Tips for spring cleaning your diet!

Go for whole foods.

The basic idea of clean eating is to choose foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. Preferably raw. So instead of boxed, bagged, or packaged foods, choose fresh, whole ones. Think whole fish instead of frozen fish sticks or raw grapes instead of gummy bears made with fruit juice. Extra bonus: When you avoid highly processed foods, like chips, cookies, and ready-to-eat meals, you skip their loads of calories, sugar, salt, saturated fat and other menaces.

Eat more gluten free whole grains.

Refined carbs, like white bread, pasta, and rice, lose nutrients during the manufacturing process. For extra points use only gluten free all grain such as Amaranth, Millet, Teff, Buckwheat and Quinoa. If gluten free is too much of a hustle for you, use whole wheat bread and pasta and brown or wild rice. Or opt for other whole grains like oatmeal, corn, barley, or bulgur. This change can have a big impact: Studies show that a diet high in whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer.

Fill up on fruit and vegetables.

These natural foods are two pillars of clean eating. Some clean eaters

say all your produce should be fresh. But others say that frozen and

canned options are the next best thing, since they have just as

many nutrients. Read the label to make sure you’re not getting extra

sugar or salt. Choose whole fruits instead of juices, which have less

fibre and more sugar. Aim to get at least five to nine servings of fruits

and vegetables each day.

Reduce salt and added sugar.

Clean foods are naturally low in salt and sugar, and therefore adding these ingredients goes against the as-natural-as-possible intention. Since processed foods are a major source of them, you will reduce your intake when you avoid them. Alternatively, read food labels to look for added sweeteners and salt, even in foods that seem healthy, like yogurt or tomato sauce. Also keep count of how much you add to your foods and drinks. Try flavouring with spices and herbs instead.

Increase your intake of water.

Instead of sugar-heavy soft drinks and juices, drink low-calorie beverages, such as water and herbal tea. Water can reduce your hunger and help you feel full, but it can also fend off fatigue and energise you.                                 Miss flavoured drinks? Try infusing your water with a slice of citrus or mint leaves.

Stay away from artificial ingredients.

Artificial colours, sweeteners, preservatives, and other industrial ingredients don’t have a place in a clean-eating diet. At the supermarket, read food labels and avoid items with the fake stuff. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t pronounce the name of the ingredient, you shouldn’t be eating it.

Reduce alcohol and caffeine.

It’s best if you can cut them entirely in favour of drinking plenty of water. If you can’t then have them in moderation. Clean eater or not, experts recommend no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine (about three to five medium size cups of coffee) per day, and one serving of alcohol for women and two for men per day. Also skip the sugary extras: choose plain tea or coffee, and avoid sweet cocktails for alcohol.

Choose "organic" if you can.

Organic farming uses natural pesticides and avoids chemical ones, so some people say organic produce is the best way to eat clean. It’s up to you to decide how important it is to your diet. You can also shop at your local farmers market to find out what kinds of pesticides the sellers use. Another tip: Pesticides usually wind up on the outsides of fruits and veggies, so you can choose non-organic foods with skins you don't eat, like avocados, corn, onions, watermelon etc.

Be picky with your meat, fish and dairy.

Meat, fish, dairy, and eggs you buy at the supermarket are likely to come from animals that get growth hormones and antibiotics. Clean eaters avoid them and choose organic or opt for local sources that raise animals humanely. A farmer’s market is a good place to learn more about where your meat, fish and dairy come from. Seafood isn’t labelled as organic, so look for items low in mercury and that use sustainable fishing. For the cleanest source of protein, get most of it from nuts, beans, and legumes.

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