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by Collin Stark May 24, 2022 7 min read

When it comes to health, nutrition, and fitness goals...

People like to throw around the term "clean eating."

But what does clean eating really mean?

“Can I still eat food that I enjoy?”

“How am I going to sustain eating like this?”

I get it, clean eating can be intimidating. But, if you can do the right prep and keep the momentum going...

Your meals can be more nutritious, more balanced, and give you way more energy. Clean eating can truly help you look and feel your best!

What Is Clean Eating?

First, let's talk about what it isn't. Clean eating doesn't mean you can only eat chicken and broccoli for every meal.

It's not washing your food with soap either. 😄

It's all about the quality and purity of real food in your diet, and understanding what foods and nutrients your body needs.

Our bodies need certain nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, to function optimally. Now, foods aren’t necessarily good vs bad, healthy vs unhealthy, or even clean vs unclean.

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Some are just more nutrient-dense than others, meaning they contain more vitamins and minerals.

That's unlike processed food, which often lacks those high-quality and nutritious ingredients.

Plus, processed foods are typically more “calorie-dense.” This just means they contain extra energy your body has to use, or it may store as unwanted fat.

So, when you hear someone talk about a “clean diet”, they are talking about minimally-processed foods.

Think of things outside of a package or box that will not last on a shelf or in a freezer for years.

What are the challenges most people struggle with when it comes to eating clean? Time, money, and effort.

Whole, unprocessed foods take more time and planning to eat regularly. They just don’t seem as “convenient”, unlike processed food which is so easily accessible.

But don't get discouraged! "Clean eating" or limiting processed foods is totally possible.

All you need is the right approach. You'll find out that eating clean is just as convenient and delicious as the processed foods we know and love.

Plus, the benefits of clean eating far outweigh the downsides.

A clean diet isn’t only about looking a certain way … it’s about how you feel — physically, mentally, and in all areas of life!

You’ll notice improved gut and immune health, more energy and strength, better sleep … the list just goes on and on!

Before we get into some tips, these are general recommendations that can help you with living a healthier lifestyle. They can also help you reach your fitness goals! Here they are...

9 Tips on How to Eat Clean

1. Fill Up With Fruits and Veggies

Whole fruits and vegetables are a great source of the many nutrients that our bodies need. They are a great source of fiber, minerals, vitamins and much more.

Plus, people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables can be less likely to deal with serious health conditions. These can include diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

Ideally, you’ll want to go for organic produce because it hasn't been distributed with pesticide exposure.

Don’t worry if that’s not an option! Fresh produce, frozen, and even canned is better than not including them at all.

Try to add fruits and vegetables to each of your meals throughout the day.  When you feel like snacking, try munching on veggies or enjoying the natural sugars from fruits.

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The best part about adding in fruits and vegetables to your diet, you get to eat more of them, for less calories too.

Who doesn’t like to eat more!?

They add volume as well, which can help you feel fuller and satisfied for longer.

2. Avoid Packaged Foods

I know … it’s so easy to pop something in the microwave for dinner...

But packaged foods are among the worst kinds of processed food.

And the more you eat them, the harder it is to regularly eat cleaner/more wholesome foods.

It can take a little discipline, but it’s worth training your brain to crave better, healthier foods.

3. Plan Ahead and Thank Yourself Later

If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

Better eating starts before you even enter the store.

It’s so easy to grab that package of cookies or pick out something from the freezer section on your way to check out.

Instead, make a menu at the beginning of the week, and then make a grocery list based on that menu. Then when you’re at the store, just stick with the list.

The same goes for your day.

Plan out what your meals and/or snacks will look like, so you can keep on track with your goals.

4. Prepping is the Name of the Game

Fresh produce is so good for us, but what's the one thing it isn’t?

Convenient.

Cooking your balanced meals daily is time-consuming and even tiring.

One of the best ways to work past this hurdle is by prepping your food.

If it isn’t easy to grab, especially when it comes to snacking, we tend to go for something even easier.

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This oftentimes means something that doesn’t necessarily align with our goals.

When you get home, rinse and chop up your fruits and veggies.

When you're done, put them in the fridge in clear containers.

That way, they'll be easy to see and grab for quick snacks.

If you’re busy during the week with work, kids, or other responsibilities … do your meal prep on the weekend!

You can put together colorful salads, healthy pasta dishes, and more!

You can even season and cook your chicken all at once, then use it for your lunches and dinners that week.

There are all kinds of creative ways to prepare your food in advance.

Then, you can enjoy your clean, healthy food without overworking yourself every day.

5. Find Some Go-To Recipes That You Love

Just because you're eating clean doesn’t mean your food should be bland!

Find a couple of recipes that you love! Just make sure that they include fresh ingredients and balanced nutrients.

Once you master these recipes, you can start expanding.

At least this way, you can look forward to your meals and keep it interesting.

There's nothing worse than getting bored on a meal plan. So don't!

There are hundreds of recipes online, and so many of them are designed for a healthy lifestyle.

The right recipes can make clean eating much tastier, and could be the difference between whether you stick to clean eating or not.

Why not take some of your favorite foods, meals, or family recipes and try recreating a healthier version of them?

That way, you can still get all the taste, without all the extra calories.

It's a win, win!

You can try substituting some foods with a vegetable version. For instance, some people make or purchase veggie noodles instead of pasta as an easy substitute.

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6. Try Whole Grain

Despite what some people say, grains aren’t terrible for you. Whole grain bread and pasta can be a great alternative to processed grains.

You can also find some delicious recipes for quinoa, wild rice, oats, and other whole grains.

Try avoiding or limiting refined carbs and grains. Also, be wary of packaging that claims to be “whole grain.”

Not everything is as "clean" as it claims to be … so double-check the ingredients.

7. Read the Labels

Make sure you read labels on the food you’re buying and look for red flags.

Sometimes things that are “fat free” are actually loaded with sugar.

"High protein” is also relative, so it may not actually be a good amount of protein.

Plus, just because someone views something as “healthy” or “clean”, doesn't mean the calories from that food will align well with their goals.

8. Incorporate Nutritious Supplements

The best source of your nutrients is always going to be whole foods.

Sometimes though, it’s hard to get all the nutrients you need, especially if you’re on a strict diet or workout program.

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Supplements can help give you the extra boost you need.

Whether it's adding in extra greens to your smoothies or more protein to your diet, supplements are designed to help fill in the gaps.

They make it much easier to stick to your plan by making things convenient.

But just like not all food is created equal, neither are supplements. So, make sure you find a product that is high quality and fits your nutritional needs.

Use supplements that have proven benefits and transparent processing and ingredients.

9. Be Willing to Fail

At some point, all of us fail.

No one is perfect…

If you indulge yourself occasionally with a special treat or snack, it’s not the end of the world.

What is damaging though ... is refusing to try again or limiting those snacks because you feel discouraged.

Food and health are all about balance, it’s a lifestyle.

The longer you incorporate a diet that aligns with your goals, the more likely it’s going to stick.

Most people love the way they feel once they really commit to eating cleaner.

Sometimes, so much so that they don't even crave packaged and processed foods as much!

Wherever you are on your journey to eating cleaner, embrace it. You just have to figure out how you’re going to do better just for this week.

It's not that you can't enjoy the foods you love ... you just have to learn to enjoy them in moderation.

Then, choose whole, unprocessed foods as your everyday foods.

Once you’ve got a routine in place, good clean eating habits are going to be second-nature.

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Start Eating Clean Today

Ready to get started!? You don’t have to figure it out on your own!

The 1st Phorm App has all sorts of resources for you. That includes custom meal planning, one-on-one support, fitness challenges, workouts, and more!

It's all designed to help you stick with your health goals and turn them into a sustainable lifestyle.

Download the 1st Phorm App to start eating better consistently! What are you waiting for!?

Collin Stark
Collin Stark

NASM Certified Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist NASM Certified Nutrition Coach