Eating Clean and Staying Lean

Eating clean is a healthy diet that works, and what’s more, it’s actually really good for you. Now that I have incorporated the eating clean habits into my life, I feel so much better. It could be an ideal diet for people who work in an office.

It involves eating whole, natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and complex carbs. This also means cutting out foods with refined sugar (fizzy drinks/cereals and many low-fat options), preservatives (all those frozen and canned meals), bad fats (hydrogenated, trans-fat), white bread, and any other ingredient that you cannot pronounce.

In fact, you are looking for foods without ingredients. Oats, fruit, veg, eggs, meat, nuts and suchlike. Eating clean also means packing healthy meals for work, eating healthy when you go out to restaurants, cutting out alcohol (or seriously limiting it), eating 5-6 small meals a day, and ALWAYS eating breakfast.

The most common way people go wrong in this diet is by simply being misguided as to what ‘healthy’ is.

I was ignorant for many years as to what constitutes a healthy diet. Low-fat meals and snacks are healthy, right? Not if they're loaded with sugar or sweetener as a substitute (some sort of additive will need to replace fat in order to maintain palatability). Sure, it might be a bit calorific, but there's nothing much wrong with a freshly-made lunch from somewhere like your local deli, right?

Think again. When it comes to eating clean, any ‘fast food’ outlet is a no go. Even your freshly prepared sandwiches are fresh only because the bread and contents are packed full of preservatives. Note: bread should not stay fresh longer than 1 day!

The trouble is, due to the ‘low calorie, low-fat options, fast food outlets can market themselves as being ‘healthy’, as you may be able to lose weight (based on the simple maths that if calories in < calories out there will be inevitable results). Will you feel on top of the World? No. Your body needs fresh food to really come alive.

Other traps in the Eating Clean issue

Margarine, which was for many years my butter substitute and is touted as being the 'healthy' alternative, is processed so much that many margarines are just 1 molecule away from being plastic. Butter, however, has no chemical treatments, is arguably more satisfying which means you’ll actually eat less.

People need to change the belief that saturated fat is a no-go. It is perfectly fine in moderation, in its pure form. Fat is preferable to sugar in almost every situation.

Sugar creates energy highs and lows that leave you needing more food to get out of the slump. Any sugar that isn't burned off will be stored as fat anyway and it is all too easy to overeat on sugary snacks. Fat is filling. It does not produce energy spikes. It is an essential food group. Good fats are fantastic for weight loss, if used sensibly.

And what about diet colas and that exceptionally physical specimen who appears half naked in a certain TV advert? Sadly, you don’t see many of his sort supping fervently on their cans. Diet drinks are a no go, being merely an artificial chemical concoction which will play havoc with your insides, doing nothing for health and wellbeing and actually increasing sugar cravings! Use as an occasional treat , but don’t be fooled by the 'healthy' image... it’s purely a marketing ploy.

How to ensure your Clean Eating plan is a success

Stay Focused

If you have incorporated eating clean into your diet, it is important to always keep your goals in the back of your mind. When you are tempted to have some fast food or any other bad meal remember what you are trying to accomplish. A few cheat meals are no problem, but to feel and see results quickly limit to one a week.

Prepare

Prior to my decision to eat clean, I always forgot to pack my lunch the night before. Being that I like to sleep until the last possible minute, this always resulted in me deciding to grab something downstairs from the limited lunchtime supermarket choices. I was thinking that the salad isn’t that bad.

And while it isn’t, just because you are eating salad doesn’t mean you are eating healthy. Hidden fat, sugar, salt, chemicals and preservatives. Yuck! Just have a look at the list of ingredients. Anything you don't recognise, probably isn't good!

If you can prepare your week’s food at the weekend, you're already well on the way. This makes it a lot easier to just pack everything up the night before to make sure that we eat healthy at work. Sure, eating chicken at lunch can get boring, but you can change seasonings - you want your food to be as tasty as possible. I’ve found that I am content with my eating, especially since I am eating every 3 hours.

For those who travel a lot, be prepared. Many people feel that it is hard to eat healthy when they travel to work, but the truth is that you can eat exactly the same way if you pack your food (or shop when you get there) and cook it in the microwave. Sure, you may have to go out to dinner with a client or co-workers, but there are always healthy options on the menu. Rather than choosing a burger like everyone else, choose a piece of lean fish with a veggie side.

Be Patient (for about 3 weeks)

When the going gets tough, remember that you get back exactly what you put in. Its about taking control and making a concerted effort at first. After around 3 weeks, it will become habitual and therefore second-nature.

You may have a desk-job, but that doesn’t mean you cannot eat clean. If you bring healthy snacks (protein shakes, fruit, veggies, no-salt almonds) then you shouldn’t be hungry while you work.

As an athlete I have found my tiredness levels are reduced, my stomach is far more settled, and I just feel better, stronger and more alert. Plus, eating more good fat has had no impact on my weight; in fact I am gradually getting leaner.

About the Author

Alice Hector is a triathlete and proudly sponsored by Gould Publication Papers. You can follow Alice’s progress at www.alice-hector.com. And if you’d like Gould to take some weight off your costs by managing your paper supply please call us on +44 (0)1372 888006 or use this contact form.