Clean eating can be difficult when you’re stressed, tempted by a night out on the town, or if you lead a busy lifestyle. However, you can effectively cleanse your life of most junk food, restaurant meals, and convenience foods if you really set your mind to it.
Here, are nine easy tips for spring cleaning your diet…
1. Reach for Natural Fruit
Sure, you can reach for that sweetened apple sauce or apple infused muffin, but why when you can reach for the real thing—a big, fresh, juicy apple! The fruit itself is not only the most natural option; it’s also the one with the greatest amount of vitamins and nutrients and the one with the least amount of sugar and other additives.
2. Make Your Own Salad Dressing
Unfortunately, most store-bought salad dressings full of sugar, Trans fatty oils, and sodium. That’s why making your own will do your heart and waistline a big favor. Try mixing a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil with a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar for a heart-healthy option. And if you like creamy dressings, mix a few tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt with fresh lemon juice and garlic.
3. Leave Processed Meats at the Deli Counter
Packaged meats, particularly ham, bologna, and salami are full of chemical preservatives, sodium, nitrates, and added hormones (in many cases). If you like a sandwich for lunch, prepare an all natural cooked ham or chicken breasts in the oven. Then slice them fine and use this healthier option in lieu of deli meats.
4. Sip on All-Natural Juices
You have to be really careful with fruit juices and fruit cocktails. Look at the label and I guarantee most won’t contain much real juice at all. The flavor is actually thanks to high fructose corn syrup or other sugar additives. So rather than sipping on sugary concoctions, only pour from cartons of 100-percent real fruit juice instead or make your own fresh fruit juice at home.
5. Hunt for Natural Meats
If you eat meat, especially red meat, swapping grain-fed beef for grass-fed beef will ensure that you serve up a cut that’s much higher in nutrients. Also, look for lean cuts of red meat and try to keep it limited to a few times per week, at most, substituting lean chicken, turkey, fresh or frozen fish fillets for meat options for the remainder of the week.
6. Simmer Homemade Soups and Stews
Canned chili and dehydrated chicken soup mix have one thing in common—they are jam-packed with whopping amount of sodium. Luckily, you can prepare a slow cooker full of homemade soup or stew made with all natural ingredients and set it to low before you leave for work. When you return home, you’ll have a wholesome, nourishing meal for dinner and leftovers all week!
7. Leave Canned Fruit on the Shelf
When peaches aren’t in season, it seems like the most rational and easy choice is canned peaches. However, many of these are canned in heavy syrup, which is basically just refined sugar. If your favorite fruit isn’t in season, aim for those canned in real fruit juice or buy frozen fruit, which usually contains zero sugar or additives.
8. Eat Plain Yogurt
When you buy yogurt, do you usually spend time choosing between strawberry-banana and peach flavors? I’ll make it easy; the healthiest option is plain, full fat yogurt or plain Greek yogurt, both which are higher in calcium, protein, and lower in added sugars and fats. Plus, you can always add some natural sweetness to your plain yogurt by adding a squeeze of all-natural honey, all-natural maple syrup, or fresh or frozen fruit.
9. Get Cracking Pasture-Raised Eggs
If you’re shopping for eggs at your grocer or local farmer’s market the healthiest option is always eggs from pasture-raised chickens. These contain far more healthy (omega 3) fats and less saturated (bad) fats compared to eggs from chickens kept in chicken coops.