I know how it feels like to be overweight , we can’t fit into those skinny jeans so easily, can’t wear those pencil skirts confidently and overall our heart feels a gap between itself and the entire world. If a healthy heart is the ultimate benefit of being fit I would say that confidence is one other element of being fit and beautiful from within. Definitely I would be more confident when am fit and feels like the world is in my hands if I wear a beautiful dress and look beautiful to the world. Ok now the concept of beauty is very broad and let’s confine to the beauty that comes from a healthy and fit body and not anything else.
We all know weight loss = 70% of clean food + 30% of physical activity
Let me break this golden sentence for you in simple terms(it is already simple isn’t it!)
If you eat mindlessly and workout daily, you are not going to lose weight
If you eat clean and do not exercise ,weight loss occurs buts at a very slow pace and as you progress it becomes difficult to eat more and more less..
Now if you put good effort on eating clean and combine it with exercise that’s an easy route to SUCCESS..
Yes clean eating takes a major share in your weight loss. Let’s explore this.
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is the process of eating foods that are wholesome, real and are not processed or minimally processed, not refined and are very close to natural or their original form. Eating clean involves consuming the below foods but are not limited to
- Wholesome foods
- Real foods
- Un-processed or minimally processed foods
- Un-refined foods
- Reduced intake of artificial sweeteners
The idea is to consume foods that are closest to their original form instead of eating foods that are highly modified and packaged in industries. For example, if you are used to eat lots of cakes that are made in bakeries, that is not considered as clean eating. If you make a fresh bowl of beaten yogurt with fresh fruits, it is considered as eating clean to some extent. Clean eating is pretty simple when you know few bits of information.Before we get to know what kinds of foods come under clean eating, let’s clean our cupboards with these very bad processed foods.
What comes under Processed food?
Let me tell you every food that we eat undergo some processing like cutting mangoes from tree, butter separated from milk etc. which comes under regular or mechanical processing which is quite essential but what we need to know is that the processed food we are talking about is that certain foods are chemically refined and stripped of nutrients and also modified with excess suagrs,salt and fats to increase the shelf life, These are extremely dangerous to not only our waist but also risk the overall health.
When am investing an hour of my time every day for physical exercise why would I want to waste that effort by eating these highly processed foods shown below ?
By now, you would have got some idea, yes processed and refined foods are those you will find in bakeries,super market aisles wrapped in fancy coloured packets, tins, boxes, pouches etc. We call them read made soups, ready to eat rice,noodles,curries, cakes, biscuits, white flour bread, sweets made of white flour and sugar, ice creams, cola drinks, flavoured drinks, flavoured yogurts, highly processed meats, eggs whites packed in pouches, sugar loaded cereals, refined and bleached flours, refined grains , hot dogs, sandwich fillers, mayonnaise, jams, ready to eat burgers, donuts and basically anything that is manufactured in an industry.
Are all ‘processed foods’ bad for us?
Ok, certain foods are processed for good to remove bacteria etc like milk etc which we don’t consider them as processed foods. While I don’t count the instant oats as ‘very much’ processed, I feel the sugar loaded cereals boxes are highly processed to make them more appealing to your tongue.So please understand the idea behind the word processed and apply your general knowledge while choosing these foods.
Now why are processed foods bad for weight loss?
Have you ever wondered how come your ready-to-eat chicken tikka masala stays in its form though originaally cooked some 6 months ago? Oh dear, the very basic thought of me eating something that has been cooked months ago is seriously passing shivers in my spine. These ready to eat foods are highly processed with excess amounts of sodium,fats etc to increase their shelf life and give you comfort at the cost of your health.Those excess amounts cause immense problems to our waistline and heart and for the overall fitness of our body. If you eat a piece of sponge cake that is topped with butter cream frosting and hit mat that evening there is no way that you are losing weight. While they are easy to pick up from a super market aisle, it is not that easy to lose the weight caused by eating such fast foods.
The excess fats,sugars,salt and bad refined carbs increase the calorie intake that’s helps in accumulating fat.Now if our goal is to lose weight, how can we look at eating these foods that neither help us melt fat nor give us any health benefits and most of the times the pleasure of eating these foods is momentary…the moment I finish licking the last spoon of my ice cream tub(just 1£ for a big Tub in Asda) I start nagging my family by questioning why I have eaten that and why they did not stop me from doing so.My heart knew that it is a bad choice for my body and hence its just a matter of controlling that one second of temptation(which I have almost mastered these days )
Afterall, one life, why do we want to struggle hard by eating these plastic foods? Let’s make use of nature bounty and indulge in wholesome natural foods that are both tasty as well as healthy to our bodies.
Why say NO to processed foods when you are trying to lose weight?
Processed foods are rich in excess amounts of salt, sugar and fats. These add extra calories to the body than it needs which cause the body to build fat layers and also negate any exercise effects you are putting in.Remember we need a calorie deficit and that’s possible only through eating fresh real foods. Result is EXCESS AND UNWANTED CALORIES
Processed foods are very tongue and taste friendly due to the excess amounts of sugar, salt and fats in it. You normally tend to eat a Choco bar than a bowl of fresh yogurt though you knew yogurt is good for your body. These foods make you crave you for more portions thus again leading to excess calories and mind it with almost zero nutrition. Result is ADDICTION AND OVER CONSMPTIOM
Processed foods are rich in carbohydrates, now we all need to eat carbs for energy supply to our body but that should come from wholesome real foods. The carbs that come from the processed foods are highly refined and are of no nutritional value at all. These are mostly simple carbohydrates which body will be able to break them very easily and make you crave for more food in a less time. Bottom line is that processed foods are rich in SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES that requires less time and energy to digest which is not good for weight loss.
Processed food contain less fibre content. Now fibre is very essential when you are trying to lose weight as it tends you to keep you full for a long time and also lessen the need to consume more carbohydrates. When the food is highly and chemically processed it stripes of the natural fibre content in it. For example, apple jam doesn’t contain as much fibre as that of a fresh apple. Result is LESS INTAKE OF FIBRE.
Also in general, processed food contain lots of chemicals and preservatives that doesn’t do any good to our body as they don’t contain any essential nutrients, they are like slow poison and remember weight loss journey is not merely for losing weight but also to make our healthy perfect overall. Processed foods contain ADDITIVES, PRESERVATIES and LESS NUTRIENTS.
TOP PROCESSED FOODS TO AVOID OR TO CONSUME VERY OCASSIONALLY
- Ready to eat meals(rice,pasta,curries,noodles,soups,pizzas,crepes,pancakes)
- Packaged crisps, wafers, candies,chips,chocolates
- Frozen fries,fish fingers,breaded chicken nuggets,cheese fingers,hashbrowns etc
- Tinned vegetable with certain levels of salt,sugar and preservatives
- White bread and products made of white refined flours
- Sugary breakfast cereals,fruit loops etc
- Processed meats like bacon,ham,chicken strips,
- White sugar,(minimise brown sugar also),artificial sweeteners
- Diet colas, aerated drinks, packaged sugar loaded fruit juices,
What kind of processed foods I can eat as part of a healthy diet while trying to lose weight?
Not all processed foods are bad always.I am a rice eater and cannot ignore it for the sake of weight loss, so as bread or pasta for you as these kind of carbs form the base for our meal plates. While there are many varieties of rice, pasta, breads it is worth to choose the whole grain varieties that would have undergone very less processing. I would definitely not be making bread on my own for daily intake so I prefer to choose the whole meal varieties that’s available in my local bakery. The wholemeal bread contains more fibre and complex carbs which makes body to take longer to digest and that’s want we want while we are trying to lose weight. I love white rice but cannot really avoid it as a whole so I would reduce the portion sizes and also include whole grain brown rice for my daily needs. It’s a matter of personal choice as well.
- Try to check the ingredient label of the product you choose. This label provides you info on amount of carbs,f at, saturated fat ,fibre, protein etc. Make sure the food does not contain more added sugars, salts and also saturated fats like Vanaspati etc.Few of the minimally processed food are listed below
- Milk, plant based unsweetened milk like soya,almond,coconut
- Wholegrain cereals ,rice, pasta, bread,limited portions of white rice
- Frozen fruits/vegetables with no added sugars,salts, preservatives
- Frozen fish(not smoked or breaded)
- Tinned vegetables with less amounts of salt, sugar(check the label and ingredients)
- Roasted unsalted nuts, dried fruits,seeds
- Energy bars made of whole grains,natural sugars lie honey,maple (check labels)
- Nut Butters free of added sugars,salts(peanut,almond,mixed nut)
- Plant or whey protein with less added sugars.
- Fresh pressed fruit or vegetable juices(check labels for sugar,salt)
Ok, now if we are eliminating all these processed foods in our diet, the question is what to eat? Answer is simple
EAT REAL FOOD AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, it is free of excess salts,sugars,fats and bad calories.
Real food is the food which we grew up eating with. Real food is not chemically much processed or loaded with preservatives that add extra calories to our waistline, These are the foods that are in their original form and form and offer full nutrition to my body.Now am not going to discuss much on whether to choose organic or normal varieties as the whole point of this article is to focus on healthy weight loss. Choosing to eat less processed food should be your aim when you are trying to shed pounds.Try to include the below foods as much as possible in your diet and follow portion control to speeden up your weight loss. Your body will thank you for supplying these foods in the right quantities. Eating clean doesn’t mean a stringent set of rules to be followed.It is the idea of including whole foods in your daily life so it becomes part of your lifestyle rather than a special diet.
- Whole grains like brown rice, wholemeal bread, wholemal pasta, quinoa,wholemal cous cous
- Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen fruits/vegetables with no additives
- Dairy products like milk,eggs,plain yogurts,cheese
- Freshly cut meats(not the processed bacon,ham,chicken)
- Natural sweeteners like honey,pure maple syrup,dates
- Dried fruit,unsalted nuts,seeds,home made popcorn
- Water,fresh fruit and vegetable juices,coffee/tea(with natural sweeteners), minimal amount of alcohol
11 PRACTICAL STEPS TO MASTER CLEAN EATING
Step 1 : Maintain a food diary and analyse your eatubg habits
I cannot tell you how effective and simple step it is to start with. Just take a plain old notebook and start noting down all the meals whatever you eat. This really gives you an idea of what you are consuming throughout the day .Now there are many fancy apps to log your food but I realised this is the best and simple way , you can scroll through the pages easily and tell you what, sometimes you will feel guilty to write about the extremely fatty foods that you ate unnecessarily and that could be a wakeup call for some sort of clean eating.Please log this continuously for 2 weeks at least. Write down everything you eat including tea coffee and everything that goes into your mouth.
Step 2 :Identify the processed or refined foods in breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
It’s time to revise our food diaries and understand what are all the refined and processed foods. For example, you might be eating frozen hashbrowns, sausages, white bread, sugar loaded cereals, cornflakes for breakfast. Likewise pasta,white rice, white flour tortiallas, store bought sandwiches and tinned soups for lunch and dinner etc.Talk about ice-creams and chcolates,cookies for snacks, underline all these type of foods from each meal. While we cannot make changes for all of the meals overnight ;et’s aim at changing one meal in the beginning and switch to wholefoods.. Pick breakfast initially and try to have a plan to fill it with more wholesome foods and so we can gradually spread it all meals.
Step 3 : Do grocery shopping for whole foods.
So you have identified that there are lots of processed and refined foods in breakfast from your food diary. As we have picked up breakfast and want to fill it with wholesome foods, let’s shop mindful. Instead of white bread, let’s shop for half and half white-brown bread initially. Am more than happy if you prefer to switch to wholemeal bread directly as it will not taste bad at all. Please opt for wholegrains, fresh fruits, freshly squeezed smoothies, eggs, sprouts etc for breakfast and shop the ingredients according to your according to your food choices, this time you are not going to buy any ready meals or frozen meals or any sugar loaded breakfast cereals .You culd buy frozen fruits as well to incude in smoothies,yogurt etc
Step 4 : Mix and match your taste buds with whole foods, vegetables and processed food
Make a difference in daily meals by including more of wholefoods and processed foods in lesser quantities. Remember we are trying to gradually make changes to our life style to make them last longer and also utilising the already available processed food in your home for the very last time. Switch the white bread-butter combo to wholemeal toast with butter combo. As you practice it gradually ,you will be able to switch butter with healthy fats like mashed avocado, hummus etc. Similarly if you are eating more of white rice/pasta, start cooking with half white-half brown grains until you get used to the taste.Ty to include more vegetables in your plate along with lean protein like eggs, fish, chicken ,chickpeas, lentils, beans, greek yogurts, .If you are using butter in baking, try to replace with cream cheese which is little lighter and gradually shift to healthy fats like coconut oil etc. It will be tough to switch to clean eating all of a sudden so work your way into it with small baby steps as there is nothing wrong in it.f
Step 5 : Follow this strategy for water intake
Needless to say, water is the most important part of clean eating and is the easiest and cheapest way to implement it for weight loss. It helps to keep your body hydrated and remove excess toxins from the body. It also keeps you full and prevents you from overeating. You should at least start drinking 2 litres per day. Now if you are a person who solely depends on diet colas,alcohol for your fluid dose, its time to change. Water is calorie free and does wonders to your body irrespective of weight loss.I usually follow the below strategy for hitting the daily goal of 2-3 litres a day. As it is difficult to drink more water at a time I usually split the intake through out the day.
After brushing- 2 to 3 glasses
Between breakfast and mid morning snack – 1/2litre
After mid morning snack and lunch -1/4 litre
Btw lunch and afternoon snack -1/2 litre
After afternoon snack and dinner -few more glasses
While doing workouts- at least 1 litre.
I usually keep sipping water at work and try to achieve the above mini goals. You could also count in fresh smoothies, green tea etc.
Step 6 : Repeat step 4 with more whole foods this time
Once you practice the above steps for few weeks you will need to show some improvement. Try switching more of your refined foods to wholefoods at a greater rate than before as you will have been used to the benefits of clean eating already. Identify all the gaps and fill with nutritious foods and more vegetables and fruits. Include protein in every meal like eggs, beans, lentils, pulses, yogurt, soya, tofu,lean meats,fish , cottage cheese etc as it helps to build lean muscle that boost up metabolism amd helps melt fat.If you have a sweeth tooth,make a batch of home made protein balls or granola bars or any home made treats that can satisfy your sweet tooth as well as your weight loss goals. Fill your plate with complex carbs,lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables.Snack on nuts,seeds,dried fuits etc.Replace white sugar with natural sweeteners like honey,pure maple syrup etc. Do not get scared of fats , eat healthy fats like avocados,olive oils,fish for omega oil etc. Drink plenty of water and minimise alcohols diet sodas etc. Gradually replace all of the processed foods in your diet by steady changes.
Step 7 : Clean up your freezer and kitchen cupboard
Now that you are on your way to clean eating, you should identify the triggers that prevent you from continuing clean eating. Its time to clean up your freezer by removing all processed frozen ready-to-eat meals,lollies,hashbrowns,sausages except frozen fruits and vegetables.Remove all the white flours,refined grains and replace with wholemeal flours,wholegrains like brown rice, brown pasta,quinoa, wholemeal cous cous etc.Buy nuts like almonds, walnuts, dried fruits and chia seeds that offer more fibre content to your body. Buying wholefoods is not as costly as you think.Check outsuper market deals after 6PM,they usually sell many perishable goods like fruits,vegetables for lesser price that are nearing to expiry date,Infact they don’t get spoiled very soon if you store them properly.Also for wholegrains there is no much cost difference or the proce change is very minimal. After all,we are eating these healthy foods for the betterment of our bodies and lives,its better to spend on healthy eating rather than to buy costly medicines later in life.
Step 8 : Start planning 5-6 meals a day
Once you switched all your processed foods to more wholesome foods, its time to concentrate on portion control and few tactics that help boost up your metabolism. These are the golden rules that helped me in the beginning of my weight loss journey. It is not just enough if you choose to eat healthy foods,you will have to follow certain simple steps like portion control, frequent meals which keeps you full for longer times and also boost up your metabolism. When you choose to eat frequent meals every few hours you will never starve of foods and when you eat in smaller portions you are not loading yourself with more calories that gets converted to fat in your body. Test on yourself and see the difference if you are a person who used to eat 3 heavy meals a day. It certainly helps!
Step 9 : Decide on your cheat day
Okay, you have come this far and made many changes to your life style in terms of eating clean but we ant to keep it going forever rather than just a couple of months. So we need some cheat days to be planned in order to keep us motivated enough. Once in a day, indulge in your favourite foods whatever you like but keep in certain limits. Try your level best to choose healthier options if not try to follow portion control. Try to eat your favourite processed but try to eat them durig day rather than for lunch as your body will be more active over the day.If you want to indulge in sweets ice creams or fried foods make it for lunch and eat light on dinner. This way you will still be able to enjoy your cheat meals with less side effects on your waist line.These kind of cheat days also gives your more energy to continue eating healthy for the coming weeks.
Step 10 : Practice home cooking policy and choose foods smartly in restaurants
You can automate clean eating policy with home cooking. Most of the foods available in markets are made of simple carbohydrates, sugars and contain excess of fats,sodium etc. They are very unhealthy and packed with loads of unwanted calories. The best thing you can do for your weight loss is to cook food at home with mindful ingredients and portions.You get to eat fresh and seasonal food with simple cooking methods. Explore the internet for healthy and quick recipes and make a weekly menu. It is a more economical and budget friendly too.
When you need to eat outside or partying at restaurants try to choose grilled options and salads with minimal dressings .Avoid fried foods or starters and proceed to main course with proteins like grilled chicken salmon, baked falafals etc along with fresh salads. Ask the staff to bring dressings in a separate bowl so you can have control on the portion of fat and salts .If eating in Indian restaurants, try to stay away from fat loaded curries or limit portions, opt for tandoori or grilled items.
Step 11 : If you fail, start it all over again
Yes, its not uncommon to fail when you want to achieve something in life. Any goal involves lots of determination and dedication; as we are humans we quite often fail, that should not stop us from doing good things in life. If you fail to eat clean for a week, don’t get disheartened .take your time and start it again. Failures are the stepping stones for success, While am writing this post, I admit that this is my 11th days of bad eating, but nothing stops me from re-starting the clean eating plan from today’s dinner!