Registered Dietitian on How to Start Eating Clean
Switching to a cleaner eating routine isn’t about jumping on a fad diet. Instead, it’s about creating a healthier lifestyle that focuses on paying attention to what you put in your body and learning about your relationship with food. It can sound daunting, but transitioning to clean eating doesn’t have to be done in one big move.
“As with any lifestyle change, make adjustments in stages,” said Stephanie Atkinson, registered dietitian at Bailey Medical Center.
Making a huge change, like going from a daily soda to none will likely make you miserable and result in failure. Start by making little switches. Go from cream and sugar in your coffee to just almond milk. Eat carrots and hummus for a snack instead of chips. You will soon realize you have less cravings for sugar and fattening things if you rarely eat them or avoid them altogether.
A big area of cleaning up your eating act is avoiding processed foods in favor of whole foods. Start making alternative choices in one area and then move to another.
“Begin replacing processed snacks with whole foods,” Atkinson said. “As you feel comfortable with your variety of snacks, move on to a meal, such as dinner, adding whole foods. Find recipes to replace boxed items.”
It is significantly easier to control what you eat when you are eating meals you have prepared. Make meals a breeze by meal prepping. If you have your lunches already prepared you’ll be less likely to choose junk. When grocery shopping for meal prep it’s important to pay close attention to nutrition labels. A good rule of thumb is to choose items that contain a small number of ingredients and no preservatives. Also be on the lookout for additives such as salt and sugar.
As with any lifestyle change, you may slip up. Do not give up on making positive changes if you have fast food for lunch one day. It’s OK if you make unhealthy choices as long as you move forward making better choices.
It’s a great idea to consult your physician before making any changes to your eating routine. They can answer any questions you may have and make sure you are focused on eating a balanced diet.