Back in the day, clean eating was just called healthy eating. New lingo or not, healthy eating is always a good thing. Let’s find out how these 5 clean eating tips can help you lose weight.
No doubt if you read anything about meals, meal planning, or healthy eating, you’ve come across the term “clean eating.”
Will it help you lose weight, or keep it off?
In general, clean eating means focusing on whole, unprocessed foods for the bulk of your diet.
Things we all know, like eating lots of vegetables and fruits, lean protein, healthy fats.
Limiting your intake of packaged foods, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars.
In other words, eating mostly healthy foods. I’m not so sure there’s much new about that. Can we just call it healthy eating?
Let’s explore 5 ways that clean–or healthy–eating can help you lose weight.
Limit Added Sugars
I like sugar as much as the next gal. Meaning, I like sweets! That’s totally normal. Unfortunately, added sugar seems to be in everything including ketchup, pasta sauce, and instant oatmeal.
The problem is, humans did not evolve to consume as much sugar as the average person gets. According to Healthline, via the American Heart Association, women should get no more than 100 calories, or 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
That is a surprisingly small amount.
Best ways to avoid added sugars? Don’t drink sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juice. Limit candies, cookies, and other sweets, as well as fruits canned in heavy syrup.
Instead, eat fresh fruit for dessert. The sugar in fruits is natural, and whole fruits also include other vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Check labels of packaged and jarred sauces carefully for added sugar. Be on the lookout for added sugar disguised as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, glucose, dextrose, syrup, cane sugar, raw sugar and more.
This is a good reason to prepare your meals and snacks at home as much as possible, because you can control the ingredients.
If you don’t cook much now, ease into it slowly and build up over time. Which leads smoothly into the next way clean eating can help you lose weight.
Prepare More Meals At Home
The best way to control what’s in your food is to make it yourself. And if you already eat a lot at home, do a survey of your most frequent meals to see if there are more healthy substitutes for some ingredients.
For example, if you regularly eat frozen pizza or Hamburger Helper type concoctions, try making more meals from scratch. Start slow and build up your repertoire.
There are countless web sites you can peruse for ideas and recipes. A few of my favorites are:
- Damn Delicious, especially her healthy recipes.
- Jar Of Lemons, for quick and easy healthy recipes.
- Well Plated, for lots of yummy, beautifully presented healthy recipes.
There are so many more. Just Google “quick, healthy recipes,” or even put the cuisine you’re looking for in there: “quick, healthy Italian recipes,” or pasta, Mexican, Indian, etc.
If you have been relying heavily on eating out, perhaps you can ease into some meal planning and preparation to get you eating more at home. Read more about meal planning here.
Eat More Veggies
What article about eating healthy food would not mention the vegetables? If veggies are the bane of your eating existence (like me), this can be more of a challenge than you might think.
With recommended servings being anywhere from 5 to 10 servings a day, that can be a lot for the vegetable-challenged.
I’ve had a difficult relationship with vegetables for nearly all of my life. Even though I grew up in sunny southern California, virtually the only vegetables I ate regularly growing up were:
- iceberg lettuce
- canned beets
- canned corn
- frozen green beans
It’s pretty sad. I was always sure I didn’t like vegetables. Never had a broccoli spear until I was an adult. I still don’t like broccoli, or most other cruciferous vegetables, for that matter.
But not liking vegetables is no longer an excuse for not finding ways to fit them into my eating plan.
For instance, I add a bunch of frozen spinach or kale to my morning smoothie.
I make sure the smoothie has dark berries in it because it masks the color.
Something about the color of green smoothies doesn’t invite me to drink them.
There are so many ways you can include (or sneak!) vegetables into other foods without much, if any, noticeable taste difference.
Check out my free guide on other clever ways to include vegetables in many of the common foods you eat. Some may surprise you!
Watch Your Portions
Surely you’ve heard or read that food portions in the United States have ballooned astronomically in the past few decades.
It’s hard to stress how important portion sizes are to losing weight and staying healthy. Even if you ate nothing but crap, if you limited the portions you would likely not end up obese.
You might not be very healthy, but at least you wouldn’t have obesity added to your woes.
What was once served in restaurants as a meal would likely be considered a snack in some circles today.
I still remember going to McDonald’s as a youngster and having a hamburger (they’re tiny) and small fries. And that was a meal. Then they went through the whole “supersize” phase.
Entire movies (and movements) have been started because of this subject, but we have become more conditioned to large portion sizes as normal.
You can read more about portion sizes in this excellent article from Healthline.
Here’s a very useful infographic you can use for portion control.
Limit Processed Foods
By processed, I mean things that you no longer recognize as a normal, single ingredient food.
Not everything processed is bad. For example, a healthy canned or “boxed” soup (whatever those aseptically sealed containers should be called) is certainly processed, but in many cases these can be pretty healthy.
Steel-cut oats could also be considered processed, since they are not just hanging out in the store in their uncut state, but they are a single ingredient food. Use your judgment here.
But candy, most cakes, cookies, packaged macaroni & cheese, and the like have way too much sugar, salt, and preservatives, and very little in the form of actual nutritional value.
Instead, focus on whole foods, which generally means unprocessed foods consisting of just one ingredient.
These include fruits and vegetables, of course, dairy products such as milk and natural yogurt, lean meats, chicken, and fish, beans and other legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs & spices.
You Can Still Eat Treats
It’s not necessary to cut out every processed food or treat, but make the good stuff 80+ percent of your diet and you will go a long way toward a very healthy, sustainable diet.
You can certainly drink some wine, have dessert, or indulge in the occasional piece of cake or some cookies. Just don’t eat (or drink) mindlessly.
Make sure you are choosing to eat or drink these treats or splurges, instead of just automatically reacting to the situation at hand.
Clean, healthy eating is really the key to weight loss and overall health and fitness. Even if you are at a good, stable healthy weight, in order to maintain your health in your second phase, you need to focus on eating clean!
If you use these 5 clean eating tips to help you lose weight, you’re almost sure to succeed.
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