Mention the phrase 'clean eating' to someone, and they immediately balk at the idea. Responses could include: 'that sounds like a lot of work'; 'it's just too complicated'; 'I don't have time for that'; 'I'm not very good at sticking to a diet'; or 'I'm not very good in the kitchen, its just simpler to buy ready meals'.
Really though, clean eating is very simple. It's about incorporating fresh, natural food into your diet. It's not a diet in the true sense of the word, rather a lifestyle choice that will ensure you are eating wholesome and nourishing meals. These meals will be delicious and packed full of flavour and will not leave you feeling hungry or deprived.
In the meantime, if you're wondering where to get started, here are my top three tips for clean eating. It's all about filling your plate, and body, with the good stuff, and you'll find it's easier than you think.
1. Limit Processed Foods
What do I mean by that? Well, first step is to avoid those supermarket ready meals at all costs. They are not nutritious and wholesome, despite what the packaging might say. Take a look at the ingredients list - if there is something that you can't pronounce or you don't recognise, put it back on the shelf. Processed foods also have a lot of preservatives in order to prolong shelf life, and these are additives are not good for you.
Processed foods include items such as white bread, white flour and white pasta. These are refined carbohydrates and are often foods that are full of calories, high in sodium and laden in fat. Simply put, they are not good for you. So instead, replace them with whole grains instead. Choose whole grain pasta and rice, and wholemeal bread. Another thing to ditch is refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. It makes sense that these are something to avoid. If you do have a sweet tooth, I suggest natural honey with yoghurt. Its delicious and will kill that sweet tooth craving.
2. Cooking at home
Instead of buying processed foods, try to cook at home as much as you can. Use fresh ingredients and create your own meals. It doesn't have to be anything complicated. If you looking for inspiration, head to https://infoodieheaven.wordpress.com for loads of ideas and recipes. By cooking from home, you will know exactly what has gone into your meal and it will help you to eat a balanced diet. As a basic rule of thumb, try and include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and good fats in your meals. Having good fat in your diet is important, and it can be found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, cold-water fish, nut butters and sunflower seeds.
3. Bump up your veggies
As a part of cooking at home, we want veggies to take centre stage with our meals. Try and make sure to eat plenty of vegetables in every meal; they are no longer just an extra on our plate. Choose fresh broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, peas, carrots, kale, green beans, asparagus, onions, courgette and aubergine - the list goes on. If possible, try and buy local, seasonal produce. The taste will be far superior, as will the nutritional content, and it's always good to try and support your local farmers. Veggies are now the stars of the show!
A final thought ... don't try and strive for perfection with clean eating. It's not possible. Start with small changes and gradually make bigger ones, so that a clean eating lifestyle will be sustainable for you. And even when you have it nailed, it's still ok to treat yourself every now and then. 80/20 is my approach, and by making that commitment to your eating, you will nourish your body inside and out.