If you want to lose some weight then following a healthy eating plan is a good start, but allowing someone else to dictate exactly what, when and how much you can eat is crazy making. Guidance is good but ultimately you must learn to make better choices in your eating which leads to your gaining the ability to maintain your new shape after the weight has been lost. The Clean Diet is the answer.
What is the Clean Diet?
The Clean Diet means different things to different people. My version is less strict than some because frankly I’m not a competitive body builder and I don’t have a modeling contract. Unless you must maintain a specific body weight (as actors sometimes do for instance), you probably are of the same mind as I; that being, I want to lead a basically normal life. Eating out sometimes, enjoying parties sometimes, and generally not feeling like I have to “watch what I eat” or suffer the consequences. The way I eat is sometimes called the non-dieting approach because I don’t diet, but I do pay attention. That’s what the Clean Diet means: paying attention to what you’re eating.
What Can I Eat on The Clean Diet?
Vegetables: Enjoy unlimited raw, steam, baked. Go for it. I don’t know anyone who got fat because they ate too many vegetables and that includes carrots, beans, corn and potatoes. Unless you are allergic, there is no reason to shun fresh vegetables. Yes they contain carbohydrates. Get over it. Wean yourself from sauces, and learn to like them without added butter or salt. Vegetables like carrots and beets for instance are very high in natural sugars (that’s the point — nature intended to give you sweet things whereby you’d WANT to eat them and would consequently get adequate Vitamin C among other things).
Fruit: Try to eat at least one or two pieces a day. More is fine. There is no reason to restrict yourself to one-quarter of a cantaloupe or 1 small apple. Who comes up with these rules anyway? An apple contains less than 100 calories. That’s not exactly going to break the diet bank, is it? Eat all the fresh fruit you like, especially late at night if you’re working on learning to give up your chips or cookies habit. Apples are great for snacking, as are grapes, bananas, kiwi or anything else you like. Try to eat mostly fresh fruit, and saved canned fruits for once in awhile.
Dried fruits such as raisins are a super concentrated food source and should be treated with respect. A few thrown on your morning cereal or in your trail mix is fine, but remember super concentrated food is also high calorie food. You don’t need a lot to get the nutrients. Learn the difference between densely packed nutrients and loosely packed nutrients. Fresh fruit is loosely packed, high in water content, and dried fruit is dense with little or no water. Corn-on-the-cob is loose, corn syrup is dense (and processed too).
An ounce of raisins contains 85 calories and 201 mg of Potassium, while an ounce of fresh grapes is a mere 20 calories. You’d need four times the fresh grapes to equal the dried.
Clean foods are as close to their natural state as possible without being fanatical about it. There is a world of difference between a baked potato and a bowlful of potato chips. One is a good source of nutrients and one is a highly refined, richly saturated fat, greasy, salty, modified source of nothing but smears on your napkin. One is satisfying and one leaves you wanting more. Betcha can’t eat just one was more than a catch phrase for Lay’s Potato Chips. It’s a truism.
Grains & Beans: Whole grains like whole wheat, rice, millet, barley, and others. Drop the habit to eat chips and crackers out of a box. Once in awhile is okay, but if you eat them regularly, then you need to make a modification. Cakes, crackers and the like are simply not good for everyday fare, if you want to reach a healthy bodyweight. Once in awhile, or special occasions is fine, just not every day. Not even every other day. Once a week is plenty, and if you can’t commit to weaning yourself off those foods, then you need to adjust to living with a higher body weight. It’s not a character flaw, but it is a fact you must face. What you eat, dictates how healthy you will be, both mind and body.
Whole grain means whole grain. Bread that lists whole wheat is not 100% whole grain. Watch out. Seeing Whole Wheat on the package means nothing. You want to see either 100% Whole Wheat or 100% Whole Grain. Brown bread is not always whole grain, but it may be brown because some molasses was added to color it brown. Whole grain breads are heavier, more dense, chewier. I think they are better. You might not share that belief, especially if you’re used to the light and fluffy white bread. When I was a teenager I could easily eat 10 slices of white bread french toast and still not feel satisfied. How ridiculous is that? I could, on the other hand, eat about three pieces of whole grain bread french toast and that was enough.
Isn’t Brown Bread Better for You?
Many people think if it is brown it is healthier, but it is not true. If it is whole grain it is better than refined, but that isn’t licence to eat lots of bread. A sandwich now and then is just fine, thank you. The best breads are heavy. Think of being a peasant sitting around a fire cooking a thick soup. What kind of bread would be best to sop it up? Some lame white bread that would disintegrate if liquid touched it, or a thick, hearty brown bread that could serve as a staple if need be? I’ll take the second.
My favorite thing to eat is brown rice with stuff. “Stuff” means any vegetable concoction, or sauce, or just something to sort of mix in there. Use a little oil, preferably olive or sesame for flavor. My favorite quick vegetable is steamed sliced carrots and onions. Both onions and carrots are naturally sweet and ultra delicious all by themselves. Once you learn to simply eat foods the way nature presents them, you’ll find your appetite stays more in line with better health.
I didn’t intend to create a food rule book. My intention is to point out that you need not live on a skimpy portion of grains like 1/2 cup of oatmeal with 1/4 cup skimmed milk and a half a slice of dry toast for breakfast. Eat hearty. I’m an example of how hearty eating will enhance your health, and bring your weight into line, not the opposite. I’ll have one or two cups of oatmeal with raisins and a sprinkle of brown sugar (it won’t kill you) or if you’ve grown used to it, no sweetener at all. Use milk if you like, or soy milk.
Lean Meats, Chicken, Fish: Support your local butcher and farmer. When you buy your meat from a local butcher you can be assured you are getting the best available. Okay, it costs more than the grocery store brand. If you want the best, buy the best. Avoid farm bred fish at all costs. Simply ask your meat counter to stock fresh fish.
Desserts, Treats & Snacks: It’s okay to eat these things, but practice moderation. If you can’t do that, and think you’ll eat the whole bag, then don’t get them when you’re alone. Share some with someone else. Buy the smaller size package. Do whatever it takes, but don’t tell yourself you can never eat any certain food again, because that just makes it all the more difficult to handle it when the time comes.
The Clean Diet is More a Way of Life than a Strict Set of Eating Rules
Most people will allow themselves one or more “cheat days” every week. The best plan is simply to choose eating clean as your primary eating style, and when you don’t you don’t but every meal stands alone. If you over ate at breakfast, you just eat your usual lunch. You don’t try to “make up for it” by skimping on lunch. That’s an equation that will never work. Just eat normally, and when you occasionally overeat, so be it. That way, rather than always thinking in terms of, “I’ll start my diet again next Monday,” you just get right back on your plan. While no foods are forbidden on a clean eating plan, common sense rules the day.
See if eating a Clean Diet might work for you. Start by adding more fresh fruit, and a few vegetables. Buy frozen vegetables and add them to your other foods, such as when you eat a frozen meal for instance. If you want chips with your sandwich, take a handful (and a half, if you want) and put it on your plate, rather than bringing the whole bag of chips to the table. Decide in advance how many cookies you’ll have. Will four be enough, how about five? It’s still better than half a bag. Take it one day at a time, one meal at a time, and you’ll find things happening in no time.