Modern food is… strange. Packaged food is heavily laden with all sorts of additives to improve their flavor, texture, look and shelf-life. Even produce is frequently treated with chemicals to help it ripen faster, hold a certain appealing luster and stay fresh longer. While some people find these modern techniques to be incredibly useful advancements, many more think it’s just plan weird.
Not only can these “advancements” be a little off-putting, some experts worry that they could be doing more harm than good. For example, common emulsifiers used in foods have been linked with obesity, diabetes and digestive issues. Artificial sweeteners have likewise been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
In response to these – and other – concerns, many people have adopted a “clean eating” style that limits or totally eliminates processed foods in their diets. How can you, personally, clean up your diet? Here are five steps to get you started.
- Start Slow – People are all willing to go to varying degrees of cleanliness in their efforts to eat better. For some, simply limiting the amount of prepackaged foods they eat is enough. Others, though, go completely organic and/or local with everything in their diet. Even if you are willing to swim in the deep end of the clean eating pool, it’s best to start out slow. Heavily restricting your diet too quickly can be discouraging and ultimately lead to failure. Decide what you’re willing to do and even consider setting dietary goals for yourself. For example, you may want to cut out soda. Rather than going cold-turkey, it’s probably better to try to cut out one of the sugary drinks each week.
- Follow the 80/20 Rule – Very closely related to the idea of starting out slow, is the principle of 80/20. This concept states that 80 percent of the time you eat clean, with a 20 percent margin of error. Essentially, this gives you a buffer for when you’re on vacation or at a friend’s house and simply cannot eat clean.
- Cook At Home – You’d be surprised at the kind of additives – including extra sugar, salt and fat – that restaurants pack into their foods. And this isn’t just restricted to fast food joints; most eateries are guilty of using food that is not strictly “clean.” Take control of what goes into your body by preparing your own meals.
- Stick to the Perimeter – Most grocery stores are set up in the same basic way – with the whole foods on the outside and the packaged stuff in the middle isles. Shopping these outer portions will automatically limit you to fruits, vegetables and minimally processed meats.
- Learn to Read the Labels – Not everything that comes in a package is inherently bad for you. At the same time, not everything labelled “all natural” is automatically good for you. Instead of judging your food by the packaging and trusting marketing tactics, learn to read the labels for yourself. Whole foods, like fruits and vegetables don’t even have labels. If you are looking at a packaged food, stick to those that have the fewest and simplest ingredients.
These are just a few simple ways that you can act to clean up your diet. Why not take a little time and learn more about some nutritional tactics you can use? Click here to learn more about healthy eating with 5 Tips to Choosing a Protein Powder.