Golden Rules of Clean Eating

24/09/2015 13:03 BST | Updated 24/09/2016 10:12 BST

Have you heard of clean eating? It's the new buzz phrase in nutrition. The days of calorie counting and low fat diet foods are soon going to be a thing of the past and in its place whole and natural nutrition.

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Image by Hedi Hearts

Eating clean does not mean washing your fruits and vegetables before preparing them. It means that you give up your lifestyle of eating food that has chemicals, colouring, added preservatives and is heavily processed. This type of eating actually drains your energy and impacts your health in a negative way. If you want to get lean, then you have to eat clean. Ditch all the processed food for the most natural ingredients and your body will thank you forever.

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Image by Hedi Hearts

So what is this "clean eating"? Another new diet? No, clean eating doesn't require any hard core dieting rules or regulations; all you have to do is swap your meaty sandwich with creamy dressing for almonds and chicken with cauliflower rice and morning English fry-up for overnight oats. It's a healthy lifestyle approach which includes eating up to 6 times a day, realistic portion sizes, drinking plenty of water and consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. Always check the product label and consider each ingredient individually. This means if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it. And absolutely avoid processed foods.

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Image by Hedi Hearts

Eating clean focuses on consuming whole, healthy unprocessed foods that our bodies are created to eat. When you adapt to eating clean you embark on a healthy journey that becomes your lifestyle. Your diet will be filled with healthy vegetables, refreshing fruits, whole grains and much more. Many people who are just learning or beginning their journey into eating clean may feel a bit overwhelmed and wonder what exactly is required to begin their new lifestyle. There are a few golden rules for eating clean that will help you adapt to your new lifestyle easily:

1) Remove Unhealthy Food - Begin your journey to a healthier lifestyle by going through your kitchen and removing all foods that are processed, have added sugars and salt or any food that is not made with healthy, whole, natural ingredients.

2) Purchase Organic Foods - Fruits and vegetables that are non-organic tend to have hormones and pesticides. Eating clean means removing contact with chemicals, hormones and pesticides. Organic produce is grown naturally and is void of toxic chemicals. If you can't afford to go all organic a helpful tip is to always wash your produce to remove any possible chemicals, pesticides, residue or soil before eating it.

3) Choose Whole, Natural Foods - Whole natural foods include fresh fruits and vegetables. Anything that is grown and still looks like its natural state is a good tip to use when purchasing food for your next grocery list. Check the ingredients, anything that has sugar or an ingredient that you can't pronounce it, don't buy it.

4) Drink up! - Drinking plenty of water on a daily basis is the key to maintaining your clean eating lifestyle. Water flushes out toxins and keeps your body working at optimum level. You can always add lemon to the water for extra flavour.

5) Eat Six Small Meals Per Day - Choose to eat your delicious natural foods in small portions throughout the day. Consuming your meals and snacks frequently will allow your body to burn off calories in between meals and make your metabolism run at optimum level. This is the key to maintaining your weight and blood glucose sugar levels.

6) Choose Unrefined Foods - Unrefined foods include legumes, beans, brown rice, quinoa and millet. For those of you with a sweet tooth, you will want to replace white and brown sugars with honey, coconut sugar and natural maple syrup.

7) Add Protein - Make sure you add protein to your meals or snacks throughout the day. Protein keeps you full for long periods of time and helps build muscles.

8) Include Carbohydrates - Many people enjoy carbohydrates such as barley, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, vegetables and fruits. Many of your meals and snacks will be made with carbohydrates. Make sure you include at least one carbohydrate ingredient with every meal and snack each day. Carbohydrates are good for you and provide you with energy, nutrients and vitamins.

9) Remove High Calorie Drinks - Those delicious sweet teas, specialty coffees and soda might be delicious, but they are packed full of sugar, calories and unnatural ingredients. Replace some of your favourite drinks with alternatives like using raw honey to sweeten your coffee and tea.

10) Exercise - Keep busy and find ways to exercise. If going to the gym everyday doesn't sound interesting or fun, try alternative and creative ways to stay fit. Take a walk in your neighbourhood after work, go hiking on your day off, swim a few laps at the pool or beach. Make exercise fun and part of your regular schedule.

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Image by Hedi Hearts

Follow these golden rules for eating clean and begin your journey to a healthy, active lifestyle. It's wise to include your family and friends by inviting them to participate in your exercise activities and cooking nutritious meals for them. Eating clean will boost your energy level, make your skin glow, flush toxins from your system, maintain your weight, strengthen your immune system and quicken your metabolism.

If you are not sure where to start, I think my 3 Month Clean Eating challenge could just be it! For more inspiration join the Clean Eating community on Facebook.

Enjoy your journey and live healthy!