Tired of hearing your elders about how their time is way different back then? They must be speaking facts because this century is making its way in history books as the beginning of a seemingly new world.
The 21st century is marked by different innovations, ranging from technology to our lifestyles in general. Though these innovations have significantly impacted our lives, this doesn’t really cover the multiple stemming disadvantages.
This new generation is also known for the daily hustle and bustle that have called for other ways to survive. One of them is poor meal planning—and I think we’re all guilty of it.
Since time has always been demanded of us, we’ve somehow established that time has become one of the most significant barriers to healthy eating. And since the hustle and bustle trend is consuming so much of our time, this causes last-minute decisions and as well as settling for less healthy foods just to keep up with us.
I can vouch for all of us when it comes to our tendency to go for a fast-food drive-thru and pizza delivery instead of making our own healthy food or ordering a healthy meal which can take long hours to make. I mean, they’re pretty convenient, right?
I do understand that at this point, we have perceived good health as a luxury more than a necessity. With the hustle and bustle trend, some just don’t have equal opportunity to take their own bodies. However, this must not be the case—there’s always a way to keep our bodies healthy and clean!
What is clean eating?
I first would like to debunk the misconception about clean eating as a diet. Clean eating is more of a lifestyle than a diet because it is a way to approach on how and what you eat. It is about strictly watching what you eat and also refusing junk and processed foods.
According to WHO, a healthy diet for adults should compose of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. There should as well be less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars for an average person with a healthy body weight who consumes 2000 calories per day [https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet].
Of course, these are just some of the many requirements that your body needs. However, you should as well take note that different bodies require different needs.
Since this is rather a lifestyle than a diet, you should not forget to do physical activity here and there. Also, keep in mind that calorie intake should be well-balanced with your energy expenditure. So it’s a different story if you’re an athlete.
Are you worried about how to start a healthy diet? For starters, you can always follow the Healthy Plate system to introduce your body to the new life of healthiness:
A Healthy Plate system is a visual representation of what should be on your plate to keep your body healthy and to give you a more natural way to watch what you eat. It shows a well-balanced meal with the right proportions from different food groups.
The healthy plate helps you monitor your intake and shows that eating clean doesn’t necessarily mean restricting yourself from all the calorie and carb intake or depriving yourself of the foods you love. It is about finding balance and a healthy way to enjoy food.
If you want to learn more about healthy plates, you can watch more by clicking this link:
Why should I eat clean?
Why should I eat clean when I’m perfectly healthy? Well, to start, how assured are we that we really are healthy? Chances are we’ve been associating healthiness with our body shape and weight and lack of signs and symptoms of a disease—which are not a reasonable basis.
There could be underlying effects of your poor eating lifestyle that can be evident in the long run. You better check with your doctor to have an assessment of your current health situation and to also know what specific diet you should employ, in case eating clean could no longer suffice.
Eating clean can help you save money from all the medical bills because this allows you to eat clean and real food. Also, often eating out could as well break your bank in the long run. With eating clean, you are kind of forced to grocery shop and make your own meal (I mean, cooking is therapeutic, so don’t worry!)
You also get to learn how to cook because you’re now the head chef of your meal plans. This isn’t just cost-effective, but you also learn a new skill—hitting two birds with one stone, yeah?
Another reason to eat clean is that food and mood always go together. Eating healthy can make you happier because foods like berries, bananas, coffee, lean proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and whatnot boost your mental state.
Over-scheduled and multiple shifts are quite evident in every age group, from working millennials to busy college students too distracted younger generations. This causes mindless eating and also consuming too many processed foods, which can pose long-term effects on your eating habit.
With so many changes both in our external environment to our own body, we should keep in mind taking care of our health must be a priority and must be seen as important as building your career. After all, we’re only graced with one body for the rest of our lives.
There are so many reasons why you should eat clean—and these are just some of them. From getting a goodnight’s sleep to achieving that skin glow, eating healthy surely has many benefits.
If you’re still hesitant to start or continue your clean eating, then you might want to check this video out for simple guidelines:
How to improve my diet?
Eat a wide variety of foods every day
If you need a sign to go shopping at your local grocery stores, then this is it. Make sure that you put a wide variety in your basket, even those vegetables you never imagined eating.
A tasty and wide variety doesn’t only ensure that you’re acquiring all essential nutrients, but it also helps you expand and elevate your palate. Eating carrots every single day inevitably gets boring, right?
To increase the variety of foods that you eat, maybe you can try a new type of fruit or vegetable every week. Make it exciting by planning so that you won’t have any repetitions for two constant weeks.
You can also try incorporating other varieties of foods in your meal. In this way, you can make your eating time more exciting. For instance, you can serve yourself some milk during breakfast or a freshly-squeezed mango juice for lunch.
Regardless of the variety of food you’re planning to employ in your meal, it is always best to prepare it beforehand by creating your own eating plan. Subsequently, it will give you a more visual assessment of the variety of foods that you intake.
You might want to check this link out for some meal plan examples that you can pattern to your own meal plan: https://www.verywellfit.com/an-example-of-a-healthy-balanced-meal-plan-2506647
Increase fruit and vegetable consumption
When talking about food, it is easy to tell someone to eat meat because they’re delicious and there are so many ways to cook and prepare them. But when vegetables are in the conversation, I know the feeling of wanting to dip out.
When it comes to eating clean, though, we should start making fruits and vegetables as our best friends because they can significantly supply us with essential vitamins and nutrients.
Why take multiple supplements when you can just have your usual fruits and vegetables? After all, they can protect you against different health conditions and elevate your body functions and performance.
The adequate intake of fruits and vegetables requires two pieces of fruit and five servings of vegetables in the daily diet. The variety of fruits and vegetables matters because each serves a different purpose in your supply of vitamins and nutrients.
Include dark green vegetables like broccoli, leafy green vegetables like lettuces, orange vegetables such as carrots, and raw salad vegetables and legumes. Make sure to incorporate your fruits and veggies in all of your meals.
This may sound crazy, but this definitely works: ditch your chips and cakes and turn to fruits and vegetables instead of snacks. Imagine, instead of snacking on your carbs and sugars, you’re snacking on something healthy?
I know, they just don’t taste as good, but there are so many recipes on how you can make them fantastically enjoyable, like this one:
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Did you know that we can go for more than three weeks without food but can only last for three days without water? This shows how staying hydrated is a severe subject.
Adults must drink at least 8 cups of water a day, and more if you’re in a tropical country or engage in strenuous physical activities. If you find this difficult to achieve, there are some techniques to help you.
You can infuse your water with fruits like cucumber, lemon, and whatnot so that your water won’t taste bland. I know the feeling of wanting to drink something delicious. Hence infusing your water will help you avoid the temptation of buying soda or sugary drinks.
Make sure to drink a glass of water with every meal. You ideally eat three meals a day. Hence, that means you get to tick off the three glasses on your list!
CHOOSE BOTH PLANT AND ANIMAL-BASED PROTEIN
This is one of the most exciting parts of eating clean—you get to eat meat and still be healthy! Protein is vital to help our body function well and also help our immune system.
Though protein is present in plant-based foods such as beans and eggs, it could still not be enough to satisfy our protein requirement. Adults are highly recommended to eat at least 0.83g of protein.
To achieve the required protein content, the animal-based protein could sincerely help us. However, only eating animal-based could be quite unhealthy. Hence, you should balance it with plant-based.
There are frozen and canned versions of these proteins that can as well be nutritious alternatives. However, the salt and fat content can be a bit higher than the fresh meat that we usually intake.
You can create your meal plan so that your meat is situated in your major meals, and your plant-based protein can be your snack. I mean, snacking on eggs is healthy and delicious!
Ditch Added Sugar
It is genuinely lovely to have a cold carbonated drink with your meal, most notably on a hot day. However, this sadly must go when you’re planning to improve your diet.
Added sugar, especially from sugary drinks like soft drinks and artificial juices, is one of the many reasons why there is an unhealthy weight gain and health problems like heart diseases and diabetes.
What is a good meal without your ultra-sweet desserts served after, right? Candies and baked goods are also among the many foods that you should eat lightly and in moderation because they have a high amount of added sugar.
If you’re eating clean to lose weight, ditching added sugar is one of the must-dos because this is one way to lose excess weight.
Experimenting on your food by researching ways on how to make them good is one fun way to enjoy your clean eating. This is the best for foods that aren’t really enjoyable, to begin with, like vegetables. Regardless, it still brings out the chef and scientist in you, which makes it more exciting.
There are so many ways to eat healthy without having to compromise your enjoyment for your food. This may mean that you have to cut down your sugary foods, but that is okay when you get to be healthier and happier. Remember that choosing a lifestyle means sacrificing something—but don’t let it be your extra years of a healthy life!
Paul is an aspiring amateur chef from Sydney, Australia. Paul comes from Vietnam and has a passion for Asian food. He has visited Asia including Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Singapore and hopes to inspire others with his passion for food.