When you eat healthy, real food, you feel good!
The greatest investment you will ever make is in your health.
The major key to understand about eating clean is that it isn’t a diet, its a lifestyle! We want to eat better, but most of us don’t know how.
I have always exercised regularly, but didn’t eat well.
Once I began eating whole real foods and increased my consumption of whole real traditional fats, my health improved dramatically.
How to eat healthy involves choosing whole foods, avoiding processed foods, and creating a healthy, conscious approach to what foods you eat.
It’s about making better, more nutritious choices for your body.
It’s also about refusing to continue to put junk in your body. “Junk” includes processed foods, artificial colors and sugars, foods with lots of salt and that are high in saturated fat.
It is unbelievable how much better I felt once I ditched the “junk” from my diet. The brain fog lifted, I slept better than I have in years, my skin and hair improved and I wasn’t tired during the day.
Why I Started Eating Clean, Real Food
I’ve had thyroid issues and been on a medication for it for years. I never knew I could at least help control the issue with a change in my diet. I just popped a pill every single day.
I was then diagnosed a year ago with rosacea.
The dermatologist wrote a prescription and handed it to me. But, I wanted to fix the underlying cause, not pop a pill everyday.
My skin was very red and inflamed and also had large red painful pustules on my cheeks that would flair up at different times. I thought I had adult acne until the dermatologist told me different.
I knew there had to be an underlying cause and my skin was telling me something was off in my body.
There was inflammation in my body and gut that I needed to take care of.
Because of the changes I have made in my diet and personal products, my doctor was able to decrease my thyroid medicine down to less than half my original dose and I control the rosacea with all natural products.
I have energy and feel great! No more afternoon tiredness and I sleep all night now. I was not a good sleeper for years.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with medicine! Medicine is good and saves lives. I also did not decrease my thyroid medication dose on my own. My Dr. decreased it because my blood work is so good.
What if the same could happen for you by changing your diet and learning how to eat healthy, whole foods?
Healthy Eating Basics for your Refrigerator and Pantry
Some unprocessed foods include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Dried beans/legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Farm-fresh eggs
Minimally processed foods include:
- Unrefined grains, like whole wheat bread, brown rice pasta, popcorn, oats, quinoa, and brown rice
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Unprocessed meat- grass fed beef and hormone/antibiotic free chicken
- Hormone-free dairy
- Healthy fats- Virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and avocados.
It’s also important to note that eating clean doesn’t give you free reign to eat endless quantities. They may be healthy, but they still have calories!
Divide your plate in five equal parts: three-fifths should be fruits and vegetables, one-fifth should be protein, and one-fifth good carbs.
The #1 Rule is- TAKE BABY STEPS!
Trying to change everything at once is a recipe for disaster when you are learning how to eat healthy. Instead focus on making small changes you will actually stick with.
Cut up a whole bunch of vegetables on Sunday that will be in your refrigerator to snack on all week. That way when you need a quick snack, its available and will help you avoid the familiar habit of grabbing a bag of chips.
If you drink 3 sodas a day, cut out one. Then progress to cutting out 2 in the following weeks.
If you eat white bread, switch to whole wheat.
If you eat canned vegetables, switch to frozen. Most canned vegetables contain added sodium and sometimes sugar.
You get the idea…Change one habit at a time.
How I Started Eating Clean
I have read a few books along this journey that really opened my eyes to the modern western diet, as it is called. It is harming our bodies instead of bringing nutrition.
Processed foods, boat loads of sugar and additives, and artificial colors and flavors make up a large part of what we call “food”. God did not design us to eat something made in a laboratory.
A few of the books I read are:
Real Food, What to Eat and Why
100 Days of Real Food
The China Study- Revised and Expanded Edition – (This one made me realize the importance of eating more fruits & vegetables.)
I had to learn how to eat healthy and I can help you learn too.
I started off slow with the changes.
Don’t throw everything away in your pantry and refrigerator and just fill it with healthy food. You have to be real, and that won’t work!
Make a meal plan and then buy the healthy food.
There are thousands of healthy recipes on the internet and Pinterest. There are also healthier dessert recipes on the internet for that sweet tooth. (like these Healthy Buckeye Peanut Butter Balls)
Buy healthy snacks to have on hand when you need something. (Or make your own healthy snacks like these.)
My 80/20 Life
We do not go out to eat often but when we do, or are visiting friends for dinner, I eat whatever is served. Life is real. Do your best to make better food choices off the menu, but don’t make too big of a fuss over one dinner.
At home I have complete control over what I make or what I pack for snacks. I do not claim to eat 100% healthy.
My life now is at least 80% eating whole, real food. I feel great so I want to keep that up but, it was a journey to get to that point.
There are certain indulgences I won’t give up though, and you will probably be the same. We always eat pizza once a week. But instead of a meat lovers pizza, opt for a lot of different veggies on your pizza to give flavor and substance. Small changes.
As you continue to make healthy choices, you will find your taste buds change and your body begins to crave real food.
Also, if you eat something during the day that you feel you shouldn’t have, don’t waste the remainder of the day and think, I’ve already messed up so I might as well eat whatever.
Give yourself grace and just make better choices the rest of the day.
Remember you’re doing this because you want to feel good! Just get yourself back on track.
1. COOK YOUR OWN FOOD
The easiest way to control what goes into your food is to be the one who is preparing your food.
That way, you can control the salt, sugar, flavors, and fats that go in and you can work to keep those levels as low as possible. Ever wonder why restaurant food tastes so much better than home-cooked food?
It’s because restaurants tend to add a boat load of salt and butter to everything they cook.
2. AVOID PROCESSED FOODS
Nature certainly didn’t color those chips that neon color of orange or make blue candy-colored cereal!
Keep an eye out for super-long ingredient lists with foods you don’t recognize, and anything with large amounts of sugar and partially hydrogenated oils.
Clean processed foods exist like plain yogurt, cheese, whole-wheat pasta, and packaged lettuce and baby spinach.
And while you can make salad dressings (like this homemade ranch dressing), pasta sauce, mayo, hummus and broth at home, you can also find clean versions at the store.
Just read the ingredient list. Our bodies were never designed to eat “food” invented in a laboratory.
3. READ LABELS
It is so important to read labels when learning how to eat healthy.
Look for labels with relatively few ingredients and consider each ingredient in terms of, “Is this an ingredient I would cook with in my kitchen?” If not, pass.
Avoid foods with labels that include words like, “hydrolyzed,” or “modified,” as those indicate added processing and words that end in “-ose” because those indicate added sugars (think fructose).
Also, keep sodium levels as low as possible – your body only “needs” 250 mg each day to function and the American Heart Association says to eat no more than 1500 mg of sodium in a day.
BUT, the average American consumes a whopping 3400 mg of sodium a day, most of it coming from processed foods.
4. LIMIT ADDED SUGARS
Most Americans are addicted to sugar. Since clean eating has the intention of eating food in it’s most natural, whole state, it makes sense that you would want to avoid unnecessary sugars when choosing your food.
Satisfy your sweet tooth naturally. Fresh fruit should be all the sugar you need once you are on a clean eating track.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men. The average American gets about 4 times that amount—28 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
But it’s more than just desserts—keep an eye on sugars added to healthier foods like yogurt, tomato sauce and cereal.
Flavored yogurt seems like a healthy food until you read the nutrition label with the large amounts of sugar. Buy plain Greek Yogurt, add your own fruit and sweeten with honey or pure maple syrup. Even vanilla Greek Yogurt has a boatload of sugar. Stick with the plain version.
Also, pure maple syrup is not the same as pancake syrup. Read the label to make sure you buy the right thing. A little pure maple syrup goes a long way in sweetening your food.
Sugar on labels is listed in grams. 4 grams = 1 teaspoon.
You will learn to read sugar grams on labels on this journey of how to eat healthy.
Do not choose “low fat” or “fat free” foods. When the fat is taken out, it is replaced with sugar additives.
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5. EAT REAL FOOD
Whole foods are foods that haven’t been modified or tampered with in a lab or manufacturing plant.
The key on how to eat healthy is this step…eat. real. food.
Since whole foods haven’t been processed or refined, no added sugars, preservatives, dyes, fats, or salt has been added to the product to add extra flavor or to enhance shelf life or appearance.
Whole foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, unsalted nuts/seeds, whole grains, full-fat dairy products, and dried beans/legumes.
6. EAT MORE FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Multiple studies have shown that diets heavy on fruits and vegetables can curb or prevent certain life-threatening conditions and diseases, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Thanks to extensive research that has linked eating whole foods with good health, “we do know that largely plant-based diets are healthy,” according to US News.
When wondering how to eat healthy, make sure fruits and vegetables make up a large amount of your daily food intake.
Plus, there’s research linking diets high in fruits and veggies to healthy weight management and glowing skin and hair — as if you needed more motivation.
This doesn’t mean don’t eat meat, it just means eat a lot more fruits and vegetables!
7. EAT WHOLE GRAINS
People who eat more whole grains have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off long term.
The cleanest whole grains are the ones that have been touched the least by processing. Think whole grains that look most like their just-harvested state—quinoa, wild rice, oats.
Don’t get duped by “whole-grain” claims on a package though, read the nutrition label.
Whole grains should always be the first ingredient, the ingredient list should be short and recognizable, and it should have minimal added sugar.
Look for 100% whole wheat bread, sprouted bread or Ezekiel bread. If the ingredient label starts with the word “enriched” anywhere in the first few ingredients, put it back on the shelf.
When it comes to pasta, I personally do not like whole wheat pastas, but there are other delicious choices such as brown rice or quinoa pasta on your normal grocery store shelves.
8. EAT GRASS FED BEEF & FREE RANGE CHICKEN/EGGS
About 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock like cows, so it’s not crazy to be worried about antibiotics in beef, according to Food Safety News.
Cows that aren’t grass-fed live on diets of grain and are typically given hormones to unnaturally increase their weight which will yield more meat. Then we eat that meat full of antibiotics and hormones.
With grass-fed cows, weight gain is not as high because they eat a healthier, lower-calorie diet.
A recent study comparing conventional chicken and USDA Organic chicken found that inorganic arsenic concentrations were four times higher in conventional chicken meat than in USDA Organic chicken. Organic isn’t always worth it, but in the poultry section, it is!
Look for hormone and antibiotic free chicken.
Bigger chicken breasts are not better. To achieve a larger bird, they have been fed antibiotics, hormones and steroids that in turn are ingested and deposited into our bodies.
I have found both grass- fed beef and hormone and antibiotic free chicken at Aldi at great prices.
How to Start Eating Healthy
To start, take small steps. Don’t go straight from drinking 5 sodas a day to only drinking water. That won’t work and you will fail. Your body needs more of a gradual transition.
Replace one of those sodas with a glass of water to start. Then, tomorrow, replace two, and so on.
If you drink a coffee every morning full of sweetened creamer and sugar, you will hate your coffee if you try drinking it black. Try reducing the amount of sugar, then the amount of creamer you use.
This is a lifestyle change, not an overnight fad!
Every change you make towards eating clean is a positive change and, gradually, your body will get more and more used to the clean lifestyle.
After a while it will become second nature how to eat healthy and you will feel awesome.
8 Guidelines for How to Eat Healthy Summarized:
- Cook your own food
- Avoid processed foods
- Read labels
- Limit added sugars
- Eat real food
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Eat whole grains
- Eat grass-fed beef and free range chicken & eggs
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