Struggling to turn your bad nutrition habits around? Here are 10 simple strategies to eat clean.
1. Prepare in advance, cook more
The first and most important eat-clean strategy is simple [highlight]preparation[/highlight]. The best intentions to eat clean get derailed due to a lack of prep, which often means we have to resort to unhealthy substitutes. If you’re really interested in turning your nutrition around you have to set aside some kitchen time. Cooking meals or portioning off foods in advance will ensure that you always have a meal ready when you’re supposed to eat, which goes a long way to keeping blood sugar levels stable. It also removes the guesswork at meal time, leaving you to go about your day without worrying about preparing 4-6 fresh meals each time, which isn’t realistic in today’s time-strapped lifestyle.
2. Get the right gear
There are a few kitchen accessories that help with eating clean. Make sure you have adequate tupperware to freeze and store any foods you prepare in advance. These will also help you keep an eye on portion sizes. By investing in a digital scale you’ll also ensure that your serving sizes are spot on (or refer to point six).
3. Shop smart
The supermarket isles are riddled with diet no-nos, so make a shopping list of the things you need and ignore the rest. It only takes a short while for your body to adjust to a new heathy way of life, and soon those temptations will be in your past. Another key is to make special time for your shopping. Don’t rush it and take pleasure in exploring new foods. Also, don’t go shopping while you’re hungry as you end up buying everything in sight to fill your immediate need.
4. Don’t skip breakfast
We sound a bit like a broken record, but you should know by now that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s vital to kick-start your metabolism after the nighttime fast, so it should be a balanced breakfast like oats with berries and an egg white omelette (or blend your protein shake, oats, ice and berries for a quick healthy alternative).
5. Say no to processed foods
Refined and processed foods contain very little nutritional value. Vegetables and grains are meant to be eaten whole for our bodies to derive the maximum benefit from all the nutrients they contain. Refined wheat, particularly white flour, is one of the worst dietary choices you can make. A better choice would be to eat complex carbohydrates like brown and wild rice, oats and oatmeal flour or quinoa.
6. Watch portion sizes
You already know that smaller, more frequent meals are better for your metabolism, but what are the right portion sizes? Your plate doesn’t need to buckle under the weight of your dinner – keep it light and clean.
One portion of… Should be this size…
- Protein: The palm of your hand
- Vegetables: The size of two clenched fist
- Grains: The size of a clenched fist
- Carbohydrates: A cupped hand
7. Don’t skip meals
To feed your body and keep your metabolism running optimally you should eat 4-6 healthy meals a day. Skipping meals doesn’t help your waistline as it leads to excess fat storage. But we’re realistic too and know that even the best intentions hit the occasional speed bump. That’s where the clever use of supplements as part of your daily nutrition plan can help a great deal. If you know that you’re not going to have time to prepare or eat a meal, have a meal replacement or protein shake at the ready to fill the gap.
8. Spice up your meals
Rather than depend on sauces and creams to flavour up your meals, try a variety of spices to add that extra flavour. Cooking with herbs will also make your food taste a little more flavourful. These spices even help speed up your metabolism:
Curry powders, including turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper or cumin, and ginger can raise your body temperature and increases your heart rate.
9. Pile on the veggies
Every meal should contain a serving of vegetables. Other than the huge amounts of good, healthy nutrients, they are also packed with fibre and help keep blood sugar levels under control, which keeps those cravings at bay. An interesting way to add more vegetables to you meals would be to make healthy sauces by pureeing them or adding them to stews and broth-based soups.
10. Experiment with new foods
A bland and boring diet is a recipe for disaster. Don’t think that by eating clean you’re only limited to things like chicken and fish as your protein choices, even though there is a huge variety of fish choices. Try out new cuts of meat like venison, ostrich or pork, and experiment with different ways of cooking, like oven grilling or popping them on the braai. Quinoa is also a great choice of protein, and makes for an interesting addition to a salad.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.