Happy Monday!

Essentials
Creative Commons License photo credit: needoptic

This week’s Menu Plan Monday deals with something that as I became healthier last year, I did inadvertently. As I worked hard to eat better and lose weight, I also did something else without even trying. I ate more whole foods.

I didn’t really try to. In fact, I very distinctly remember scoffing at someone who was gung ho into eating Paleo. But when I thought about my eating style towards the end of the year, I realized that I was eating a pretty clean diet.

According to Zen Habits, it means 

So what is clean eating?

  • Food consumed in its most natural state, or close to it.
  • Which means nothing processed.
  • Fruits and veggies, of course.
  • Nuts, legumes, natural nut butters, nut oils.
  • Whole grains, preferably not ground into flour.
  • Lean proteins, although I don’t eat meat or dairy.

This is my goal, at least. I don’t do it 100% of the time. I shoot for about 90%.

Eating Clean for Dummies defines it as:

Clean eating is the act of basing your diet on whole, unprocessed or organic foods. In other words, when you eat clean, you try to eat as low ont he food chain as possible.

When I asked Twitter, here’s some of the responses:

@Deborah105 - For me, clean eating is no sugar, no grains, no packaged foods. :)
@aspiringmama - for me it’s gluten free and free of all sugar. No processed foods. Real whole veggies, fruits, organic proteins.

For me it means this:

I eat mostly unprocessed foods – the only regular foods I eat that are processed are my Quaker oatmeal cups and my soy yogurt. Sometimes you can add in Glutino gluten free crackers or Rudi’s gluten free bread, but less than two times a month.

So, the big question is this – how do you eat clean? Or, better yet, how can you easily learn to eat clean?

Here’s 5 ways to get started:

1. Look at what you eat that is processed, then look at alternatives

After I had been working at losing weight for a few months, I got to the point where I really looked at the things I was eating. Then I asked myself the following “Is this moving me towards my goal of losing weight?”

For most of it, the answer was no.

I’m talking things like Rice a Roni (something we had several times a week), processed soup, granola bars, soda, etc.

I didn’t change everything all at once. That would have been torture! Instead, I changed one thing at a time. For example, I stopped eating the Rice a Roni and replaced it with veggies.

2. Replace one processed snack with a clean snack

This was an easy one. I was eating Life Cereal bars for my morning snack. It had good protein, but it had a bunch of ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. I challenged myself to substitute veggies for my morning snack for a week.

That’s all it took.

Now, for my morning snack, I usually have a veggie with hummus and some fruit. If I really need a treat, I have a Lara bar. SO. DAMN. YUMMY.

So what is one item you can replace with a fresh fruit or veggie?

3. Plan ahead

Remember how important menu planning is? Here’s another area it can help with. Plan your meals and see how you can add in more fresh food. Because of my food allergies, I know 80% of my weekly food in advance. This could be because I eat the same stuff 80% of the time, but it works well for me.

Look at your meals and plan accordingly.

4. Make it easy

Eating clean doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the kitchen, chopping away. Buy bags of baby carrots, flash frozen veggies (I’m hooked on the broccoli/cauliflower mix) and salad bags if you have to. Make it easy to start, then as you get used to it, switch one thing. I now buy whole green peppers instead of buying them, but I still buy bagged carrots and frozen veggies.

Making it easy = making it happen

5. Eat more protein

Chicken Nuggets?
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ms.FabiHenne

Most Americans don’t get enough protein as it is, so try to eat protein at every meal. Eat an egg with breakfast, eat some chicken or turkey at lunch and then have another meat or some beans with dinner.

 

Do you or are you trying to limit the amount of processed foods you and your family eat? If so, how? Please leave it in the comments!!

Who's that Spartan doing tai chi? It's me! It's me!

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