Over the years I have heard this statement one too many times, “I couldn’t possibly give up my [insert sugary food here]!” Or even the question, “what is paleo?” And it truly pains me to hear people who don’t know what it is, explain it – it’s like when someone is chomping loudly on gum, it makes me cringe.
At least for me, my change started out by eliminating foods that made me feel uncomfortable. For years, I thought bloating after meals was the norm, but oh how I was wrong. During college I lived off of quesadillas, cereal, and (sorry Mom and Dad) beer. I was constantly bloated, but since I was a college athlete, my insane workout schedule kept me fit (or at least a version of fit).
It wasn’t until college ended that I was like something needs to change. I started eliminating dairy – which seemed to be my main problem – then came bread, and then dare I say, beer. Just by eliminating certain foods I already felt significantly better. I wasn’t bloated after meals and I had more energy. It was about that time that I started to really care about what I ingredients I was putting into my body, and I started to get into a clean eating and paleo lifestyle.
What exactly is clean eating?
Clean eating is all about eating whole foods, and replacing processed and refined foods with healthier options to improve your health and well-being.
So, how is it different from paleo?
Just like clean eating, paleo aims to improve how you feel by eating real food. Paleo gets a bad rap because people tend to think it’s super strict. However, that’s not always the case. Paleo is just more straightforward and encourages eating nutrient dense food. It’s all about the quality of ingredients.
So the big misconception with a clean eating or paleo lifestyle is that it’s taking food away, and that’s not the case. There are plenty of healthy foods to choose from, like:
- Poultry and fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats
Now more than ever there are brands that are being mindful about the ingredients that they are using – and especially the ones they are eliminating. Healthy fats, coconut sugar and almond flour are just some of the ingredient changes they are making.
What foods do you avoid?
You can spend hours on the internet researching food and what you should avoid, but I’m not a fan of telling you what you shouldn’t eat ( although if your my husband I have no problem). Ultimately you need to listen to your body and do what’s right for you. This is my personal list that I try to avoid while following the clean eating lifestyle:
- Processed foods
- Refined Sugars
Why these foods? Often these are the instigators and cause of a lot of aliments. And normally once you cut these out, you feel better. Once you learn how to cook without these ingredients, and taste the wonderful flavors of whole foods, I promise you won’t want to go back.
Balance and moderation are the secrets to success.
As with everything, balance and moderation are the keys to success with clean eating and paleo. Don’t avoid everything, or you’ll find yourself dreading your meals. Indulge, but adjust the portion sizes to fit your particular nutrient and body goals. We all need that cocktail, or piece of cake every now and then – if nothing more than to stay sane.
Ok, now where do I start?
Don’t feel like you need to cut everything out at once. Start slowly with the foods that make you feel the worst (typically dairy, sugar or bread), then see how you feel and go from there. Remember it’s a lifestyle change and it shouldn’t stress you out!
If you’re interested in kick-starting your paleo journey, check out this great article from Paleo Leap outlining 15 tips to start! And here are a few of my favorite recipes to get your started:
- Spinach Sweet Potato Frittata
- Mixed Green Salad with Prosciutto and Pears
- Broiled Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze
- Creamy Chocolate Smoothie
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