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So, you want to eat clean but have no idea where or how to start? It sure can be overwhelming. With the internet, social media, Pinterest, etc. there is so much information out there and you probably don’t know what information is “right.” I get it. I was there.
How to start eating clean
In 2009, I took the plunge and attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to study health, food, and nutrition as well as get my certificate to be a holistic health coach. Well, let’s just say, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so much. I cut through all the confusion and got some solid advice regarding how to better my own health, as well as help others, do the same.Below are my top 10 tips to transition to a healthier and happier life:1. Remember, there is no destination. Health and happiness is a journey. There is no magic end at the end of a tunnel where you say, “I made it. I am now healthy and happy.” Nope. The trick is enjoying the journey. Every day you learn something new. You realize that dairy might be not a great thing to eat when you have seasonal allergies. You learn that you better stretch before and after a long run. You learn how to use kettle balls for the first time. You try better tomorrow when you end up snacking late at night in front of the TV watching “The Bachelorette.”2. Build habits that benefit you. Set goals. Work hard. You find the time to do the things that are important to you. Plain and simple. There are 24 hours in a day. Sit down and look at how you spend those hours. If meal planning is important to you, carve out some time on Sundays to do it. If going to the gym every day for an hour is important to you, put that time on your calendar and do it. After a couple of days, weeks, months, these habits become the norm. Every day you get closer and closer to achieving your goals, you build strength. You build confidence. This is where the magic happens.3. Surround yourself with others who inspire you & others YOU can inspire. Find a workout buddy. Go grocery shopping with a girlfriend who loves kale chips and wants to show you how to make them. Support is crucial. Teach your kids and your hubby how to cook something new. Introduce them to a new healthy food each week. Get your kids in the kitchen with you. Talk to them about the importance of being healthy and happy. Remember, you are their greatest role model. Do it for you. Do it for them.4. Stop dieting. Start loving clean, real food. Fall in love with your kitchen.
This is so important. Learn to love cooking from home. Get a free app like Mealime or a similar one and select the plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan option. It takes the guessing work out of it.
5. Plan, plan and more planning. Schedule. Make your time count.
It all comes down to having a plan. When you plan your meals, you are going to stay away from fast food joints. When you work out, you will feel great, and won’t want to binge on junk food afterward. It is all a cycle. The more you plan your day the more likely you will stay on track toward your goals. It’s really that simple.
On Saturday evenings, I look at our family calendar for the week. I see which nights we will be home and which nights my husband is working late. I see when I will need quick foods that I can keep in my purse – yes, I am known to have an avocado in my purse at all times. That’s how I decide what I am cooking for the week. I have a few regular meals I use weekly and I try to add a few new ideas each week. I always make a big batch of healthy, flour free and protein packed pancakes like these ones that I can quickly pop in the toaster before school. I prep food at night when the kids are sleeping. It’s work but it’s worth it.
6. More protein. More real food. More water. More healthy fats. Explore fermented foods. Less packaged food. Less sugar.
There is no one perfect food that is going to make you healthy. Food companies are always trying to convince us that omega 3s and oatmeal and Stevia are going to save the day and make us healthy. It’s not that simple. The bottom line is eating real food from quality sources. It’s about quality and quantity. All these healthy foods work together. Find a local farm where you can get really high-quality animal protein. Embrace eggs over cereal for breakfast.
Try eating protein at every meal. Don’t be scared of egg yolks. Explore vegetarian sources of protein like beans, lentils, and quinoa. Try fermented foods. Yes, our guts need good bacteria and lots of it. Our culture is so deprived of these amazing, healthy foods.
Carry a water bottle everywhere you go – I love this one. Read ingredients instead of calories. The majority of your food should not be in packages. Add healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil. Learn to live on less sugar. Sugar and processed carbs are what is making us fat and unhealthy. Plain and simple.
7. Add instead of subtracting. “Crowd out” the food crap.
Instead of depriving yourself and taking out all the foods you love, start adding the good ones. Know you need to stop drinking Diet Coke? Start drinking a lot of water and your cravings for soda will start going away. Add a new healthy food every day. Add spinach or kale to your favorite casserole. Put loads of veggies in your eggs. Add ground flaxseed to muffins.
Over time, the healthy food choices will take the place of the unhealthy foods. After a few months of not drinking Diet Coke and you take a sip, it will taste terrible and fake. Believe me.
Invest in a bread maker, a slow-cooker, an awesome blender and high-quality pots and pans. Add low-glycemic foods to your diet and start to “crowd out” the high-glycemic foods. Avoid cheap oils. One goal on the health journey is lowering your body fat percentage. Dr. Mercola says, “cutting out these high-glycemic processed foods you can retrain your body to burn fat instead of sugar, a key component of health and weight loss.
However, it’s important to replace these foods with healthy fats, not protein—a fact that’s often not addressed. I believe most people may need between 50 and 70 percent of their daily calories in the form of healthful fats, so as you remove processed foods from your meals be sure you’re eating more of the following: olives and olive oil, coconuts and coconut oil, real butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, organic raw nuts, especially macadamia nuts, which are low in protein and omega-6 fat, organic pastured egg yolks and pastured meats, and avocados.”
8. Pay attention to how you feel, how foods and lifestyle affect you. Journal. You have to know your body. You are responsible for it, none else and guess what? You only get one. Think about that for a minute. You have to pay attention to how you feel physically and mentally after you eat certain foods. Journal. Take notes. Pay attention to what you put in your body. Eat a bagel for breakfast and feel like you can’t keep your eyes open at 11 am? Write that down.
Be an active participant in your life.
Adapt as you go.
Every day.9. Pay especially close attention to these foods and how they make you feel – wheat, dairy, caffeine, corn, sugar, peanuts, and soy.
These foods tend to cause problems for lots and lots of people. The majority of people in our country have food sensitivities to many foods on this list. Food sensitivities show up in crazy ways – mind fog, rashes, bloating, gas, confusion, forgetfulness, stomach aches, IBS, seasonal allergies… you name it.
9. Don’t overthink it. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy seeing yourself grow and learn.
Try not to stress out about it all too much. Think of it as a challenge that you WANT to take on. Bad stress wrecks havoc on our bodies and unfortunately, stores extra fat in our bellies when we worry! Find healthy outlets for stress management instead of food. Learn to love your bathtub and take a long soak before bed. Spend time outside every day. Save up and buy yourself a new pair of boots. Be proud of yourself when you learn, grow and try something new.
A few recipes to get you started…
Protein Balls (quick & easy)
Greek Yogurt Popsicles
SLOW-COOKER Fiesta Chicken & salsa meal (Becky’s favorite!)
Ps-Do you want to join my clean-eating, sugar detox, weight loss challenge? It’s free and I’ll show you exactly what we did (what we ate, etc…) I will send it to you via e-mail (along with these guides)…
Here’s a sneak peek:
and this one…. (don’t worry, I’ll send the full guide)