How to Eat Clean: Creating a Diet that goes Back-to-Basics
Spring is a time of fresh flowers and spring cleaning. This year, why not extend that fresh and clean feeling to your diet? Sounds appealing, right? But where do you begin?
With this comprehensive guide, let’s cover what you need to know about how to have a healthy diet.
The Dos and Don’ts of an healthy diet
When we talk about a back-to-basics diet, it’s important to focus on foods that are designed to work for your body and help keep it healthy. These foods include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. These are the best foods for brain health and to fuel your body overall. If whole foods are what you should be consuming, highly processed snacks and sweets are what you should be reducing.
If you’re trying to learn how to eat healthy, then let’s talk about foods worth integrating into your diet, and those you should reduce as much as possible.
Foods to Focus On
The most important thing to remember is that getting back-to-basics in your day-to-day eating is a journey, not a destination. Your diet will vary, you can allow your creativity to influence your meal choices, and the “perfect” regimen changes from person to person.
When it comes to a healthy regimen, diet is one of the core components. Of course, there are also self care activities and practices as well as physical activity and mindfulness exercises (see our blog on how to meditate properly) that can help with your overall well being. At the end of the day though, your health starts with what you put in your body.
With that being said, the below are fantastic pillars you can use when you’re in the grocery store:
#1 Fruits and Vegetables
Looking for food groups that are low in fat and rich in nutrients? When it comes to eating healthy, fresh fruit and veggies are your go-to. The United States Department of Agriculture claims eating fruit and vegetables can be a great source of potassium, essential dietary fibers, vitamin C, vitamin A, and folic acid.
These essential nutrients—when integrated into a routine diet—can maintain healthy blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower risk of heart disease, repair body tissue, protect the skin, and even form new red blood cells in the body.
Here are some fruits and veggies recommended to add to your diet:
- Apples, bananas, blueberries, grapes, oranges, strawberries
- Avocados, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, onion, peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
#2 Lean Proteins
When we think of protein, we often default to meat. However, while meat can be a fantastic source of protein, it’s not the only food that has those qualities. Unlike some proteins (like red meat, for instance, which over time can affect the cardiovascular system), lean proteins may help strengthen your bones and muscles without negatively affecting heart health. They are also lower in fat and great for those with GI issues.
Some lean proteins you should lean towards consuming include:
- Dried beans
- Eggs from grain-fed chickens
- Fresh fish
- Grain-fed chickens
- Plain nut butter (no sugar added)
- Plain roasted nuts
#3 Healthy Fats
When it comes to food high in fat content, moderation is oftentime best. However, Mayo Clinic shares that the consumption of the right types of fats may improve heart health and lower cholesterol.
Although the healthy fat categories may sound complex, you’re likely already used to the food groups. For instance, consider adding the below to your diet:
- Canola oil and olive oil
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring
- Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), nuts, and other seeds (walnuts, butternuts, and chia seeds)
#4 Whole Grains
Eating whole grains may not be the first thing that comes to mind if you’re looking to lower your consumption of carb or sugar. However, it’s important not to completely omit grains from your meal planning. Why? Because whole grains are the caretakers of the colon because they contain dietary fibers. Given that a healthy gut needs at least 25 grams of fiber daily to function in the bestform, here are some examples of whole grains you can easily add to your diet:
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole-wheat bread
Foods to Forget
Now you know that fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains are the essential ingredients to a well-rounded diet. But what foods should you be forgoing? What types of food threaten the integrity of a healthy diet?
The following foods should be decreased to a minimum:
- Packaged foods and ultra processed food
- Foods that are heavy in salt and sugar.
Overcoming the Obstacles In Eating
It shouldn’t be a surprise that temptation can often hinder a back-to-basics eating regimen. From ice cream, snacks, to eating out, the vast circuit of convenient food options make it all-too-easy to make choices you wouldn’t make at home.
Additionally, when we’re not cashing in on delicious at the sacrifice of nutritious, the other pain point is affordability. Organic, all-natural ingredients can quickly become expensive when they’re part of your every month groceries. And, if you’re sticking to your diet while you’re eating out, quality food can have a sticker shock.
So how do you overcome these obstacles?
Intuitive Eating and Creating A Habit Out Of A Healthy Lifestyle
One of the ways to overcome “cheating” on your diet is by being mindful about what you’re eating. Intuitive eating is about listening to your body in order to better understand when you’re choosing the right food and the right volume. You should be mindful of what you put in your body.
To improve your chances of sticking to your good choices, here are some tips:
- Shutting out distractions (turning off your phone, the TV, etc.) while eating can help you become more aware of what you’re consuming. It’s easy to eat an entire jumbo bag of chips while watching TV because your focus isn’t the food itself—rather, the eating itself is secondary.
- Mindful eating also helps you discern whether you’re hungry or thirsty. Ensuring you’re drinking enough water throughout the day is part of intuitive eating and establishing healthy eating habits. Just because you feel hungry, doesn’t always mean you are. Sometimes, instead of a meal, drinking a tall glass of water is the best alternative.
But at the end of the day, eating is about listening to your body, your needs, and how you respond to your new diet. What works for someone else may not work for you, and vice versa. The key is to stay consistent with the quality of food you’re consuming, and finding ways to create a routine that fosters healthy eating habits.
Best Ways to Budget
Additionally, despite the difficulty of sticking to a routine, a healthy eating diet doesn’t always have to be costly. There are many ways to “shop healthy” and save money on groceries. To that end, here are some tips to save on food shopping:
- Buy what’s in season. When there’s a surplus of a specific fruit or vegetable, the price of that food item decreases because of the abundance. If you can, buy extra of what’s in season to freeze for later in the year.
- Look at every shelf when shopping. Some supermarkets will fill their eye-level shelves with pricier items to generate higher sales. Exploring the different levels of shelving in each aisle may provide similar products for a cheaper price.
- Plan what you’re going to buy before you start making purchases. Make a food list and use what you’ve learned to limit your shopping. Refraining from unnecessary purchases is an excellent practice in self-control.
- Cook at home. Meal prepping (and buying in bulk) is a fantastic way to stick to your diet, mitigate the costs of eating out, and plan your week.
- Check out local farmer’s markets. Farmer’s markets may sell fruits, vegetables, unprocessed snacks, and fish at cheaper prices than franchise grocery stores.
Bio-K+®, Championing Your Wellness Routine
Clean eating is a fantastic practice. It can bolster your health, improve your quality of life, and contribute to your overall well-being. Here at Bio-K+®, our probiotics are a fantastic complement to your healthy lifestyle. They’re formulated to promote digestive and immune health, which will only be further supported by your dietary choices.
From capsules to drinkables, our products can help support your new wellness journey.
With spring right around the corner, let your health bloom in tandem with the flowers. And if you’re looking to add a probiotic to your clean eating diet, you’re in the right place.
Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Minute: Mindfulness while eating https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-mindfulness-while-eating/
Mayo Clinic. What does it mean to eat clean? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/what-does-it-mean-to-eat-clean/art-20270125
Mayo Clinic. Clean eating: What does that mean? https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/clean-eating-what-does-that-mean
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Heart-Healthy Eating on a Budget. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/heart-healthy-eating-on-a-budget
Johns Hopkins Medicine. 5 Foods to Improve Your Digestion. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-foods-to-improve-your-digestion
Mayo Clinic. 12 tips to tame stress. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relievers/art-20047257
Mayo Clinic. Learn the facts about fats. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550
Mayo Clinic. The whole truth about whole grains. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/whole-grains/art-20047826
USDA. Why is it Important to Eat Fruit? https://food.unl.edu/NEP/NEP%20Documents/Fruit%20Group.pdf