I’m vegan. I’m almost vegan. I’m pescatarian. I’m gluten-free. More and more, it seems, we are defining ourselves by our dietary preferences. Thanksgiving dinner in my house has become an odd smorgasbord of labeled dishes, each suited to meet the individual dietary needs of my family and friends. Here gluten-free stuffing; there vegan mashed potatoes; everywhere food-stained signs guiding our options. The core message that comes from this often quite humorous, logistically challenging attempt at giving thanks is that we increasingly care about our food choices and how they affect our health.
We are a society on-the-go, and too often neglect doing the right thing for our health and wellness, which is to work towards a lifestyle of eating smarter and “cleaner.” Does it mean becoming a vegan, one who avoids all animal products? It can for some, however, “clean eating” simply means eating whole, natural, unprocessed, primarily plant–based foods: fruits, vegetables, and lean, low-order proteins. While this may not always be easy at first, a gradual approach of cleansing and detoxifying with fresh leafy greens, herbs, fruits, and drinking liters of water will ease your body into the direction of greater health and longevity. You will see noticeable changes in your skin, weight, and overall vitality.
What we eat provides the raw materials to create energy at a cellular level. The food we eat, how well we digest, assimilate, absorb and eliminate waste is reflected in our skin health and energy levels. Most people have no idea how good our bodies are designed to feel!
4 Steps to Clean Eating – It’s Easier Than You Think
- Consider Your Protein Sources
Choose low-order proteins such as chicken, salmon, and wild-caught fish. Red meat has been shown to increase the risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Adding small portions of wild-caught salmon can ensure you get those Omega-3 fats that are so essential for your cardiovascular health.
- Get Out Your Blender
Start your day blending a smoothie with a plant-based protein powder. Mix it up! Brown rice, hemp, and pea, are among the many varieties of protein shakes. Add your favorite fruits and veggies to your smoothie to give yourself a strong beginning to your day. Experiment with your shakes by adding different milks: Hemp, coconut, almond, rice, and soy are some examples of plant-based milk that are each so delicious and nutritious in smoothies.
- Eat Frequent, Small Meals
When you eat nutrient-dense foods in smaller amounts, at least six times per day, you will find it easier to maintain your weight and balance your blood sugar levels. We are conditioned to eat three square meals per day. Fresh veggies, nuts and seeds, fruit snacks, protein bars, and nut butters on celery or rice cakes are great ways to “graze” throughout the day and reduce insulin spikes, keeping your blood sugar levels at normal ranges.
- Experiment with a Variety of In-Season Vegetables
Make a point to shop at a local farmers’ market or health food store. You will be amazed at how many local foods you will find. There will be rare and exotic fruits and veggies that can energize your diet. If red potatoes and yellow, green, and red bell peppers are in season, a delicious potato salad with fresh dill may just be the recipe of choice. The more colors you see in your food, the more vitamins and minerals you will consume.
Before you know it, you will find that you have adopted this simple, new lifestyle of eating fresh, healthy and “clean” foods. You will notice so many positive changes to your body that going back to high saturated fats and processed, sugary foods will be in your past. Your skin will look clearer, you hair and nails will have a new luster to them, your eyes will be white and clear, and above all, you will find that your struggle with your extra pounds will be over.