Do you sometimes feel like a yo-yo dieter, going up and down with healthy eating? You know that you should maintain a healthy diet as often as possible, but there are just too many “tasty and delicious foods” tempting you to make some bad decisions. Fun and tasty….but bad!
Even though you manage a few good days or weeks eating plenty of whole foods and fresh veggies, you end up falling off the wagon and indulge in cravings before sorting yourself out and getting back on track.
Many of us have committed to the goal of clean eating because we know it is the best decision for our health. It’s good for us at any age, and particularly as we go through midlife. The combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise is essential to our health and well being.
CLEAN EATING: avoiding packaged and processed foods and eating food as close to its natural state as possible.
Read on to find some helpful do’s and don’ts of clean eating , so you can end the yo-yo dieting and stay on the healthy bandwagon.
Do’s and Don’ts of Clean Eating
Do Limit Sugar
One of the most important aspects of clean eating is limiting sugar, or cutting out sugar entirely. Ideally, you need to cut out as much of the sweet stuff as you can from your diet.
This is something that a lot of people struggle with (my little paw is raised high) as the sugar cravings can be very strong for the first few days. However, as long as you can remain focused and stay away from the sugar, these cravings should subside after a week or so.
I’ve been working to cut most sugar from my diet on a day to day basis. In all honesty I cheat a little bit, but try keep my sugar intake as low as possible. It requires the ability to have a little bit and walk away. Not easy, but that is my approach.
It’s really important to check all of the labels on anything that you buy at the grocery store to make sure they aren’t full of any hidden sugars that you might not be aware of.
Don’t Eat Large Portions
Sometimes we think we can eat large portions of healthy foods. After all, there aren’t that many calories in them (we think…), and they are filled with lots of important healthy nutrients, right?
Well, that’s true, but it isn’t an excuse to start indulging in bigger portion sizes. When you double up your portion sizes, you are also doubling up your calorie intake, which could lead to eating a lot more calories than what you anticipate, or need. Portion control matters.
Do Consider Grazing
One way to control portions is to try grazing. Grazers swap breakfast, lunch, and dinner for six balanced snacks throughout the day.
Eating your daily intake of food in this way can:
- help keep blood sugar levels stable
- maintain steady energy levels and a balanced appetite throughout the day
- help us to be better able to maintain or lose weight
There are definitely some benefits to grazing instead of the traditional three meals per day, so give this some consideration and see if it can work in your lifestyle. You might also consider some paleo food ideas for grazing, as their high protein content will help keep you fuller longer.
Do Opt For Veggie Days
Vegetables are some of the healthiest foods that are available to us. They are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and healthy nutrients, all of which our bodies need to stay fit and healthy.
So, go ahead and load your plate with plenty of veggies at every meal. Generally speaking, you should be filling half of your plate with vegetables.
One way to make it even easier to eat enough fresh vegetables through the week is to opt for some veggie days in which you consume no meat at all. There are so many delicious vegetarian recipes out there, you might be surprised that you don’t miss the meat/chicken/fish on that day.
Take a peek at the recipes shown right here for some yummy examples. And, keep in mind the delicious vegetarian recipes available.
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Don’t Forget To Drink Water
Of course, following a clean, healthy diet isn’t just about what you eat. Keeping an eye on the things you drink is also really important, as it can significantly affect our overall calorie and sugar intake.
For instance, if you are drinking a lot of carbonated sugary soft drinks, you will probably be consuming more than your daily recommended sugar intake. That would eventually lead to weight gain if you continue to drink regular soft drinks.
It is best to stick with water, as this doesn’t contain any sugar or calories. Water is essential to good health. Our bodies lose water naturally throughout the day, and if we don’t replenish that loss we’ll become dehydrated.
How much water should we be drinking? Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember.
Of course, many of us also enjoy our coffee, tea or herbal tea, too.
Do Go For Complex Carbohydrates
Generally speaking, when you are following a clean-eating diet plan, it’s best to restrict your intake of processed carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta.
If you do need to eat some carbs, make sure you are always choosing complex carbohydrates as they are broken down a lot more efficiently by the body and will keep you fuller for much longer. Grains, such as quinoa and bulgur wheat, are great choices, as are whole grain breads and pasta.
Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol
This may sound obvious, but there are still folks out there who are trying to eat healthier and continue to consume alcohol on a regular basis, sometimes quite a bit.
There is a huge amount of sugars and calories in all kinds of alcohol, even the drinks that claim to be low in sugar. In addition, you are more likely to snack and make some bad food choices when you’ve got a drink in your hand. Just sayin’.
For me, a glass of chardonnay in the evening is something I really enjoy, so I include that in my overall calorie/carb/sugar intake for the day. A typical 5 oz. serving has 123 calories, 3.2 grams of carbs, and 1.4 grams of sugar. Not bad, but I have to be aware of how much wine I put into that glass. 🙂
It’s best to cut back on your drinking if you really want to see some healthy changes to your weight.
Don’t Forget About Breakfast
Whatever you do, please don’t skip a healthy breakfast. You might think that skipping breakfast is a great way to cut out some calories. However, this is a very important meal (possibly the most important of the day) and eating a healthy breakfast benefits you, your body and your mind in a number of ways:
- encourages healthy eating by helping you reach your daily goal of fruit and veggie consumption
- morning eating helps your body break down glucose (blood sugar)
- helps to kick-start your metabolism
- promotes heart health – non breakfast eaters tend to gain extra weight which can contribute to heart disease
So plan ahead for your first meal of the day. Make sure you have the proper foods on hand, get up a few minutes earlier and set aside time for breakfast!
Do Stop Eating Diet Foods
In the grocery store, you might see foods that are labeled as ‘diet foods’ in some way. Even though you might be tempted by these, they aren’t always as healthy as they seem.
They might not have high levels of calories or sugars in them, but could be full of preservatives and other suspicious chemicals that are used to make the food taste as good as the non-diet versions. Um…yuck.
I’ve been paying more attention to the labels and ingredients of the foods I buy, and it is quite educational to say the least. It has changed the way I look at the food I consume.
I hope these do’s and don’ts of clean eating tips have been helpful and can motivate you to keep on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon. It can change your life, in a good way, by literally adding years onto your life. Happy clean eating!