We love a good cheat meal just like everyone else, but sometimes, if it’s fast food or full of processed ingredients, it can leave you feeling sluggish. What you eat has a dramatic effect on how you feel. Your diet determines how much energy you have throughout the day and whether you’ll be in a good mood. Processed foods are delicious and ultra-convenient, but we know we feel better when we avoid them.

 

“Clean eating” means only consuming foods that are as close to their original form as possible: foods that are fresh and unprocessed. It means replacing processed and junk foods with fresh, simply prepared meals and snacks.

 

 

Why should you eat clean?

 

  • More energy! Processed foods turn to sugar in your digestive system, so your blood sugar can drop suddenly, leading to an energy crash. Eating whole foods keeps your blood sugar stable and your energy high! Bonus: You won’t need as much caffeine to get you through the day.

  • Better mood. Your body functions best when it is getting clean, fresh food—and brain health starts in your gut. Eating whole foods promotes a healthy gut, and as a result your feel-good receptors in your brain will reap the benefits.

  • Increased immunity. Processed foods often contain refined sugar. Sugar can cause inflammation, which hinders the immune system from doing its job of fighting off viruses. Eating clean cuts out refined sugar. Whole fruits increase immunity with substantial amounts of antioxidants.

  • Fewer cravings. Once you start eating more vitamin- and mineral-rich foods like veggies and fruit and reducing refined carbs and sugar, your body won’t crave them as often because your body is getting what it needs.

  • Weight loss. Something amazing happens when you focus on loading your plate with veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats. Your hunger hormones get switched off. That means you won’t be searching the pantry or fridge an hour after lunch and consuming more calories than you need. 

 

 

5 tips to help you eat clean:

 

  • Shop the perimeter of the store. Start at the produce section and load your cart with your favorite veggies and fruits. Look for veggies that are already cut to make it easy when you get home! Think about veggies you can roast, cut up for snacks, or use in meals like stir-fries and salads.

  • Avoid buying foods in a box (or other packaging). Remember, you want to try eating foods as close to their original form as possible! If you do buy a packaged food, a good rule of thumb is to read the nutrition label. Make sure you can pronounce all of the ingredients.

  • Prep your veggies and fruit when you come home from the store. Slice up zucchini and store in Ziplock bags for easy access later.

  • Invest in (or dig out) an air fryer or crockpot. These are both great ways to make homemade meals easily (and have leftovers). Try using the air fryer for roasting sliced or chopped veggies. Make an easy roasted chicken or homemade chili in your crockpot. Leftovers are great for lunches the next day!

  • Have healthy snacks ready to go: raw or roasted nuts, sliced apples, berries, carrots, celery and radishes cut up and ready to eat.

 

 

The more prepared you are, the more likely you will be to stick to your plan! It takes effort to eat clean, but the benefits to your health are well worth it.

 

 

Clean eating swaps:

 

  • Craving chips? If you’re craving crunchy, slice jicama or carrots and serve raw with hummus or salsa.

  • Need a pre-workout snack? Instead of grabbing a protein or fruit bar, try slicing an apple and eating with a tablespoon of nut butter and 2 dates. This will give you a little protein, some fat and clean carbs from the apple, plus natural sugars from the date. This snack is still only 200-250 calories.

  • Ice cream craving? Take frozen sliced bananas, ½ cup of frozen berries, PB2 or nut butter and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Place in a food processor or blender. Add stevia or a few dates to sweeten. Click here for more “Nice Cream” recipes.

  • French Fries calling your name? Slice a sweet potato or carrots and place them on a baking sheet. Spray or drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Broil in oven until tops turn brown.

  • Think cereal is the best option for a fast breakfast? Cereal is a refined carb and turns right into sugar, which can leave you tired and hungry shortly after breakfast. Try overnight oats. It will be ready to go in the morning and you can add nuts and berries. The fiber and fat will keep you full and focused until lunch!

 

True change happens little by little, one choice at a time. Choose one processed food you would like to replace and start there. One good choice will lead to another!