Friday, May 10, 2013

Clean Eating 101


 Clean Eating 101:

 I’ve been talking a lot about “clean eating” and I haven’t actually clarified what clean eating is.
Clean eating is simple! Eating foods as close to their natural being as possible.

Foods that are highly processed or contain highly processed ingredients are not considered “clean” foods.

There aren’t any fitness goals you can achieve without eating clean. You can workout, drenched in sweat from the time the rooster crows until the cows come home. If you hit the drive-thru afterwards, you’re ruining all that hard work.

Have you ever heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”? We’ll it’s true. We all have abs, no really, they’re under there! You can develop the muscles through resistance training but there is not amount of crunches that you can do that will carve away stubborn belly fat. It’s simple, you’re not going to see them if you don’t have healthy eating habits.

In order to lose fat (on your abdominal or anywhere else) and lower your body fat percentage, you MUST pitch the processes, packaged, sodium filled, sugar packed junk!

You are what you eat, if you eat garbage, you’re going to feel and look like garbage, it’s just the truth. Your body, skin, energy level, mood, overall health and more are greatly affected by what you simply put in your mouth.

Clean eating is in no way a “diet”, it does not mean you have to cut calories, if weight loss is not your goal, you don’t have to lose weight by eating clean, in fact, if weight gain is your goal, clean eating is the healthiest way to accomplish it.

Let’s get started:

The following list of foods are typically not considered “clean” and you should really just throw it all out.
Cookies, chips, cracker, candy, white breads and pastas,  marinades, sauces and dressings such as ketchup, mayo, ranch, etc, pastries, fruit juice, sports drinks, soda (yes even diet!),  ice cream, pudding, jell-o, flavored yogurt (yep, even greek), sugary cereal, granola bars, fast food, fried foods, frozen dinners, deli meat, processed meat, and most packaged / canned foods.

Okay now, if you’re serious about getting healthy,… get up, walk into the kitchen (I’ll wait right here), get your trash can or donation bag out, open your fridge, freezer and pantry and start tossing.

    Now let’s discuss Clean Eating: 

Learn to read labels!
-          Eat Lots Of Plants – Eat foods that are straight from nature. The idea is to stay away from “humanly altered” foods, as much as possible. Eat foods from trees, bushes, plants, and vines and you’ve pretty much covered it.
-          Include Lean Meats – Lean meats and healthy meats are key…  Boneless/skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, canned tuna (in water), tilapia, salmon.  A healthy option for buying meats would be buying them from an organic grocery store, so at least you know that the animals were raised organically and the contents of what you’re buying are organic. If you buy non-organic meats, at least be mindful of what meats you’re buying.
-          Proteins From Other Sources - Protein powder, eggs, plain cottage cheese, plain yogurt, peanut / almond butter, nuts
-          Complex / Starchy Carbohydrates – Old-fashioned raw oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, whole wheat breads (Ezekiel bread is a great option) brown rice. Stay away from Simple Carbohydrates. Once consumed, simple carbs are broken down into sugar and stored as fat.
-          Healthy Fats – Peanut butter and almond butter (ingredient label should read “peanuts” or “almonds”, that’s it. There should be oil visible on top.), olive oil, coconut oil, almonds, walnuts, pistachio, avocado, flax oil
-          Fewer Ingredients – Try to buy foods that have 3 – 6 ingredients in the ingredient list. You should have an understanding of what each ingredient is. The goal is to buy foods that don’t include “mystery” ingredients. Have you ever tried to pronounce some of that junk? A good rule would be “if you can pronounce it, you should eat it”.
-          Eat Often – You should be eating 6 small meals a day. This may seem like a lot but eating all day rather than a couple times a day, you’re body will always be working to break down the food, which means your metabolism is always working. If this is too much food for you to eat, make your lunch and dinner portions smaller.
-          Buy It Plain And flavor It Yourself – Buy foods that aren’t packed full of sugar and salt. Season it to your liking when you’re preparing it to eat. For example, plain oats, you can add stevia and cinnamon to give it flavor. The idea is to know exactly what you’re eating and how it’s prepared.
-          Water water water – This is simple. Drink water. No calories, no sugar, no sodium, no carbs, no fat, helps brain function, regulates body temperature, detoxifies your body, helps with your metabolism, helps you lose weight, among many more great benefits!

Starting the process of Clean Eating may seem overwhelming, especially if there are a lot of habits you need to change to get there. Start with baby steps if you need to. If you have to crawl before you can run then do it, at least you’re moving!
Options for your “First Step”. Make one little change each day – Change one meal, cut out an unhealthy food (such as soda or chips), reduce your portion size and add one healthy snack, etc.

If the thought of clean foods sound gross to you and you claim that you don’t like the taste of vegetables or foods that aren’t heavily seasoned, trust me, over time, your taste buds will adjust and you will eventually be sensitive to the strong sweet and saltiness of processed foods.
I use to salt EVERYTHING! I was so bummed eating plain unsalted vegetables. After eating clean for 30 days, I had a cheat meal and salted it,… it was terrible and completely ruined my cheat meal. You’ll adjust, it might just take some time… hang in there! 

Clean eating doesn’t have to mean boring eating. Recipe possibilities are endless… search “healthy recipes”, “clean recipes”, “healthy substitutes”, "healthy ingredient alternatives”, etc. Clean eating can taste great!

Misconceptions: Don’t be fooled!

-          “Diet”  – Nothing about a diet drink is “diet” and it isn't always a “better” option. Yes you might not be consuming the calories or sugar of a non-diet drink but it is still packed full of very unhealthy sugar substitutes and GMIs (genetically mortified ingredients) - yuck!
-          “Low-fat” / “Fat-free” / “Light” / “Reduced-Fat” Fat free also means “taste free” and in order to make up for the lack of taste, food manufacturers tent to pour other ingredients such as sugar, flour, thickeners and salt. So, these "fat-free" / "reduced fat" claims are also knows as, "chemical packed crap".  We're all use to seeing trans fats and saturated fats on the labels, stay away from anything with trans fats! Even 2 grams of trans fats a WEEK has shown signs of health risks, such as heart disease. Even a little is actually a lot! Focus on good fat (such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats), not fat-free. 
-          Granola bars – I know, shocking! These seemingly healthy snacks are loaded with salt and sugar. A better alternative would be making your own or at least compare and make sure you’re buying a truly healthy granola bar.
-          Sports drinks – Another shocker huh? Again, sugar is the problem. Sports drinks are full of sugar and unnecessary calories. Does it make sense to sweat and work your butt off while staring at the calorie burner on your treadmill while... drinking calories and sugar…? Drink water, it’s sugar fee, calorie free and helps your body burn fat! Now that makes sense! Try not to drink your calories”.
-          “Natural” / “Healthy” – The terms “natural” and “healthy” is so loosely defined by the government that if you researched the product, claiming to be “natural” or “healthy”, you would actually find very little difference to the regular version. It would be much better to completely ignore any printing on the label, claiming to be natural or healthy. Just read labels and compare. 
-          “Whole wheat" / "Whole grain” – I don’t know how many breads I’ve picked up at the store that say they’re whole grain and after taking a look at the ingredient list, I see that white flour is the second ingredient after whole wheat flour. Again, read the label and compare.

**I'm not saying that all whole wheat/whole grain, "natural", "healthy", low or no fat foods are bad for you or that you shouldn't buy them. I'm saying that just because it claims to be something on the packaging advertisement, doesn't mean it's a healthier option. This is why it's important to read food labels.**

Aim to make conscious healthier choices, in time they will become unconscious healthy habits