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Eating clean is a nutrition term I can live with. Although no one definition exists, the generally accepted principles are simple and effective: Eat more whole, real foods including lean protein, healthy fats and unrefined whole grains — and eat less processed and packaged foods, added sugar and unhealthy fats.
Many of us need more guidelines if we really want to lose weight, but these basic parameters are a very good place to start. And, guess what? You can get started today and you just may see results by tomorrow.
Along with improved sleep and more energy, here’s what you may experience:
1. Sharper brain function
Ditching the soda and diet soda and getting your green and black tea on will provide you with an amino acid called L-theanine, which is a brain booster and will help calm your mind and aid in focus.
Antioxidant-rich blueberries should take the place of your afternoon Swedish Fish habit if you want to keep your brain young and sharp and protected from oxidative damage.
2. Increased satiety
Foods like bagels, chocolate chip muffins and sugary cereals (translation: not clean eating) can increase inflammation in the body and won’t even keep you full. There is a reason you keep wanting just one more bite. These processed, high-sugar foods don’t provide satiety.
A less processed morning option such as oatmeal contains a soluble fiber called beta glucan. This slow-digesting fiber will keep you fuller for longer, preventing overeating, while it also may improve blood cholesterol and overall heart health. Add an egg to this breakfast for further satiety. Eggs provide about six grams of protein helping you to stay satisfied until your next clean meal.
At snack time, swap out processed snack bars or pretzels for nuts or olives because the healthy fat will also keep you more satisfied.
3. Less inflammation
Most clean foods provide antioxidants, compounds that work to lessen inflammation in your body.
Inflammation arises in response to everything from the environment to stress to even the foods we eat. When you choose to eat that fried chicken sandwich instead the kale salad during your lunch break, you may be adding to chronic inflammation inside your body, which can lead to heart disease, cancer and a whole host of unhealthy conditions. Getting your fat from healthy fats like avocado and nuts will help lessen oxidative stress in your body.
4. Improved digestion
Cleaning up your eating habits by adding in dark leafy greens daily will have your digestive system thanking you in possibly just a day's time.
Spinach, broccoli rabe, kale and Swiss chard are all high in both water volume and fiber, two key components to keeping your GI tract moving. And of course, they are low in calories and packed with antioxidants helping you reap all the other clean eating benefits, from skin health to preventing cancer and promoting weight loss. Some greens such as fennel and dandelion act as diuretics helping to reduce bloat while filling you up at the same time.
5. Glowing skin
Fries, soda and chips are notoriously bad for your skin.
Clean foods such as fruits and veggies are famous for giving you a glow and may help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This is because your favorite produce contains antioxidants such as vitamin C, which helps increase the production of collagen and vitamin A which helps with skin cell turnover.
Hydrating with water, instead soda will also help your skin look better by the morning. I promise.