It can just be just so confusing! The US food industry has executives and marketing teams that are paid good money to fool you into believing the packaged food you are buying is actually good for you (so you buy more and their company thrives)! How often do you read the ingredients labels on most of these packaged goods?
But here’s the scoop:
Really eating CLEAN is not about packaged or altered foods. It’s about consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible (and that goes for animal products too). Clean eating isn’t a diet, and it’s not about deprivation. It really is just a lifestyle; a new way of approaching food that can really change your life. It’s not only about how you look on the outside. It’s about the important things we take for granted: how you look on the inside. How are your cells and organs and blood functioning? How is your blood pressure? How much energy do you have? How vibrant is your skin and hair? Do your eyes glow? Clean eating is about living long and strong, with the energy and vitality you need to do the things you love to do!
Here are some of the rules to keep in mind:
1) Get GREAT at reading labels: If it has more than 5 ingredients, think twice. If there is something you can’t pronounce on the label, chances are you’ll want to beware.
2) Begin to love water to quench your thirst: Drink at least 64oz per day. When I first lived in Italy when I was 19, I had lived a childhood of diet soda. But in L’Aquila, Italy – there was very little of this to be found. Everyone drank water. It took a while, but I soon because a water drinker, and rarely ever drank soda again. Today, it’s filtered water and green tea – and that’s it. By the way, if you do not have a built in water filtration system in your home, go buy an inexpensive Brita pitcher from Target. You want to avoid tap water and drink filtered water as much as possible.
3) Understand who the bad guys are: While reading labels, avoid things with high amounts of sugar, trans-fats, saturated fats, fried foods; or refined foods like white flour, bread and pasta (try brown rice or quinoa-based pasta, or whole grain bread without the gluten)
4) Avoid animal-based dairy products: Often filled with hormones and lactose, instead try Almond Milk or Coconut Milk. By the way, I recommend Whole Foods 365 Brand Unsweetened Almond Milk. It tastes pretty much like regular milk, has no carrageenan (cancer questions), and non of the lactose side effects.
5) Choose organic and humanely raised as often as possible – that goes for lean chicken, salmon, eggs and produce (during the 30-Day Challenge, we recommend eliminating or reducing red meats). A tip: for produce, if the sticker number starts with a 9, you’re fine – means it’s organic. Always ask for organically raised chicken, and wild (not farmed – which often has dyes) fish (salmon is a great choice). If there are budget concerns, make meat, eggs, dairy and the Dirty Dozen (see below) your organic priorities.
6) Experiment! Try new fruits and veggies all the time! You may find you really enjoy some things that nature has to offer! See how colorful you can make your diet. The more color, the more nutrients you are feeding to your body!
7) Eat regularly When you wake up, drink a glass of water with lemon immediately to get your system going. The eat 5 meals per day – don’t skip! Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and 2 snacks. Careful with portions, but do eat. This helps keep your metabolism up.
8) Enjoy Healthy Fats! Do not be afraid to eat fat – everyday! Just know the right ones. These strongly help brain, cellular, blood and hormonal function, as well as are fabulous for great skin and hair! Choose organic avocado, walnuts, raw almonds (no salt), olive oil, coconut oil, pumpkin seeds as examples.
9) For those participating in the 30-Day Clean Eating Challenge, avoid caffeine/coffee and Gluten-based products for the 30 day timeframe.
10) Plan ahead. If you’re on the go – traveling, driving long distances – plan ahead. Take a cooler and stock it with filtered water, cold-pressed, organic juices, a bag of raw walnuts and almonds, a great salad you made with kale, quinoa, tomato, cucumbers and avocado (just as an example). There is never a reason that traveling should become an excuse.
In the beginning, it will take some adjustment. Reading labels, finding new choices that are appealing, discovering new recipes that you like, really thinking about what you put in your body… it is definitely a shift. But as with everything in life, practice makes perfect. And you’ll be surprised how quickly you will begin to feel terrific! I bet your skin will be glowing and you’ll be bursting with energy in no time!
More than a Dirty Dozen Clean Fourteen Fruits and Veggies: If budget is a concern, here’s a guideline to help prioritize which ones to always buy organic