Some Do’s and Don’ts When Starting With Clean Eating
If you are brand new to clean eating, you might be getting a little overwhelmed with all the information out there. There is a lot to learn, from what you can and can’t eat, to how much, how to read labels for ingredients, and when to exercise. Here is a simple list of some do’s and don’ts that will help you navigate this new healthy lifestyle.
First up, let’s talk about what you can do while you are clean eating. These are some easy tips and guidelines to live by to help make eating clean work best for you.
Eat Breakfast Daily – With clean eating, you want to have enough fuel to get you through the day, so make sure you are having breakfast each morning. Having a protein shake, smoothie, or oatmeal is totally fine. Just put something in your body within the first hour of waking.
Eat More Frequently, Smaller Meals – To keep your metabolism up and increase fat burning, eat smaller meals, but more frequently. Instead of three larger meals a day, split up your calories and other macros into 5-6 meals a day, including a snack or two.
Meal Prep and Plan – It is vital that you are fully prepared for anything that might come up, which starts with planning all meals and snacks.
Choose Natural Fruit Sources – Instead of having added sugar in your diet, go for natural sugar sources, like raw honey or fresh fruit.
There are also some common mistakes people tend to make while eating clean. Here are some of those important ‘don’ts’ to keep in mind.
Eat Packaged Foods – One of the simplest ways to eat cleaner is to avoid packaged and processed food. This means skipping all those bags of chips and crackers, packaged cookies, and processed carbs like white rice and white pasta. Stick to stuff you can make or bake from scratch.
Drink Empty Calories – There is no reason you should be drinking soft drinks and sugary fruit juice during the day. These are definitely not clean, have no nutritional value, and are just adding on the calories and fat you don’t need. Instead, stick to water, tea, some coffee, and juice you make at home.
Skip the Healthy Fats – While you want to avoid excessive amounts of fat like from butter, margarine, and red meat, other fats are healthy and can keep you full. Don’t forget to add in healthy fats like nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and avocados.
Meal Ideas for Your First Week for Clean Eating
As you go through your clean eating journey, you will begin adding more meals and snacks to the mix, but don’t make it difficult in the beginning. If you want to be successful and live a cleaner lifestyle, then it should start simple. Here are some meal ideas when you are just starting out with clean eating.
Components for a Balanced Clean Meal
Before getting into the meal ideas, it helps to know what to include in each of your meals and snacks. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks between meals, and any desserts you want to enjoy. For clean eating and to stay full, you want to be sure you have carbohydrates and protein with every meal. These together provide enough energy for your day and ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. You should also add some healthy fats to as many meals as you can.
Make Meal-Building Simple
If you are new to meal planning, here is a simple formula:
1 protein + 1 carbohydrate + 1 fruit or vegetable + 1 healthy fat
This can be adjusted as needed, but it is a good way to figure out your meals. For example, a very simple meal might include salmon (protein), brown rice (carb), broccoli (vegetable) and olive oil (fat) that was used to cook your salmon.
Use Ingredients More Than Once
Another tip that is going to help you with your first week’s worth of clean eating meals is to choose ingredients you can use more than once. This allows you to save money and simplifies both the grocery shopping and cooking processes. For example, you can get a whole rotisserie chicken that easily works for more than one meal, and buy your rice in bags and cook in larger batches to be used for multiple lunches and dinners.
Meal Ideas for the First Week
Now for some meal ideas. These are just a few easy ways to put breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. There are of course many other options.
Breakfast – Avocado and poached eggs on sourdough bread or just on their own.
Lunch – Chicken salad with greens, cooked chicken, veggies, and some vinaigrette as your fat.
Dinner – Chicken (same as used during lunch), quinoa, and some roasted asparagus.
In between these meals you may supplement with a handful of mixed plain nuts mid-morning and then banana/peanut butter as a mid afternoon snack.
I generally live a ‘clean eating’ lifestyle. I actually don’t necessarily see it as clean eating as it is just normal for me. Eating little and often and ensuring everything that I do decide to eat is adding some kind of nutritional benefit to my body.
However I also work on a 80/20 rule. I am generally good 80% of the time. I will eat and drink perfectly most of the week allowing myself maybe a meal or two or maybe a whole day at the weekend when I will be a little more relaxed. I won’t go crazy but will reward myself with some ‘naughty’ food and drink.
This is great for the mind and resets the body for the week ahead. When you do something well always give yourself a small reward.