Fall is here! Along with the smell of the season’s first bonfires, the crisp chill that marks fall mornings and evenings, the sound of rustling leaves, and all of the beautiful fall autumn colors comes the delicious tastes of holiday meals. For many of us who love food, Fall and the approaching holiday season can be one of the toughest times to stick to a healthy diet regiment. This year, instead of starting some difficult to manage diet, the WE Fit Wellness team recommends getting a clean start before the holiday season.
Clean eating is a popular buzz word but many of us are not exactly sure what it means or how to do it. According to Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, authors of The Whole30, clean eating is about knowing the path of the food that you eat and enjoying real, whole foods. It is about enjoying nutrient rich minimally processed foods instead of highly processed foods that do not give our bodies what they need. In It Starts with Food, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig explain that our bodies instinctually respond favorable to salty, sweet, and fatty tastes. This is because our ancestors used these tastes to determine which foods were safe and which foods were nutrient rich. Now, producers of processed foods use our biological instincts to produce foods high in fat, salt, and sugar to increase our attraction and cravings for their product. Unfortunately we still have the same biological response to these highly processed nutrient deficient foods as we would to nutrient dense real food.
Clean eating allows us to enjoy food without cutting out or drastically limiting any specific food group. By focusing on the consumption of whole, nutrient rich, minimally processed foods we can eat well and become healthier at the same time. Here are some tips to help you get started on your clean eating journey.
Avoid items with ingredients you cannot pronounce.
All products have a list of ingredients. Read through the ingredient list and if there are ingredients you cannot pronounce “ones that sound like they belong in a science experiment instead of your dinner” consider leaving that item on the shelve. If you are blind or have a print disability there are bar code scanning apps like Digit-Eyes. Keep it simple and look for items with fewer ingredients as well.
Shop the Perimeter of the Store
When thinking of the local grocery store what is on the outer perimeter? Produce, meat, dairy, etc… Shopping the outer parameter of the store will generally steer you to the fresher and whole food options and help you avoid some of the most highly processed foods. This does not mean that everything that you find on the perimeter of the store will be great for you, but it is a good rule of thumb to use when shopping.
Avoid Added Sugar
When satisfying that sweet tooth, think of foods that are naturally sweet like nutrient rich fruits. Avoid foods with lots of added sugar like packaged pastries, bread, and candy. If you are purchasing items from the store like canned applesauce or canned fruit, look for that no sugar added label.
Control Your Portions
Just because you are eating healthier foods does not mean that you have to eat for three people. Consider a reasonable sized portion. As you move away from the highly processed foods, your body will do a better job of letting you know it is full. There are great resources for learning more about portion control like the Team BeachBody 21 Day Fix program that combines clean eating concepts with portion control. Also check out Healthyeating.org for some great portion control tips.
Wash Produce Thoroughly and Make Smart Choices when Buying Organic
Wash all fresh produce thoroughly to eliminate residue left behind by pesticides. Also you may choose to spend the extra money and buy certain foods from the organic section. . Dr. Andrew Weil recommends eleven foods that you should always buy organic. Once again, especially if you are not buying organic, wash wash wash.
Start the Week with a Plan
Starting the week with a plan is a great way to set yourself up for success. If you can answer the question of what is for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack in advance you are less likely to reach for those bad for us, junky, Planning helps us prepare more meals at home and eat out less. It also helps us make better choices at the grocery store so when we reach for a snack we have good choices at our fingertips.
Read the Literature
If you are interested in learning more about Clean eating and why it is effective check out some of the leading literature. Here are five book options that can be very helpful on a clean eating journey.
In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto by Michael Pollan
In this book, Michael Pollan breaks down eating into an easy to remember seven word strategy. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
Clean Eating Simplified: The Simplified Series by Emma Young
In this book, Emma Young rejects the notion of dieting and instead teaches how to incorporate clean eating into your lifestyle and make it a part of who you are.
Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
In this book, Michael Moss helps us understand the methods that food manufactures use to keep us hooked on salt, sugar, and fat. This book will change the way you look at a food label
It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
In this book, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig outline a balanced and sustainable plan to change the way you eat.
The Art of Eating Well: Hemsley and Hemsley by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley
In this book you will find recipes, knowledge, and advice about making the switch to a healthy eating lifestyle.
Following these simple tips will help you begin making small changes toward a healthier lifestyle. As you become more confident in your healthy eating it will become second nature. Making the best choices will become something that you want to do. When you feel better because of the food you are eating, those not so good choices will be fewer and farther between. Take this time to get a head start before Thanksgiving. You will be glad that you did. For other great exercise and nutrition tips, subscribe to the Find Your Fit podcast and BreakingBlind on YouTube.