Blast Off: Forget the fad diet — clean up your eating habits

Forget about diets that restrict your caloric intake.

Forget about diets that restrict your caloric intake. You won’t be able to stick to them and they might end up slowing down your metabolism and turning your body into a fat-storing machine. Not the results you’re looking for, right? To lose weight and burn fat, all you need to do is clean up your meals.

Clean eating is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle approach to eating that focuses on consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. Below are the main mantras of clean eating to help you start your own kitchen makeover.

Step 1: Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Focus on fresh, whole foods with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and high quality protein sources. Always choose whole grains over refined grains.

Step 2: Get label savvy. If buying processed foods, learn to read labels and look for brands that contain less than five ingredients. If the first two ingredients include sugar, glucose, fructose or high fructose corn syrup, step away from the food and head back to the produce section for some fresh apples. Avoid anything that contains trans fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil) with a ten-foot pole. And if you can’t pronounce it, chances are, it’s not good for you, so don’t buy it.

Step 3: Avoid high sodium foods. High sodium consumption has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Aim for 1,500 mg of sodium a day. Foods high in sodium include canned soups, vegetable juices, canned tomatoes and beans, crackers, processed cheese, and chips.  Please eat in moderation.

Step 4: Start eating five or six small meals each day, spaced no more than three hours apart. Never skip breakfast! By eating consistently, your hunger levels will not get out of control, which will help you resist unhealthy temptations.

Step 5: Learn about portion sizes and start measuring your food to avoid over-eating. Read labels to determine what a serving is — should you be eating two thirds of a cup of cereal instead of that big bowl? Meat should be about as thick as a deck of cards and the size of your palm. Fruit and vegetable servings are about one cup or the size of a fist. If eating whole grains or starchy vegetables (potatoes), keep it to half a cup.

Step 6: Drink two litres of water (eight cups) each day to help with digestion and keep your body functioning at its best. Avoid sugary drinks at all times. Did you know that a can of soda has the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar? Limit coffee to two cups a day and alcohol to one drink a day. Research has linked excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking to breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease. Enjoy responsibly.

The following foods just don’t make the cut, ever, and should be avoided as much as possible as they provide little to no nutritional value:

1. Refined sugars — chocolate bars, candy, store bought baked goods and sugar.

2. Deep fried anything — the calories in fried foods are astronomical.

3. Soda, iced tea and fruit drinks — anything less than 100 per cent real juice is a no-go.

4. Prepackaged meals — high in sodium and preservatives, they just won’t do.

5. The white stuff — bread, pasta and rice — go for brown all the time!

Remember, healthy eating goes hand in hand with staying active. Not sure where to start, give us a call to get started today. For more information or to schedule a free consult, contact Jill Andrews at jill@myfitness4life.ca.

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