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Making the right food choices to promote a healthy lifestyle can seem daunting in a culture that thrives on junk food and take out. The good news is, it can be done. With a little planning, preparation and discipline, you can lead a healthy lifestyle that contributes to your body’s overall well-being, and may even improve many aspects of your day-to-day life with 5 steps to eating clean.

  1. You Are What You Eat: Foods To Avoid For Clean Eating
  2. Eat Whole Foods And Prepare Them At Home For A Well-Rounded Diet
  3. Clean Eating: Tips To Incorporating Fruits And Veggies
  4. Healthy Lifestyle Goals: Start With Your Water Intake
  5. Practice Makes Perfect When It Comes To Clean Eating

Ready to eat clean, remove processed foods, but don’t know where to start? Here are five easy steps that can help. Read on to learn more.

1. You Are What You Eat: Foods To Avoid For Clean Eating

Don’t think of clean eating as a typical diet, like the ketogenic diet. Clean eating is more than a diet. It’s more of an overall lifestyle change. You’ll want to incorporate a balanced diet of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, so that you can make the choices that are best for your body.1

steps to eating clean | Unify HealthAn easy first step to take is to avoid artificial and ultra-processed foods like sweeteners/refined sugar, refined grains, and vegetable oils or spreads. Canned foods may offer an easy alternative to buying fresh produce, but these tend to be packed with unnecessary calories, additional sugar, salt, saturated fat, and other additives that create barriers to eating clean.2

Of course, you don’t have to completely stop eating packaged foods. Understanding what kinds of things are being added to your food is a large part of clean eating. Next time you’re in the grocery store, read the ingredients on the back of your canned or packaged food. Some ingredients to avoid include:

  • Palm Oil
  • Shortening or partially hydrogenated oil
  • White Flour, Rice, Pasta, and Bread
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • MSG3

Depending on how the label reads, you may have to ditch your canned tomatoes, artificial sweeteners for your coffee or tea, and especially those sugary cookies and candy. Instead, opt for clean foods like whole grains, fresh fruits, grass-fed or pasture-raised meats, and vegetables instead.4

2. Eat Whole Foods And Prepare Them At Home For A Well-Rounded Diet

As previously discussed, the goal of clean eating is to eat more real, whole foods, especially fruits, vegetables, whole sugars and grains, beans, and certain plant and animal proteins. This way, your body can get the nutrients it needs without harmful additives.5

avocado and eggs | Unify HealthHealthy fats, like eggs and avocados, are a great way to get helpful nutrients without eating foods that have a high saturated or trans-fat content, like fatty cuts of meat.

After stocking up your grocery cart with whole foods, the next step to incorporating a clean eating diet into your daily routine is to cook meals at home as often as you can. It’s easier to understand what’s going into your body when you’re the one dicing and sautéing the ingredients, as opposed to being served a dish at a restaurant that might have a high sodium or fat content. In fact, eating home cooked meals has been associated with better dietary quality and lower fat storage in the body.6

Clean eating is meant to be enjoyed and might be easier to achieve once your loved ones are on board. Instead of going out to eat, pack a picnic with a healthy snack. This allows you to keep the social aspect of dining out while still maintaining the clean eating lifestyle with a healthy meal that’s good for you.7,8

3. Clean Eating: Tips To Incorporating Fruits And Veggies

making smoothies | Unify Health

Need some ideas on delicious ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet? Try these.

  • Prep a vegetable medley in your fridge by chopping veggies up and adding olive oil and your choice of herbs for a quick snack.
  • Experiment with recipes for different smoothies. These go great with a breakfast or after an afternoon full of activity.
  • When making a salad, include at least three different types of vegetables.
  • Fruits like berries, orange slices, peaches, kiwi, and more make for great garnishes on your favorite dish.

One of the great aspects about clean eating is that there’s no shortage of innovative and healthy, inclusive recipes to try or get creative with. If you’re trying to incorporate more plant-based foods, most clean eating recipes can be altered to include whatever meat alternatives or ingredients (like grass-fed butter, for example) you desire.

4. Healthy Lifestyle Goals: Start With Your Water Intake

drinking water | Unify Health

Perhaps one of the most important lifestyle changes you can make when incorporating a clean eating diet is the amount of water your body gets. The average person needs between four and six cups of water daily – but check with your doctor to see what they recommend for you.9

Just like with processed foods, it’s important to cut out sugary drinks, like soda and sports drinks. Ideally, you’ll want to increase your water intake and try to limit your alcohol consumption.10,11

5. Practice Makes Perfect When It Comes To Clean Eating

clean eating | Unify HealthEating clean can lead to a better, healthier understanding and management of your weight when paired with proper exercise. Studies have shown that when a healthy lifestyle approach is taken to control weight management, significant, positive changes may happen.12

However, it’s important to note that clean eating isn’t about transforming just one meal or substituting one food for another from time to time. It takes practice to form the good habits of choosing whole foods.13 Hopefully, by following the steps outlined here, adopting clean eating habits might be easier for you. You’ll be creating a healthy living lifestyle for your body’s health and well-being.

Learn More:
Try These Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives: Delicious Dairy-Free Products
What Is The Paleo Diet? Paleo Definition And Other Information You Should Know
Feeling Tired And Sluggish After Lunch? Ways To Beat The Afternoon Energy Slump

Sources
1 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/06/clean-eating-guide-dietician-what-is-it-how-to
2 https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Canned-Food-Bad-You-44503167
3 https://www.thebetterhealthstore.com/043011_top-ten-toxic-ingredients-in-processed-food_01.html
4 https://www.today.com/health/clean-eating-basics-it-s-surprisingly-easier-you-think-t92921
5 https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/better-way-think-about-clean-eating-ncna1020996
6 https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-017-0567-y
7 https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf
8 https://www.thekitchn.com/the-beginners-guide-to-meal-planning-what-to-know-how-to-succeed-and-what-to-skip-242413
9 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink
10 http://www.healthyfoodamerica.org/sugartoolkit_kahuna
11 https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/alcohol-and-heart-health
12 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743502911266
13 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/clean-eating-tips#section24