Within the past couple weeks, I have had a handful of people ask me how to start to eat a little cleaner. A few thoughts.
First of all, one needs to define clean eating. I think every person has a different definition. To me, clean eating, is simply just eating real food (also known as JERF). If it comes commercially packaged, probably not a good idea. If it has its own commercial, not so much. If it has ingredients that you can’t pronounce, put it away. It’s all about just eating real food. Fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably organic and locally grown), fresh meat (preferably grass-fed and local), natural sugars (like honey, real maple syrup..), non/minimally-processed oils (olive oil, coconut oil), nuts, seeds, and eggs. These items are really the bulk of clean eating. If you read through these items again, think about how many ingredients each one contains. An apple’s ingredients: apple. A delicious cut of steak: beef. An egg’s ingredients: egg. 1 ingredient (and a plethora of vitamins and minerals). Eating as simply as you can. That’s what clean eating looks like in my head.
Many of my friends include brown rice, quinoa, and a few other items in their clean eating diet. Take that idea a step further, and you have your Paleo. Paleo is saying NO to dairy, grain and gluten (soy, wheat, corn, rice, etc), processed sugars (white, brown, powdered, etc), and legumes (peanuts, green beans, peas, etc) AND saying YES to the things I mentioned earlier: fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, nuts/seeds, natural oils, and natural sugars (sparingly).
As I have mentioned in other blog posts, Paleo is what you make of it. It’s designed to make you feel better. The way that you eat is directly proportional to the way that you feel. I believe that whole heartedly. There are so many disease processes and symptoms that can be exacerbated by your food choices. With Paleo, you take a handful of food items that have tendency to make symptoms worse and simply remove them from your diet. Dairy, grain, sugar, and legumes…gone. Magically, many stomach and GI issues clear up. Autoimmune symptoms, gone. People start to feel better.
My Paleo is just that. I eat fairly strict Paleo and daily reap the rewards. I have noticed a few things. First of all, grain makes my guts hurt. Bloaty, gassy, crampy, heartburny, hiccupy…all when I eat grain. Dairy, really it has a lot of fat in it. When I completely cut out dairy, I have found that I tone up a bit. Bonus. Through sticking to my Paleo eating, I have lost close to 15 pounds, I have toned up, I sleep better, I have more energy, my face is clearer, and as I talked about before, I just feel better. On a happy sidenote, I actually noticed mini-abs the other day. Dudes, I have never had a hint of abs in my entire life.
Now, with that being said, not everyone is ready for Paleo. It’s tricky at first, a bit of a commitment, and takes a little time. Starting out, it’s hard to switch from cheap, fast, and easy food choices to a little more expensive, a little more time-consuming, but high-quality food choices. We are such a go go go go go go go society, and convenience foods have become the norm. Time to get away from that. If you feel that Paleo is not for you, then I suggest switching to clean eating. Truly, clean eating IS for everyone.
So, how does one begin to eat cleaner?
1. Watch your carbs. As I mentioned earlier, if it comes in a package, has a commercial, or contains ingredients that you can’t pronounce, then you probably shouldn’t eat it. Simple carbs….get rid of them. All of them. They do not help, they only hinder.
2. Eat more veggies. Fill up on the good stuff. A. They’re good for you. B. It’s what your body craves. C. We are ok with getting enough fruit, but we don’t eat nearly enough vegetables. Time to get on it.
3. Watch your sugar. Sugar is crazy sneaky. It’s everywhere. Check your labels. Always. Pasta sauce, for instance, a lot of times has cane juice or high fructose sugar…I avoid it.
4. Drink more water. A. it’s good for you. B. it’ll help to fill you up. Oftentimes, our bodies think that we are hungry when really, we’re just thirsty. C. Again, something that typically people don’t get enough of. Put that soda pop and sugary juice away. Try making water your go-to beverage. Dehydration is no bueno.
Just eat real food. While you may not be sold on this Paleo thing, it’s hard to refute clean eating. Honestly, with a little eat this/not that tweaking of your food choices, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.
“Most people have no idea how good their body was designed to feel.”