Making changes to your diet can be an intimidating process. With so much information floating on the web telling to you what to eat and what to avoid, it can seem daunting thinking about all the different foods you’ll need to buy and everything in your pantry you need to toss. Even just incorporating kale into your diet can seem like struggle enough.
Completely overhauling your diet in one step is nearly impossible, and frankly not recommended. Making the transition to whole, unprocessed foods is something that takes time and requires a permanent change in habits. Instead of trying to adopt a brand new diet in a day, try starting off small and building from there. Beginning with these 10 simple changes can help introduce you to clean eating while making healthy eating seem a bit more manageable.
Stick to ingredients you can see and pronounce
If you are eating a snack bar that contains five ingredients you have never heard of, that isn’t usually a good thing,” says nutrition consultant Erin Palinski-Wade, RD. “Look for options where the ingredients are actually recognizable.” Weeding out unnecessary additives and chemicals is the first step in cleaning up your diet.
Drink plenty of water
“Not only can staying hydrated help to squash cravings, but it can also help to flush toxins from the body and beat bloat associated with consuming processed foods,” says Palinsk-Wade. Water can help keep you energized throughout the day and makes you less likely to reach for other foods that provide a temporary energy boost but result in a crash, like sugar or refined carbohydrates.
Customize your restaurant orders
Just because the menu has it prepared one way doesn’t mean your entree is set in stone, and many restaurants have no problem making modifications. “If it comes with a side of fries, opt for a salad,” says certified holistic health coach Annie Lawless. “If the fish is fried, asked for it to be baked. Small changes such as these are significant in the long run!”
Spice up your life
Instead of dumping salt and butter on your food, try using different spices to boost your dish’s flavors. “Flavor your food naturally with seasonings and spices such as garlic, rosemary, and turmeric to avoid processed flavoring options,” says Palinski-Wade. Play around with different flavors to see what you like, and stay away from fattening and high-sodium sauces and toppings.
Stick to black coffee
Coffee can be a great source of antioxidants and help prevent diseases down the line, but if you’re loading your drink up with syrups and cream, you actually end up not only harming your waistline, but your overall mental and physical health as well. “Drink your coffee dark, without all of the sugary stuff that make it worse than soda,” says Lawless. “Enjoy the flavor of simple coffee.”
Make your own dressing
Skip the dressing packets and opt for simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzle to keep your salads fresh and healthy. “Pre-made salad dressings can be a nightmare,” says Lawless. “Cut the preservatives and sugars by making your own.” Olive oil provides a heart-healthy fat that actually helps absorb various vitamins found in your leafy greens.
Always incorporate a healthy protein
“Proteins help to regulate appetite, helping to fight against cravings that can lead to less healthy, processed food choices,” says Palinski-Wade. Good proteins in their whole form include wild- caught fish, lean poultry such as chicken breast, eggs, and cottage cheese.
Fill up your plate with veggies
Many people who struggle with clean eating typically don’t eat enough vegetables. “One easy strategy is to fill your plate half way with vegetables at each meal,” says Palinski-Wade. “Fresh or frozen, these unprocessed plant-based options provide you with a rich source of fiber and antioxidants.”
Develop an eating schedule
Planning ahead can help you make the healthiest choice possible, especially when it comes to preparing food at home rather than going out. “Eating on the run or on a whim can lead to grabbing whatever is around versus making an informed, healthy choice,” says Palinski-Wade.
Always eat breakfast
“Always start off the day with a healthy wholesome breakfast,” says Lawless.. “It keeps you going and motivated the rest of the day.” if you’re in a rush in the morning, take a bowl of cut up fruit and almonds, or throw fruits and veggies in a blender to make a drinkable meal. Starting the day off right will keep you motivated to continue to stay on track.