Here are some tips for healthy/clean that I try to live by. I don't like to call them rules (I think it's easier to break them if you call them rules lol) they are more guidelines.
1. Swap out refined grains for 100% whole grains - i.e. instead of white bread/noodles/flour/rice buy 100 % whole wheat. Make sure you read the ingredient list on the back!
Do not just look at the front and trust what they claim. A lot of
"whole" grain foods are actually a combo of whole grains and refined
2. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup like the plague!!!
HFCS is not a whole natural food - it is a product of chemical
processing. It is not just used as a sweetener in your foods, it is also
put in about 80% of your processed food that you eat everyday - as a preservative.
For instance, take your regular plain white bread, normally, if you
make it at home, you would not need to add sugar. However, in processed
white bread, HFCS is added as a preservative - makes it stay nice and
white and fluffy for a few more days, and has an added benefit of making
it a bit sweeter, therefore, making you crave it more. In the end, it's
just plain bad for you - it contributes to obesity, diabetes, increase
in bad cholesterol, and possibly ADD/ADHD - stay away! Here is a good article high-lighting some more reasons to avoid it.
3. "Eat junk food as long as you cook it yourself!" Michael Pollen. If you have to make it yourself instead of just opening up a bag - it is very likely that you will not eat it nearly as often, and it will not have all the preservatives of the processed version.
4. Eat organic/local foods - simple rule to eat by - if you eat the skin go organic. Here is my page on 6 reasons to go organic - Going Organic
5. Watch out for sugar/sweeteners.
There are over 40 types of sugar used in processed foods today - here are just a
few that you may not recognize as sweeteners - barley malt, beet sugar,
brown rice syrup, cane juice, corn sweetener, dextrin, dextrose,
fructose-oligosaccharides, glucose, sucrose, poly dextrose. And
remember, just because it's organic, it doesn't necessarily mean that
it's good for you! There is a lot of organic baked goods that have a lot
of sugar, and just because it's organic - it's still sugar. Some
natural sweeteners that you can use to replace sugar are honey, agave,
and maple syrup.
6. You can eat healthy on a budget! It is way
cheaper to make certain food verses buying the prepackaged version!
Here are just a few, 100% whole wheat tortillas, 100% whole wheat
muffins/biscuits/rolls, granola, granola bars, crackers, BBQ sauce,
fruit spread (jelly), spaghetti sauce, chicken/beef stock, and salad
dressings. You will be spending a bit more on your organic foods, but
saving by making these at home! To save even more - make your own natural household cleaners! These are better for you home/environment and cheaper.
7. Use "smart" fats! Not
all fats are bad - for instance choose extra virgin olive oil (EEVO)
over butter - unsaturated fat over saturated fat. Always use in
moderation though - too much of a good thing can still be a bad thing!
8. Eat lean meats like fish and poultry. Only eat red meats like beef, once a week. Red meat is known to be high in fat content and is linked to cardiovascular disease - you do not need to cut it completely out of your diet, it is a good source of protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins - just limit how much you eat.
9. Load up on greens! Greens like spinich, kale, collard greens and any other bright green leafy leaves are "free" calories and heavy on nutrients.
10. Divide and conquer. Use the plate guide - half will be your veggies/fruit, 1/3 meat, 1/3 whole grains, with some dairy on the side.
11. Follow the Pleasure Diet. Eat mindfully and slowly - enjoy your food!
12. Healthy snacking - A good snack will be 200 calories or less and include some fiber and protein. Some good options are - nuts, 1 tbsp peanut butter with 100% whole wheat bread or crackers, veggies with hummus dip, air popped popcorn with parmesan cheese, cottage cheese with fruit, and a fruit smoothie with yogurt.
13. Drink LOTS of water!
14. Eat a rainbow! The more colorful your veggies are = more nutrients.
15. Craving chocolate? Eat organic dark chocolate! Dark chocolate is known to be mood-enhancing, heart healthy, and full of antioxidents - isn't this awesome news?! Bring on the dark chocolate!
16. Look for lighter versions of your favorite comfort foods. For instance, oven-fried instead of on stove-top, 100% whole wheat flour/noodles instead of enriched white, EEVO (extra virgin olive oil) replacing butter, and loading up on veggies = less noodles. Do a Google search on making your favorite meals lighter - there is a lot of good resources out there!
17. You are not a dog. Don't reward yourself with food! Choose something that's not food to reward yourself with, like a mani/pedi, or a long hot bath, or whatever will make you feel good about yourself!
18. This tip is more of a reason to jump-start and stick with healthy/clean eating - "80% of what you look like is due to what you are eating." Shocking right?!
19. Eat plant foods as sources of protein. Examples are soybeans, pinto beans, black beans, lentils, and nuts. Not all the time - for example, do meatless Mondays - make spaghetti with lentils instead of ground meat.
20. Eat breakfast! Your breakfast should be about 300-400 calories and include lean protein, carbs and fiber. This will jump-start your metabolism, keep you feeling full so you don't binge on a mid-morning sugary snack, and give you energy. Some good choices would be eggs with 100% whole wheat toast and 100% fruit juice, or oatmeal with berries and low-fat milk.
Note: I am not a dietician or nutritionist - these tips are simply what worked for my hubby and I.