Read on to find out the 9 ways you can eat clean.
Pick Whole Foods
The basic idea of clean eating is to choose foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. So instead of boxed, bagged, or packaged foods, choose fresh, whole ones. Think whole chicken, or meat instead of frozen chicken or meatballs and choose raw grapes instead of gummy snacks made with fruit juice. When you avoid highly processed foods, like chips, cookies, and ready-to-eat meals, you skip their loads of calories, sugar, salt, and saturated fat.
Eat More Whole Grains
Refined carbohydrates, like white bread, pasta, and rice, lose nutrients during the manufacturing process. You can exchange them for whole wheat bread and pasta and brown rice. Or opt for other whole grains like oatmeal, popcorn, barley, or wheat. This change can have a big impact. Studies show that a diet high in whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer.
Load Up on Fruits and Veggies
These natural foods are two staple foods of clean eating. Some clean eaters say all your produce should be fresh. But others say that frozen and canned options are the next best thing, since they have just as many nutrients. Just read the label to make sure you are not getting extra sugar or salt. Also choose whole fruits instead of juices, which have less fiber and more sugar. Aim to get at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, depending on the calories you need and your level of physical activity.
Watch Out for Salt and Added Sugar
Clean foods are naturally low in salt and sugar, and adding those goes against the as-natural-as-possible approach. Since processed foods are a major source of them, you can completely reduce your intake when you avoid them. Otherwise, read food labels to look for added sweeteners and salt, even in foods that seem healthy, like yogurt or tomato sauce. Also keep tabs on how much you add to your foods and drinks. Try flavoring with spices and herbs instead.
Skip Artificial Ingredients
Artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and other manmade ingredients do not have a place in a clean-eating diet. At the grocery store, read food labels and avoid items with the fake ingredients in it.
Sip Plenty of Water
Instead of sugar-heavy soft drinks and juices, sip low-calorie beverages, such as water and herbal tea. Water can curb your hunger and help you feel full, but it can also take off the fatigue and give you more energy. If you are missing flavored drinks, you must try infusing your water with a slice of citrus or mint.
Rethink Alcohol and Caffeine
Some clean eaters cut them out entirely in favor of drinking plenty of water. Others say it is fine to have them in moderation. Clean eater or not, experts recommend no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine (about three to five 8-ounce cups of coffee) per day, and one serving of alcohol for women and two for men. Also skip the extra sugars: You must opt for plain tea or coffee, and avoid sweet mixers for alcohol.
Decide If You will Go Organic
Organic farmers use natural pesticides and avoid man-made ones, so some people say organic produce is the best way to eat clean. It is up to you to decide how important it is to your diet. You can also shop at your local farmers market to find out what kinds of pesticides the vendors use.
Be Smart About Meat and Dairy
Meat, dairy, and eggs you buy at the store may come from animals that get growth hormones and antibiotics. Clean eaters avoid them and choose organic or opt for local sources that raise animals in the natural way. A farmer’s market is a good place to learn more about where your meat and dairy come from. Seafood is not labeled as organic, so look for items low in mercury and that use sustainable fishing. The cleanest approach to protein, get most of it from nuts, beans, and legumes.