Eating Clean for Beginners – Introduction
Clean Eating for Beginners: How to Get Started
Dieting for weight loss and better health is often portrayed as complicated, time-consuming, expensive, or just plain unpleasant.
The vast majority of diets cannot be sustained for more than a couple of weeks, which is why so many people are lifelong serial dieters.
They follow their chosen plan for a week or so, get fed up with feeling hungry, depressed, and deprived of their favorite foods, and revolt by binging.
This creates a yo-yo effect of weight loss followed by weight regain.
Some people even gain back more weight than they lost, essentially dieting themselves fatter.
The diet industry is the most successful yet unsuccessful industry on the planet.
For every diet that fails, two more spring up in its place!
It’s clear, then, that diets don’t work.
They’re too strict, unpleasant, complicated, dull, or expensive for long-term use.
Losing weight and keeping it off requires a more sustainable approach – clean eating.
This article explains what clean eating is and how to use it to lose weight and keep it off forever.
What is Clean Eating?
The concept behind clean eating is simple – build your meals around natural, nutritious real food, and keep your intake of processed junk food to a minimum.
Doing this will fix 90% of dietary issues, help you lose and keep weight off, boost your health, and give you more energy.
There is no fixed eating plan to follow, so you cannot fail.
Instead, you simply eat clean most of the time and allow yourself the occasional treat so that no food is ever completely off-limits.
How long can you eat like this?
A week? A Month?
In reality, you can eat clean forever, meaning you won’t have to worry about that annoying weight regain that follows almost every other diet.
Clean eating is what your great-grandparents just called eating.
It’s a step back to a simpler time when your food came from fields and not processing factories.
It’s no coincidence that people were generally slimmer back in those days, and many of the diseases that plague modern humans didn’t were much less common, such as type two diabetes, anxiety, and obesity.
The Health Benefits of Clean Eating
So, why should you cut down on processed foods and start eating clean?
Here are just a few of the benefits of clean eating.
Clean foods are naturally lower in calories than most processed foods.
Take vegetables, for example.
You can eat an enormous serving of vegetables without ingesting more than a couple of hundred calories.
In contrast, a small portion of processed food, e.g., a couple of slices of pizza, contains more calories than most people need in a day.
Eating clean means eating fewer calories without weighing or measuring your food.
Weight loss is virtually unavoidable when you start eating clean.
Most restrictive diets lead to hunger.
Small portions or less frequent meals mean hunger is a constant companion.
Most people can ignore hunger for a few days, but, eventually, it’ll wear you down, you’ll overeat or break your diet, and that’s the end of that!
Clean foods are low in calories but high in bulk, so they’re naturally more filling than ultra-processed foods.
For example, an apple contains roughly 60 calories, as does a small cookie.
An apple is a filling snack, and most people only feel like eating 1-2 in a sitting.
Who can’t eat half a dozen of those sugary treats and then come back for more 20 minutes later?
Eating clean means less hunger, which will stop you from overeating.
Processed foods have almost all their nutrients removed.
They contain few if any, vitamins or minerals and very little fiber.
They are devoid of the nutrients your body needs to function at its best.
Because of this, many people are over-fat but undernourished – they consume too many calories but too few essential nutrients.
Clean foods reverse this trend by being far richer in nutrients but much lower in calories.
Consuming clean foods is not just good for weight loss but better for your overall health.
Many chronic diseases can be avoided, prevented, or even treated with clean eating.
More stable energy levels
Processed foods are often high in sugar and low in fiber.
Because of this, they’re digested quickly and provide a rapid burst of energy.
However, as quickly as your energy levels spike, they dip even faster, which leaves you feeling flatter than the proverbial pancake.
This quickly sees you reaching for another sugary hit.
And so the cycle continues as you try to keep your energy levels stable.
Needless to say, this makes it all but impossible to rein in your junk food consumption and control your weight.
Most people start their sugar roller-coaster of a day with a big bowl of breakfast cereal or baked goods.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In contrast, a slow-releasing carb like oatmeal will stabilize your energy levels, preventing hunger and eliminating the need for a second (or third!) breakfast.
You’ll feel full and energized until lunch.
Many people have issues with low energy, which helps explain our national addiction to energy drinks.
It goes without saying that energy drinks only mask the symptom of eating unhealthily and do nothing to address the cause of the problem.
Sleep and nutrition are inextricably linked.
High-sugar foods, processed foods, and junk foods mess with your energy and blood glucose levels, so you feel tired when you should be awake and awake when you should be winding down and getting ready to sleep.
So, you wake up feeling tired and unrested, so you reach for sugar and coffee to pep you up.
This vicious cycle explains why so many of us feel like we’re addicted to high-sugar foods.
Clean eating eliminates all these peaks and troughs.
It reduces your reliance on high-sugar foods and stimulants, so you can sleep properly and wake up refreshed.
How to Eat Clean for Beginners
The first thing to remember is that trying to change too many aspects of your diet at the same time is a recipe for disaster.
It’s almost impossible to sustain lots of changes, so don’t bother trying.
Instead, make several small changes over time so that, over a couple of months, you gradually overhaul your diet.
Here’s a six-week plan to get you started.
Make the changes for week one, and then maintain them as you add the changes for week two, i.e.:
Week 1 – breakfast
Week 2 – breakfast AND protein
Week 3 – breakfast, protein, plant foods, etc.
Week 1: Have a nutritious breakfast
Commit to eating a good breakfast every day.
Good options include:
- Natural yogurt and fruit with a little honey
- Old-fashioned oatmeal and blueberries
- Overnight oats
- Eggs on whole-grain toast
Replace your coffee with a cup of nutritious and refreshing green tea.
Skip the sugary cereals and Pop-Tarts – they’ll do you more harm than good.
Week 2: Eat quality protein twice a day
Protein is a crucial nutrient for weight and hunger management.
It’s also vital for muscle repair and growth and can help stabilize your blood sugar.
And yet, most people don’t eat enough.
That’s probably because carb-based foods are more readily available, cheaper, and easier to prepare.
Include a portion of protein in two meals per day.
Then go for three!
Don’t worry about the portion size – that’s an unnecessary detail right now.
Instead, just make sure there is some protein on your plate a couple of times per day.
- Lean beef
- Lean pork
Or a plant-based protein like
Week 3: Eat plant foods twice a day
Plant foods are your primary source of healthful nutrition, yet most people don’t eat enough.
It’s time for that to change!
Include plant foods in at least two meals per day.
The type of plant doesn’t matter – just ensure you include fresh vegetables or fruits in a couple of your meals.
How much should you eat?
Start small and then increase your portion size, and you get used to eating more plant foods.
Week 4: Drink more water
Most people are chronically dehydrated.
Dehydration affects your energy levels, digestive health, urinary health, appetite, skin – pretty much every system in your body.
If you usually slake your thirst with soda, juice, or energy drinks, it’s time to start consuming more water.
There is no need to measure your water consumption; just drink more.
Week 5: Start eating less processed foods
Up to this point, you’ve been adding things to your diet – protein, plant foods, water, etc.
Now it’s time to start taking a few things away.
In fact, you may have already found yourself eating less processed foods to make room for the things we’ve been adding!
So, whenever you are planning what to eat, start replacing processed foods with less processed options.
Start with one meal a day, then increase as you feel able.
- Eat fresh fruits instead of candy for snacks
- Have a salad instead of a takeout burger for dinner
- Eat natural yogurt instead of ice cream for dessert
- Have grilled chicken instead of a hotdog
- Eat vegetables instead of French fries
Also, consider removing processed foods from your home so you can’t fall back into old habits and eat them “just because they are there.”
Make convenience foods inconvenient to eat, and you’ll have to eat more clean natural foods.
Week 6: Start to adjust your portion sizes
At no point have we told you to reduce your food intake.
However, the five changes discussed above will naturally lower your caloric intake, so you may already have started losing weight.
But, if weight loss is your primary goal, it’s time to start eating a little less so your body burns more fat for fuel.
Do NOT try and starve yourself thin – you know that doesn’t work.
Instead, reduce the size of your meals slightly.
You don’t need to count calories or weigh your food.
Just eat a little less.
If you start to feel hungry or deprived, you have cut calories too aggressively, so start eating a little more.
Balance your food intake with your weight – if you are losing about 1-2 pounds per week, you’re doing fine.
Clean Eating for Beginners – Wrapping Up
Clean eating is NOT a diet.
Diets are designed for short-term use and almost always fail.
Instead, clean eating is how you should eat forever to be healthy, lose weight, and keep it off.
It just means eating less processed and more natural whole foods; it really is that simple!
You can still have the occasional treat if you want, and no food is off the menu.
However, the majority of your food should be in its natural state and not processed, and ideally, you should prepare most of your own meals.
While this non-diet may seem intimidating or difficult at first, you can make it much less so by easing into clean eating gradually.
Use this six-week plan to make your transition to healthy eating easier.
And don’t worry if you slip up now and then.
The great thing about clean eating is that it works even when you aren’t “perfect.”
Just do your best to eat clean most of the time, and you’ll transform your body and improve your health.
Is it possible to lean out without counting calories?
Absolutely, and the information is free; you’re welcome!
When I started the ‘Hashi Mashi Diet‘ in 2012, I didn’t know it was essentially a “clean eating” lifestyle.
I have not counted one calorie since then and still maintain my original 75lb weight loss.
Clean Eating Works!
Use these 5 easy steps to lose 20 pounds in 3 months, aka The Hashi Mashi Plan™ – a clean eating lifestyle to look and feel better than ever.
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