Exercise is only half the battle. As important as it is to get your body moving (for all kinds of reasons), your commitment to getting fit will fall flat without a diet to match. You’ve probably heard the term “eating clean” bandied around by health nuts on Instagram, but do you know what the buzzed-about phrase actually means?
The concept of clean eating is simple: the optimum diet consists of healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. Although the trendy name is new, the idea is anything but. The principles of clean eating have been touted by nutritionists, public health organisations, and scientists for decades. Those who follow them report weight loss, higher energy levels, improved cardiovascular health, better mental health, and a host of other benefits.
To start a clean eating regime, follow these 7 rules:
Eat Real Food
What is “real” food, you ask? If your meal came out of the ground or was raised on a farm, it’s real. Seek to eliminate, or at least minimise, processed foods. If it comes in a box, bag, can, or package, it probably doesn’t belong in your body.
Whenever possible, opt for organic food. It’s the cleanest thing you can put in your body – no pesticides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, steroids, etc. If budget limits your shopping list, make meat, eggs, dairy, and the Dirty Dozen your organic priorities.
Your beer-swilling, meat-loving uncle disdainfully calls it “rabbit food,” but eating more vegetables is an easy way to clean up your diet. They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. What they’re not rich in is calories, sugar, and toxins.
Aim For Simplicity
If there’s only one ingredient in your food, it’s clean. Think cauliflower, milk, quinoa, or chicken. If it has multiple ingredients, make sure you can pronounce them all. If you don’t understand what’s in your food in the first place, it’s probably not clean.
Nix The Sweet Stuff
No one wants to hear this part, but it’s an unavoidable truth: eating clean means avoiding sugar in most of its guises. Cutting out processed foods will go a long way to eliminating excessive sugar intake. If you want to sweeten and stay clean, try raw honey or pure maple syrup instead.
Put On Your Chef’s Hat
Most meals from restaurants and supermarkets are made with processed ingredients and are high in fat, salt, and sugar. Cooking at home guarantees that you know exactly what goes into your body, and it will impress your girlfriend.