Switching to a clean diet that consists of real food, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meat and whole grains will put you on the right track to a healthy weight. But there are a few things you can do to speed things up. This is particularly important if you have a lot of weight to lose or are pre-diabetic.
Watch The Sweeteners
Clean eating cuts out all white sugar and artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners like honey, agave syrup and maple syrup are usually allowed though. While they are fine to use in moderation, be careful about not going overboard. Replacing your sugary treats with “clean” versions that contain just as many natural sugars won’t help you lose the weight and isn’t good for your blood sugar.
Careful With Carbs
One of the best ways to lose excess weight is to curb carbohydrate consumption. Fill your plate with low carb, non-starchy vegetables, add a few berries and go easy on the potatoes.
Tracking carbohydrate consumption for a few days can help you get a feel for what clean foods are high in carbs and how lowering your carbohydrate intake makes you feel.
Plenty of Protein And Healthy Fat To Stay Full
With sugars and carbs out of the way, what should you eat? After all a big salad will only satisfy you for so long. Make it up with plenty of lean protein and healthy fats. Both take a longer time to digest and will help you stay full.
Include things like chicken, low fat cottage cheese, Greek Yogurt, ground turkey etc. with each meal or snack. Nuts are another great option full of healthy fats. Be careful of portion sizes though. The same holds true for healthy fats like cold-pressed olive oil or avocados.
Don’t Forget The Water
Often we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. Try drinking a glass of water first. Not only will it fill you up with zero calories, staying well hydrated also makes it easier for your body to process body fat into energy your body can use. In other words, drink your water and melt that fat right of your body.
Move Around More
Eating the right type of food in appropriate portions will make a huge difference when it comes to your weight. But so will moving around. We’re not talking about heading to the gym each day or gong for a 5 mile run. While those are great options, even moving around just a little more can have a positive impact.
Go for a short walk after dinner, park a little further away at the mall or dance around the kitchen to your favorite music. Not only will this burn extra calories, it also puts you in a better mood and kicks your metabolism into high gear.
Eating clean at home is relatively easy. You cook what you want to eat and provided you have the right ingredients in your fridge and pantry you shouldn’t be too tempted by takeout and fast food. Things get a little more complicated when you’re away from home.
When You’re Traveling
Do your homework before you head out. What options will you have on the road and once you arrive at your destination? See if there are grocery stores close by and if you will have access to a mini-fridge (if you’re staying in a hotel).
Pack some emergency snacks in case you can’t find anything you can eat. Stock up on nuts, fruits, seeds and raw vegetables. If you can, pack a little cooler with other ready to eat food. Having water and herbal teas on hand will also help when you’re traveling.
When You’re Invited To Dinner
Depending on your relationship with the hostess, you may or may not want to mention your dietary restrictions. In either case it’s a good idea to have a substantial snack before you head out the door. You don’t want to arrive hungry and be tempted by all the “off-limit” food options.
Make the best choices you can. After that it’s a personal decision if you want to avoid most food or have some foods you wouldn’t normally eat in order to avoid offending the hostess. At the end of the day, a few bites of processed foods won’t kill you. Just avoid any known trigger foods and if you can, stay away from wheat and sugar.
When You’re Going Out To Eat
Research the place ahead of time, or if you have input in where you should go, pick a restaurant that you know has choices that fit into your eating plan.
Most restaurants offer their menus online. Start there and see what you can find that’s at least close to being acceptable. Then give them a call and see what they can do to accommodate you. You may be able to make some small tweaks in the menu to cut out foods you’re trying to avoid. Stating you’re on dietary restrictions or can’t handle certain ingredients will help. Of course it always helps to be nice to the person on the other end of the phone line and your server once you get to the restaurant.
One more quick tip. Anytime you head out, even if it’s just for a few short hours, carry a healthy snack with you. Keep some non-perishables like nuts and dried fruit in your purse along with some bottled water. No matter what happens, you’ll have your snack and can make it until you get back home to cook a clean meal.
Andrea Stewart Roa, M.S.
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