Take a good, long look at that fast-food cheeseburger. Every item on it, from the bun to the sauce, was processed in a factory and created in a laboratory. It’s packed with enough artificial colors and preservatives to make it look as pretty as a picture.
But does it qualify as “eating clean?” Yeah, right. So what is clean eating? It doesn’t refer to washing the nectarine you bought on clearance at the fruit stand — though you should do that, too. It is taking the time to know what your food is made of, and choosing to eat it in its most natural state. Clean eating is about more than just getting lean; it’s making choices that promote optimum long-term health for your body.
Getting clean might just mean tweaking what you’re doing now, or it might require you to turn over a whole new leaf. In either case, here are 10 solid rules to keep in mind while you consider the change.
1 / Approach Your Meals As A Lifestyle
Want to get serious? Then forget the D-word entirely. Clean eating is not a fat-loss diet. This is a lifestyle that you’re going to sustain from this day forward.
You don’t need to get obsessive or throw out everything you love. You’re allowed to enjoy your food — you’ll need to, if you want to be able to stick with this. So consider yourself warned: You might have to take this as your push to finally learn how to cook for yourself.
What’s the other choice — leaving it up to the world to feed you? Forget it. Take control of your life, because once you fall off your clean-eating plan, you’ll revert back to feeling low in energy, hungry, and irritable multiple times every day.
2 / Load Up On Fresh Produce
No matter if you’re a carb-cutter, carb-loader, Paleo warrior, or intermittent faster, the golden rule of clean eating should be to include as much fresh produce in your daily diet as possible.
Vegetables make every dietary system better and healthier. They provide the vitamins and nutrients to keep you feeling as good as you look, and the soluble fiber to make sure you suck every last bit of nutrition out of everything else you eat.
Think you can get all that from a simple greens supplement? You can try, but more than likely, you’ll find yourself using this expensive supplement as an excuse to cheat when you get hungry later on. So get familiar with the best-tasting in-season fruits and vegetables (and the frozen ones in a pinch), and become a master of seasons and spices. Read recipes as though they’re great literature and you’re on your way.
3 / Shop The Perimeter Of The Grocery Store
Every store is different, but as a general rule, the periphery is the natural habitat of the fresh vegetable, meat market, whole-grain baked goods, and the nuts and dried fruits bulk bin. Get comfortable here; it is now your territory.
You’ll probably have to venture into the interior for some staples like olive oil, but keep your blinders on. You’re entering a museum of extravagant packaging and manipulative slogans. Few of the items you see in the store’s interior promote good health; it’s a stretch to call most of it “food.”
The perimeter is also usually the home of the dairy case and the beer and wine display, so stay strong. Of course, if these are your biggest offenses, you could do a lot worse…
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