Clean Eating as a Lifestyle to Help with Weight Loss
What is clean eating and can it help with weight loss? Although there is no clinical definition, clean eating is consuming foods that are minimally processed and as close to their natural form as possible. It’s the path from which food originates. Is the food coming straight from the farm or a manufacturing facility? Clearly, something coming from the farm would be a lot “cleaner”. This pattern of eating can also help you lose weight without really putting too much effort into it. You are not weighing, measuring or being obsessive about calories. You are essentially eating foods that are as close to the earth as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to do so 100% of the time, because if you did, you would essentially be following a “diet”, that can lead to a restrictive and overeating cycle that would lead you down a slippery slope. Consider this style of eating more of a lifestyle shift or a healthier pattern of eating.
Think about it like this: if you owned an expensive sports car like a Ferrari, would you put unleaded gas or premium fuel to run its delicate but powerful engine? Regular unleaded would make it run, but not at optimal capacity, and over time the unleaded gas would ruin the engine. Consider yourself like an exotic sports car needing premium “fuel” or food to make it run smoothly while minimizing long term complications like developing diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol.
When you switch to eating clean, you are refreshing your eating habits without limiting major food groups or obsessing about calorie counts. In this way you end up losing weight, you de-bloat and make yourself feel comfortable in your body while getting to a weight that’s right for you!
My Top Clean Eating Tips for Weight Loss
Here are 7 Clean Eating Tips to get you started and that will hopefully keep you healthy and light!
1. Eat Those Carbs!
Carbs are not the villain, and eating clean does not mean you need to eliminate carbs. Your body needs all three macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) to thrive and function. Your brain needs the sugar (or glucose) from carbs to function. However, your brain doesn’t really know the difference between farro and Twinkies – they’re both carbs, right? But your body does! So eating whole grains like quinoa, farro and barley, in addition to fruits, vegetables and legumes, gives your body clean sources of carbs that carry vitamins and minerals, which are vital for your body’s functioning. The fiber in these “clean” carbs also keep you nice and full, thus reducing your cravings for refined sugars that can potentially lead to weight gain.
2. You Can Load Up Your Plate!
Eating clean means you are more mindful of the decisions you are making around your meals and snacks. It does not mean eating less. This isn’t a fad diet that eliminates food groups, but a lifestyle pattern. It gives you the tools to make more informed decisions around what you will eat, while still being able to maintain or lose weight. In this way, you end up eating delicious and wholesome foods, while being able to include treats in moderation without having to do so on “cheat days”.
3. Consider Going Meatless Once or Twice a Week
Eat more plant-based meals! This reduces the carbon footprint for the planet and allows you to eat more sustainably. Plant based foods are typically less processed than meat-based foods and provide an abundance of nutrients. Try incorporating buckwheat and nuts in your pancakes, quinoa in your salads and beans in your smoothies. All these foods provide a great source of protein and fiber which will fill you up and keep your digestive system humming.
4. Read Your Labels
Wise words from Tosca Reno, author of the Eat Clean diet – “If you can’t read it, don’t eat it!”. When eating clean, you are aiming to eat real food. Marketing on packaging can be deceptive. If the word on the label looks like something straight out of a chemistry book, please put it down! Chances are it has added sweetener or artificial preservatives to the product. In order to avoid this, look at the label and try picking a product with 6 ingredients or less. If you do, chances are that these foods have less additives, colorings and artificial sweeteners that your body just doesn’t need. Remember, we don’t want a science experiment brewing in your body!
5. Know the Truth About Salad Dressing and Other Condiments, Like Ketchup
Did you know that salad dressings have a laundry list of ingredients, the worse being salt and sugar? This leads to a bunch of extra calories, too! Other store-bought condiments, like Ketchup, which is seemingly benign, have a ton of added sugar and salt. A good replacement for regular ketchup with cleaner ingredients is the Annie’s Organic Ketchup, Primal Kitchen Organic Ketchup or the True Made Foods ketchup, all of which can be found on Amazon. Instead of a highly processed salad dressing, opt for good oil and vinegar(s) or make your own at home!
6. Eat What Makes You Feel Good
Consider journaling what you are currently eating and then start journaling what you eat when you start eating clean. Don’t focus on any kind of calorie counting on those clean eating days. Just note how you feel, your energy levels and your mood while eating clean. You might notice a huge difference in all three which will motivate you to continue on this path!
7. Ditch the Excess Sugar
Americans eat too much added sugar on a daily basis. This can lead to a myriad of problems, one being unwanted weight gain. From candy to baked goods and canned soups, you never know where the extra sugar is hiding. The recommendation from the American Heart Association is to limit sugar to no more than 6 or 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day (for women and men respectively). Added sugars can be found in yogurts, granola bars, cereal and peanut butter. Try looking for foods that don’t include any type of sugar or foods that have sugar listed towards the end of the ingredient list which means there is less of it in the product. Natural sugar from fruits and vegetables is fine. A good rule of thumb is to put down any product that has more than 10 grams of added sugar per serving.
Final Words on Clean Eating for Weight Loss
Remember, clean eating is not a prescribed diet to be meticulously followed, but a more informed, holistic pattern of eating. Our ancestors ate this way before “organic farming” or “natural foods” were a thing. Everything grew in the ground and had no “added ingredients”. In turn, we had less obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and other chronic diseases back in those days. Let’s learn from our past and make sure that our future health is steeped in wholesome, good tasting food that naturally takes its place in our daily lives!
If you need more support in understanding how to fuel your body properly and manage your weight with clean eating principles, you can learn more about what I do on my Services page.