The concept of nutrition can be vast and overwhelming. For those interested, there is a lot to learn – but where should one start? The pool of information for anything nutrition-related is extensive, and sometimes – never-ending! Chances are, that you’ve read articles about clean eating, clean label and healthy lifestyle changes umpteen number of times – which of these should you follow? The key to it all is simple. Eating clean simply means you control the food you eat – whether it is by portions, or by ingredients. It is not an activity or a change in diet – it is a lifestyle. Once you’re in, you will never be out! Your choice of what you put into your body determines how your body reacts to the minerals, carbohydrates and protein in it.
Like Morgan Spurlock rightly says, ‘Sorry, there’s no magic bullet. You got to eat healthily and live healthy, to be healthy and look healthy. End of story.’ This starts by embracing vegetables, whole foods, unrefined grains, lean protein and healthy fats – the focus is on the quality of food being consumed and the benefits you reap from such consumption. Whenever you change your lifestyle or adapt to a new habit, there is always a set of rules to follow. The below recommendations will help you ease into a more nutritious and cleaner lifestyle:
Cook your Own Food: The best way to control what you consume is by cooking what you consume – you will know exactly what ingredients you use to prepare your food. Cooked to your taste, using whole ingredients and no artificial preservatives is the perfect way to begin the journey to a more nutritious lifestyle.
Read Nutrition Labels: While you cook your own meals, it is a must to get familiar with nutrition labels – they will tell you all that you need to learn about the ingredient, sauce or additive you are using. The key to nutritious eating here is to look for labels with as fewer ingredients as possible – this way you know it is an artisanal, small-batch and whole food preparation.
Eat Whole Foods: Whole foods, in a nutshell, are those that aren’t tampered with – no extra processing and no artificial flavouring. This includes fresh vegetables, whole grains, seeds, lean protein (like lentils and beans) and dairy products. Make the food you are eating do more for you!
Avoid Processed Foods: This comes as a given – processed foods are basically foods that go through a web of processes to give you the taste that they do (mind you, this is rarely a good thing!). These include snacks (chips, fruit snacks, cookies, candy, frozen dinners, bottled dressings, canned food and instant food, among many others). Instead, take the time to buy fresh ingredients and whole foods and prepare your own snacks. Your body will be heavily grateful!
A well-balanced meal is a start to a well-balanced life: The food you are preparing must contain the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats since all three are essential to your body functions (zip down to the bottom for the required figures). To get you started, the fats you are eating must come from unsaturated fats as far as possible – avoid saturated and trans-fat at any cost! You will want to be mindful about what you are eating, in order to know what you are putting into your body. Your body is a temple, treat it like one!
Limit added fats, salts and sugars – say no to the artificial! Once again, a given when it comes to a more nutritious lifestyle – skip foods that have added fats, salts and sugars. Essentially, skip all the fatty snacks you see on the store shelves – a bag of chips is very, very tempting – but also very, very harmful when consumed often. Once you have eased into a cleaner eating lifestyle, all your ex-flames like hamburgers, fries, pizzas, doughnuts, samosas, vada-pav’s will taste over-sweet and extra-salty to your taste buds (Trust me, this is a good thing!). This is because your body will be completely used to whole foods and the nutrition it brings to your well-being!
Eat more than 3, and less than 7 meals a day: Avoid counting calories – instead, make your calories count! A mindful decision about the meal or snack at hand will assuredly benefit you in the long run. opt for 3 small main meals (that is, your breakfast, lunch & dinner) and two to three substantial snacks during the day (or late at night) – for this, choose from nutritious snack items prepared with whole foods. For example, Gouri’s Goodies is your one-stop-shop for everything whole – whole grains, whole seeds, whole sugars, and wholesome goodness! Choose from Energy Bars for every taste bud, Energy Bites for an easy carry-around snack, Energy Balls for a sweet craving and Breakfast Cereals to fire up your breakfasts with crunchy nutrition!
A gradual transition is a smart transition. Rushing into anything is a bad idea (ask divorce lawyers who make money off of the habit of rushing!). This is a new lifestyle, not an overnight diet change – it takes time, and if you ease into it, the experience will be nourishing. All you need to do is, consider nutritious and clean replacements to the food you are consuming on a daily basis. For example, swap white sugar for cane sugar – choose a date paste or nut butter for natural sweetness instead of processed spreads or jams. Chocolates are the tastiest and easiest snack – however, choose chocolates with less added sugar. Add Greek yoghurt where you usually use sour cream and switch the chips and crackers for seed & grain-filled energy bar.
Every change you make towards your own eating lifestyle is a positive change. Like I have heard in many cases (and truly believe so), no one ever said, ‘I regret eating healthy today’. Start today, make many tomorrows cleaner and good!