It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to bulk up, slim down, get fitter, get healthier, look better, or anything else for that matter, as one thing that is for certain, is the fact that without a healthy and balanced diet plan, you simply aren’t going to get anywhere quick. If we want to look and feel better, we must ensure that we nourish our bodies and fuel them with produce that actually benefits us. Of course the occasional cheat meal now and then is perfectly fine, but for the most part, you must ensure that your diet is made up of healthy food, as opposed to junk. People are often put off from clean eating as they think that basically, all they can eat is super lean white meat, steamed vegetables, baked cod, salad, and other bland and tasteless produce. If you enjoy those foods then that’s perfectly fine, but if not, then rest assured that there is certainly more to clean eating than bland, tasteless, and virtually fat-free produce. To help you on your clean eating journey, here’s a look at 5 tips that should help you out.

Change your lifestyle

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When most people embark on clean eating journeys, they basically tell people that they’re on a diet, so they can’t eat or drink certain things that their diet doesn’t allow. However, diets are quick fixes, they can promote binge eating, and let’s be honest, they tend to make us miserable in the process. When we start a diet, most of us are counting down the days until we can end it, or enjoy a cheat meal, and that just isn’t practical for the long-term. If you’re serious about cleaning your diet up, you should instead change your lifestyle and adopt an eating plan that is sustainable that you can potentially practice for many years to come. Obviously you don’t need to never eat junk food again, but ideally 90% of your diet, 90% of the time, should be made up of fresh, healthy, and natural produce that is actually going to benefit you in the long-term.

Focus on nutrient content

Again, when most people are “dieting” and are trying to be good with their diets, when they do shop for food and drink, when they read the nutritional info printed on the back of the produce, they tend to ignore the ingredients and the nutrient content, and instead focus primarily on fat content and on how many calories a serving will provide. Whilst it is indeed true that in order to lose weight you need to fall into a calorie deficit, clean eating isn’t just about losing fat and toning up, it is about promoting better health, which is why you should focus on the nutrient content found in the produce you’re shopping for. Rather than just looking at the calories, look at how many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are found in the produce. You see, when you focus on calories, you feel tired, you feel hungry, and you feel irritable, whereas by focusing on nutrients, you will feel energized, you will feel happy, and your body will perform much better as a result.

Reward yourself

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If you’ve ever dieted before, and let’s be real, you probably will have, you’ll know right off the bat that constantly feeling hungry and deprived of the foods you enjoy can be hell, and can put you in the foulest of moods, and nobody wants that. If you are trying to eat cleanly but still crave certain foods that are not considered ‘clean’, rather than depriving yourself constantly, give yourself a reward for staying on plan, or for hitting certain goals and targets. If for example, you have gone all week without cheating on your diet or skipping a workout, at the end of the week, if you are craving a certain type of food or drink, reward yourself with a treat meal. Treat meals help keep us sane, and they keep us on track during the week, as it gives us something to look forward to. Don’t go mad, but if you have been craving a bacon double cheeseburger and fries, at the weekend, providing you’re still on track, have the meal you’ve craved, enjoy it, and get right back on plan the very next day.

Avoid added sugar

Sugar is a highly complex ingredient that is far, far more influential on our health than many of us ever realised. If a food contains carbohydrates, it will be broken down and converted into sugars in the body, in the form of glucose, which we then use for energy. Some foods, particularly those that are considered simple carbohydrates, contain natural sugars, especially fruits, as they contain fructose sugars. Too much sugar however, can cause unstable blood sugar levels, can damage our organs, and can cause hormonal imbalances, especially in regards to insulin, which is used to regulate blood sugar levels. We all know that too much sugar is bad for us, so when it comes to foods and drinks, avoid foods and drinks that contain added sugars. Natural sugars, within reason of course, are perfectly fine, but added sugars can cause all kinds of health complications, plus they will ramp up the calorie content and will contribute towards fat gain as well.

Consume a balanced variety of food and drink

In order to achieve optimal health, we need to provide our bodies with what they need, and what they need is a balanced variety of macronutrients in the form of fats, protein, and carbohydrates. You can easily work out your daily macro requirements online using simple tools and apps, or you can simply follow guidelines set out your health officials. The key thing to remember is that you should ensure you are consuming the right quantities of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates every single day, making sure to not forget micronutrients in the form of fresh vegetables, as they are packed full of beneficial nutrients. Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of fresh water, as water is essential for optimal health and well-being.

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