Top 5 Clean Eating Tips to Jumpstart Healthy Living
A few years ago, I began my journey of clean eating and I haven’t looked back. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve stumbled along the way, but over time I watched my cravings shift and significantly improved my relationship with food.
I started paying attention to food labels, diving into supplements, getting a job at a supplement and functional foods company in the natural products industry, and focused on a ton of self-education on what should and shouldn’t be on my plate.
I’m a firm believer in the short and long-term benefits of eating clean for both my physical and spiritual health. 1 Corinthians 6:16-20 MSG lays it out the best: “The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. Gods owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through our body.” My commitment to eating clean is rooted in a desire honor my body so that I’m strong, healthy and ready to accomplish all God has called me to.
I’m frequently asked by friends and family, “What are a few small steps that I can take tomorrow to kick start a stronger, healthier me?” Here’s my go-to Top Five Healthy Eating Hacks. Trust me, I’ve got dozens - but let’s start here!
1. Don’t ditch fat, but monitor the type of fat you allow into your diet.
First things first, go check your pantry and see what types of cooking oils you’ve got inside. Do you see vegetable, canola, crisco, corn and any combination of the three? If so, say your goodbyes and toss them. My first suggestion is to invest in cooking oils like coconut, avocado or olive oil. You’re right. They are a little pricier, but remember, this is a long-term investment in your health. What I love about coconut and avocado oil is their high smoke point. That means you can use them for frying and baking. My preference is coconut oil, because it isn't stored as fat in the body. It boosts energy, can improve brain function and is anti-inflammatory.
Outside of cooking oils, I look for ways to consume foods packed with healthy fats and try to get a serving with each meal. I usually opt for avocados, salmon and nuts like walnuts or almonds. For all the coffee fans out there, a quick and easy way to get some healthy fats into you diet is to mix 1 tbsp of coconut oil into your coffee. A little skeptical about the coffee trick? Just Google bullet proof coffee, trust me!
2. It’s not just about what you eat, it’s about what you drink!
My #1 piece of advice for anyone looking to eat clean is to stop drinking soda regularly and increase your water consumption.
For a lot of us, our first instinct in the morning is to grab a cup of coffee or anything with high amounts of caffeine. But, there’s actually a better way to start the day and that includes drinking water. Take it from Cameron Diaz, who chugs water first thing in the am. Kick-starting your day with water activates your organs, digestion and hydrates you.
Quick drink checklist:
· Not a fan on plain, old water? Make infused water with fresh fruit, cucumber slices or herbs like mint or rosemary. I love mint and cucumber together.
· Monitor what sugary beverages you drink like soda, juice or lattes and replace them with something less sweet. On top of that, steer clear from artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose. Zevia and La Croix are great alternatives for folks looking for carbonation and great flavor without all the sugar.
· Drink at least one cup of green tea a day instead of that second or third cup of coffee.
· Want something creamy and delicious instead of a sugar bomb latte? Try Gaia Herbs Golden Milk with coconut or soy milk. It’s golden, heavenly goodness in a mug with tons of great herbs like turmeric.
3. Snack smart.
I’ve always been a fan of snacking. In fact, at work I’m the go-to "snack lady" who is always on top of the latest snack trends. I was recently at the Natural Products Expo, and here are a few of the cleanest and tastiest snacks I found.
· Graze has an excellent selection of single-serving sweet and salty snack combos. I love the Sweet Rhubarb Jam and Sweet Memphis Barbeque.
· Matt Munchies, in my opinion, is one of the best fruit snack options. I prefer the Island Mango, plus it has less than 100 calories.
· Epic has great jerky options like bison, beef, chicken or salmon. The beef and bison are 100% grass-fed and organic.
· Lately I’ve been a fan of the Caveman Bars. The Dark Chocolate Almond is my absolute fave.
· Yum Earth is my go-to brand for candy because I’m not a monster and I don’t think it’s realistic to completely ditch sweets. If I’m headed out to the movies with friends, then I’ll grab a pack of their organic sour twists. Their snacks are vegan, dye-free, non-GMO and absolutely no high fructose corn syrup.
I order snacks in bulk on Amazon so I never get stuck in a bind without something healthy to munch on. The last thing I need to do is get hangry driving home from work.
4. Fish Oil.
I could go on and on about the importance of Omega-3s. In case you’re unfamiliar, Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that we need everyday for the rest of our lives. Our bodies can’t produce them on our own, so we’ve got to get them from food or supplements. It’s always at the top of my list for what type of supplements to start with. In a nutshell, omega-3s help reduce inflammation in our bodies and support our hair, skin and nails.
I might be a little biased on the brand I prefer (I work for Barlean’s and one of our products is fish oil). But, here are my two recommendations.
· Fish oil that is seriously delicious, and comes in flavors like Mango Peach or Key Lime (with no fishy burps!)
· Fish Oil Softgels from Nordic Naturals
5. Oh, fiber.
5. Oh, fiber.
You’re not the sexiest of nutritional topics, but arguably one of the most important. And, no, it’s not just for people over 50. It’s something we all need to be thinking about. Fiber moves stuff through our digestive tract so we're not holding on to it longer than we need to. It can also help with weight loss, because it leaves you feeling fuller longer.
We need between 20-35 grams a day. I recommended keeping a daily journal to see how much fiber you are consuming. If the numbers aren’t adding up, start by adding high-fiber foods into your diet like berries, beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes or brussel sprouts.
Alright, there you have it. My top five clean eating tips to get the ball rolling. As always, I’m not a certified nutritionist or a doctor (just a health food enthusiast with a passion to spread the healthy living love), so if you have serious questions about your health and what’s right for you please speak to your health care professional. Enjoy!