, the reversal of heart disease or type 2 diabetes, there are changes that begin to occur in a matter of just two or three weeks.
Here are five almost instant benefits of eating clean:

Energy Boost

Surprisingly, one of the immediate changes after eating clean for a few days is the boost in your energy levels. Thanks to the combination of whole grains, protein, and healthy fats, your body reaps the benefits of an even distribution of energy that can last for hours at a time.

WebMD reports that your blood sugar becomes well-adjusted as a result of eating nutritious, timely meals. This helps to reduce the number of spikes to your blood sugar that you experience eating processed foods.

Better Moods

Clean eating is well-known for its ability to provide mental clarity and overall brain health in general. In addition to the fog lifting, you also start to experience a change in your mood. Thanks to omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, and improved regulation of brain chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, clean eating can help fend off feelings of depression and anxiety.

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Improved Sleep

According to Shape Magazine, another immediate benefit of clean eating is improved sleep. Thanks to chemicals like tryptophan that naturally occur in foods like almonds, your body experiences a natural boost in the hormone melatonin which helps you to get much-needed sleep.

Improve Your Workouts

If you are looking to improve your workouts, clean eating can blaze a trail to improving your endurance, recovery time and muscle building efforts, according to researchers.

Great Skin Health

You are what you eat –at least your skin thinks so. A diet that is rich in fruits and veggies contains just enough vitamins to improve the elasticity and vibrancy of your skin. Followers of clean eating report changes in their skin for the better in a matter of only six weeks.

 

Once you decide to adopt a clean eating lifestyle, remember to start small and aim big.  You are bound to see immediate changes in your mind, body, and spirit for the better.

As we’ve discussed, clean eating just means that whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, plant-based proteins, and whole grains become the staple of your diet. At the same time, you reduce your intake of large amounts of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, refined grains, additives, and preservatives.

However, making such a change can be challenging. When you first transition into clean eating, you will likely encounter a few bumps in the road. The good news is that clean eating doesn’t have to be a difficult task. After all, this way of life is all about eating the healthiest of food groups. With proper tips and a clean eating playbook in hand, you can successfully navigate the bumps to reach the other side.

Here are some tips on how you can start eating clean today.

Start with a Single Meal

Avoid making sweeping changes to your diet right away. Instead, make gradual changes to your eating habits by starting with a single meal. Consider that it may require a full year for you to make the transition.

Eat a Clean Breakfast

Start by eating a good breakfast every morning to give your metabolism the boost it needs.

According to Prevention Magazine, breakfast is an excellent choice for initiating your move to cleaner eating. Begin by removing processed meat like sausages and replacing it with two eggs or ditch those sweet cereals for whole-wheat toast and unsweetened almond butter.

Eating whole foods for breakfast will balance your blood-sugar levels and allow you to get through the day. By eating protein for breakfast, you’re more likely to make better eating choices because you will be satisfied and not craving sugar or carbs.

 

Plan Your Meals

Consistently planning your meals is the best first step you can take on your clean eating journey.

This plan becomes the basis for your shopping list and your menu for the week. It also helps you to stay on track. Use the plan to introduce new foods into your meals slowly and as a method to gradually remove the overly processed stuff.

Remember, try to avoid cutting everything out at once. Your body will not be able to adjust. Instead, plan each week out methodically. Keep a few of your favorites but make small changes.

Stay Organized

Make a schedule of what you’ll be doing every day of the week. For example, Monday is shopping and prep day. Tuesday can be your exercise day etc. Perhaps even buying some equipment, like a high speed blender, that will help make your life a little easier around the kitchen.

Cook Your Own Food

Cook your own meals as much as possible. The only way to know what’s in your food and about to go into your body is to prepare it yourself. This will enable you to feel confident in the fact that you’re keeping with your new standards for clean eating.

Research meals that fit the clean eating lifestyle. Sites like eatingwell.com and cleaneatmag.com are fantastic sources of information. YouTube university also offers a wealth of videos with clean eating recipes. I also post recipes every Sunday in my free Facebook Group – The Wellness Lounge for Women – you can join us HERE.

If planning to eat out with your friends, prepare for the experience in advance so that you can stay on track. Check out the restaurants menu online and decide what you will have before you even get there.

Keep Fresh Produce in Stock

One of the most significant components of clean eating is fruits and veggies. Make sure you stock up on your fresh fruits and vegetables every week. Fruits and vegetables will provide you with much-needed fiber which plays a critical role in reducing inflammation in the body, lowering cholesterol, and managing heart disease.

Eat Five to Six Meals Per Day

Eating clean may require you to eat frequent meals. This will help to ensure you are taking in adequate nutrients while keeping your belly satisfied. Also, it will ensure that you avoid regular, unhealthy snacking.

Give Yourself Permission

Permit yourself to eat a little treat from time to time without feeling guilty (Prevention Magazine). A taste of your most favorite processed snack from time to time will not sabotage your clean eating lifestyle.

If you deny yourself a few guilty pleasures all the time, it can set you up for failure down the road.

Remember to start small and aim big. Try clean eating for yourself and start making changes today. You are bound to see immediate changes in your mind, body, and spirit for the better.

Every step you take towards clean eating will bring you closer to a healthier way of living. Make your experience a positive one. Your body will thank you.

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