I’m so excited to participate in the new Fit Tip Tuesday link-up! Thanks Lisa for hosting!
My tip for the day is figuring out what clean eating means to you.
I recently read an article in Health magazine simply titled, “What is clean eating?” So many people have declared that they have the secret to clean eating. I’ve heard it all:
- Clean eating means eating only raw foods
- Clean eating means eating only organic products
- Clean eating means eliminating all sugar, dairy, simple carbohydrates, coffee and alcohol from your diet
Here’s the problem with these “rules”: they’re all so different, they all claim to be the change that will make you fit, and they all are nearly impossible to follow.
In the Health article, registered dietitian Cynthia Sass discusses how diet trends have changed over the past few decades. Remember the 80s (neither do I, 90s baby whaddup) when everyone thought the trick was to eat no fat? People literally made themselves sick inhaling bags of fat-free potato chips, holding on to a tiny shred of glee that they had finally “figured it out.” Can you imagine a life without avocados, cashews, or mozzarella? That doesn’t sound like a world I want to live in.
Needless to say, I’ve jumped on Cynthia’s bandwagon and think her tips are worth a read.
First up? Eat whole foods
When you’re scrambling for breakfast, instead of eating a banana nut muffin, eat a banana and some nuts.
There are always going to be times when all I want is a banana nut muffin, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get one in my belly ASAP. But for the most part, our bodies are happy when we feed it things that it can recognize. When you eat foods that only have one ingredient you can sleep easily knowing that you gave your body a food from the earth that hasn’t been stripped of its nutrients or modified to taste more addicting.
Secondly: Let the ingredients guide you
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you want to be healthy, you have to read the ingredients. If you’re following step one, there isn’t even an ingredient list to read. But if you are cracking open a bag of your favorite snack, flip it over and give the ingredients list a check. No one should say “crackers are bad”. It’s all about what your crackers are made of. For example, you can turn over a Wasa cracker label and see that is has less than 5 ingredients, all pronounceable. So how does it make sense to say “No crackers!” and make a blanket statement that is taking away a product that can be a beautiful vehicle for other healthy foods such as cheese, avocado, peanut butter, hummus, etc.
I’ve found that most blanket statements about food groups can be discredited with a simple look at an ingredient list. So many companies are creating products that are made with fewer ingredients because there is a market for it, so always keep an eye out for them.
Think Big Picture
Don’t just think about the way a food tastes. Think about what it’s really doing to your body. While there is a huge debate about GMOs, high fructose corn syrup and growth hormones, my simple thought is this: even if it’s not going to kill me, why would I want to put something like that into my body? If I can avoid it, shouldn’t I? Don’t get me wrong, I eat foods containing GMOs and HFCS without even knowing it (and sometimes knowing it). But when I’m grocery shopping, these are things I try to avoid.
There are always going to be things you can’t replace. When I want Cheetos, I want Cheetos. However, most of the time there are little homemade tricks to satisfy your cravings. For example, when I want spinach dip I make my own and replace half the sour cream with Greek yogurt. That way, I’m not only cutting back on fat but also upping the protein so I’m satisfied with a smaller amount. All it takes is a little imagination and time set aside to discover that you can make healthy, whole foods taste comparable to many of the processed foods that you crave from time to time.
Listen to your Body
This is a huge one. There is no rule book for what your body wants to eat. Gluten isn’t bad for everyone, and neither is dairy or nuts. While some people might have sensitivities or allergies to these products, that doesn’t mean that everyone else should rule them out. We’re all different.
With that being said, don’t wait for a diagnosis to change the way you eat. If you eat a whole wheat sandwich for lunch and suddenly feel bloated, you may have to watch how much gluten you consume. That doesn’t mean swear off all bread and pasta, but maybe have half a sandwich instead and see how you feel. When I was in high school I used to bake multiple times a week, often sampling tons of dough and not holding back once they were done. Now, if I try to eat that much sugar, I wake up the next morning with a pit in my stomach that’s hard to shake for the rest of the day. There’s no diagnosis necessary, I’ve just realized that I can’t eat sugar in the same amounts that I used to. I became friends with my body, listened to what it said, and made a small change.
In my opinion, the biggest tip is to listen to your body. If you pay attention to it, you’ll know exactly what to eat, when to eat it, when to stop, and when to splurge. Isn’t that what healthy living is all about?
- What does clean eating mean to you?