You probably hear a lot of people who say they “eat clean,” but what exactly is a clean eating diet?
A clean eating diet is when someone eats as little packaged foods as possible, and who incorporates as many whole foods as possible into their diet.
Here is my list of my top 12 clean eating diet tips for you to get started!
1. Remove all of the junk out of your house…throw it in the garbage. If you don’t have it around you will not be tempted to eat it, and once you figure out your clean eating diet and how great you feel without the junk, you won’t want to buy it anymore.
2. Absolutely no fast food…ever. To avoid being starving and giving into the McDonalds or Burger King temptation, always have a healthy snack with you to hold you over (I always make sure to have a protein bar, a piece of fruit, or rice cake in the car or in my purse at all times). This also includes any baked good from Dunkin Donuts or a bakery (especially muffins…STAY AWAY from the muffins). The only exception I make to this is a burrito bowl at Chipotle :)…I stick to chicken, brown rice, black beans, lettuce, salsa and a little guacamole and I stay away from the sour cream and cheese.
3. Eat 5-6 small meals per day. You want to always keep your metabolism revved and avoid a sugar crash. Make sure you eat within an hour of waking up and eat small “meals” every 2-3 hours. I usually have breakfast, lunch, and dinner and three snacks. Stay tuned for clean eating diet meal ideas and grocery list later in the week!
4. When it comes to liquids, water is your new best friend. Eliminate everything else except for 1-2 cups of coffee or tea. Absolutely NO SODA!
5. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and stay out of the middle aisles as much as possible! If you stick to mainly produce, meat and dairy you will be on your way to a clean eating diet. You want to stick to eating foods that come from a farm, not a food laboratory.
6. For the few packaged foods you do have to buy, learn how to read a nutrition label. Aim for the least amount of ingredients listed and avoid anything with ingredients (preservatives, additives) that you can’t pronounce. Also, aim for foods low in fat, low in sugar, low in cholesterol and high in protein and fiber.
7. Eliminate as much flour as possible from your diet. This means no bread, no pasta, no breakfast cereals, and no packaged cereal bars for the most part. I know, I know it sounds absolutely awful, but I promise you, once you learn how to make substitutions you won’t want to go back. Substitute brown rice, brown rice pasta or quinoa for pasta, swap out bread for Ezekiel flourless bread (I have this every morning), and oatmeal (plain rolled oats) for breakfast cereals. Trust me…it will be hard at first but after you make this change for awhile you won’t want to go back. A favorite substitution for regular pasta is Zoodles! You can use a julienne slicer or a Vegetti (pictured below), steam them and pair with your favorite sauce.
8. Allow yourself one cheat meal per week. By practicing moderation in your diet it will be easier for you to stay on track for the long run. I mean I wouldn’t recommend eating a super fatty Fettucine Alfredo every week with a carton of ice cream for dessert, BUT you are allowed to enjoy the foods you usually stay away from and you CAN have regular pasta once in a while and even a little dessert too.
9. DO NOT count calories, but focus more on counting macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats). By increasing your protein and good fat intake and decreasing the simple carbs you consume, your body will become a fat burning machine. I recommend downloading a free app to track this for you (I recommend MyFitnessPal to all of my clients) until you get the hang of it. If you eat more of the right things and less of the simple, packaged carbs, you will always feel satisfied and are less likely to binge. So many count and eat restrictive calorie diets and never see results because most times they aren’t eating enough.
10. Don’t fall for the gluten-free gimmick. Just because something is labeled “gluten-free,” it doesn’t mean it’s healthy and you should eat it. Just like the “non-fat” label movement ten years ago, the new craze for food companies is labeling everything gluten-free. Do not be fooled by this!
11. Learn how to substitute unhealthy ingredients for healthier options in your favorite recipes. I’m becoming a pro at this and my top substitution we use in our house is non-fat plain Greek yogurt. I use it in all recipes that call for sour cream, cream of something soup, fatty dressings, etc.), and you can’t tell the difference. Once you learn how to be creative with your cooking you will start trimming the fat and processed ingredients more and more.
12. PLAN AHEAD as much as you can. I usually eat the same things for each meal and snacks during the week and I’m more flexible on the weekends but I plan my dinners each Sunday night for the week and make my shopping list for Mondays. I know exactly what we are having and it makes it easier to stay on track. Also, if you don’t have much time in the mornings and need to get to work/school, I suggest meal prepping in containers that you can grab in go once per week in advance.
Are you ready to transition to a clean eating diet? If so, fill out the form below to participate in my FREE clean eating challenge that starts tomorrow, Tuesday October 14th and goes until Sunday, October 19th. I will guide you on what to eat and answer all of your questions to jump start your clean eating diet!