Eating Clean: What Works, What Doesn’t.
Do you find yourself thinking, “I really want my family to eat better, but it never works.”
Here are the 10 Top Clean Eating Mistakes & How to Fix Them
Have you decided to eat clean to get your family on a healthy start? Did you decide to eat clean to lose weight? Did you decide to eat clean simply because you know it’s what you should be doing?
Well, here are some tips on what to do and what not to do.
WEIGHT LOSS: Want to lose a few pounds & eating clean but seeing no progress? Wonder why your diet doesn’t work? Clean eating is supposed to be easy and straightforward. Yet, most people make common mistakes, such as eating too much fruit or overindulging in healthy foods. So let’s get one thing straight: clean eating isn’t a diet or a quick fix to weight loss. It’s a lifestyle choice that takes commitment and determination. Your goal is to make wise choices for life not for a month. If you see it as a diet, your efforts are doomed to fail.
This eating pattern gives people the freedom to feed their bodies with whole, nutritious foods. Once you embrace it, you’ll enjoy better health and get leaner. When done right, clean eating boosts immune function, prevents diseases, and leads to fat loss. If it’s not working for you, then you’re probably doing something wrong that we can correct. Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn from your mistakes.
I’ve compiled this information to help you figure out what you’re doing wrong about the way you are eating and what you can do to make it right. You’ll learn about the most common healthy eating mistakes and how to fix them. I have also included less obvious blunders that sabotage your efforts. By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll know what clean eating looks like and how to make it work for you.
Let’s see the most common clean eating mistakes that keep people from reaching their goals or putting your family on a healthier path:
1. Lacking Consistency
The words “diet” and “clean eating” are often used interchangeably. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. If you think of clean eating as dieting, you’re less likely to stick to it. Dieting involves deprivation and everyone knows it, thus making everyone stress about it. Do you really need more stress? Did you ever notice that the first 3 letters in Diet, spell DIE. Most diets require cutting out entire food groups or skipping meals or totally avoiding something you really love. Clean eating and Lifetime Weight Management, on the other hand, has none of these crazy “rules”. The only thing you need to do is to choose whole, nutritious foods and cook them the right way.
Most people fail to eat clean because they only commit on short term. Since they see it as a diet, they miss the big picture. They stick to clean eating for a month or so, hoping to lose weight or see how their kids like it and then they return to their old habits. Like it or not, you can not reap the benefits by eating clean for a day or two and then indulging in lots of fries and pizza. If you want to have an occasional cheat meal, go for it, but keep it to a minimum. Commit to eating clean at least 80 percent of the time.
2. Overindulging in Healthy Foods
Clean eating isn’t an excuse to overeat. Overindulge in peanut butter, almonds, coconuts, and other healthy foods can still put on the pounds. Except water, all beverages and foods have calories. How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Even though calorie counting isn’t necessary, you should at least have an idea of how many calories you’re taking in. Eating too much of anything can lead to weight gain, indigestion, and poor health. Remember the rule, each serving size should equal the size of your fist. If you are very heavy and therefore have a very large fist and you are looking to lose weight, use half a fist for your portion size.
An example of healthy but high in calories, very healthy Almonds boast more than 600 calories per 100 grams. A tablespoon of peanut butter has 130 calories. There are over 552 calories in one cup of coconut milk, WOW! Maybe opt for Coconut Water or adding Coconut Oil when cooking. Although extremely healthy, one tablespoon of olive oil provides about 120 calories. These foods are super healthy and nutritious, but this doesn’t mean you can overindulge. If you drink two cups of coconut milk and soak your veggies in olive oil, you’re taking in 1500 calories or so and have not even eaten a single meal.
Use an online calculator to determine your daily calorie requirements. If you’re not sure message me for help. As a nutritionist, I have the tools needed to set you on the right path. Watch your portions and eat mindfully. To slim down, swap calorie-laden foods for high-water foods, such as kale, cabbage, spinach, melon, and berries. Regardless of where your calories come from, they can make or break your goals. Clean eating doesn’t guarantee weight loss, but it is another way to nourish your body and teach you to enjoy your food.
3. Replacing Sugar with Artificial Sweeteners
Cutting back on sugar is the first step to clean eating. However, some things are worse than sugar. Saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, and other artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc on your health and mess up your metabolism. These food additives trick your brain into thinking that you’re eating sugar. As a result, your pancreas releases insulin, which promotes fat storage and triggers blood glucose spikes. In the long run, this increases your risk of insulin resistance, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease.
Artificial sweeteners are just as bad as and even worse than sugar. For instance, sucralose has a toxic effect on the body. Studies have linked it to a higher risk of leukemia in mice. When cooked at high temperatures, it releases harmful compounds known as chloropropanols. Aspartame, the most popular sugar substitute, boasts carcinogenic effects. Sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, maltitol, and erythritol, may cause allergic reactions and digestive distress.
If you have a sweet tooth, replace sugar with stevia. This plant-sourced, natural sweetener has no side effects and can be safely used on long term. You can also opt for fruit purees, unsweetened applesauce, cinnamon, vanilla extract, or raw honey. Even though these foods have calories, they’re healthier than sugar and artificial sweeteners and can be easily substituted when cooking or baking.
4. Ditching the Fat
Believe it or not, you must eat fat to burn fat. Load up on heart-healthy fats, such as those found in tuna, salmon, and avocado. Additionally, dietary fat insulates your joints and regulates the body’s temperature. Monounsaturated fats prevent inflammation, boost cardiovascular health, and support brain function. They also reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol levels.
A diet rich in healthy fats will keep you energized and ward off cravings. It may also help you slim down and improve thyroid function. Dietary fat also helps preserve muscle, curbs hunger, and increases your metabolism. Just make sure you avoid trans fats, which are found in junk food, refined oils, processed meats, cookies, cake, fries, and ice cream. Since you’re eating clean, these foods have no place in your diet anyway, except as an occasional treat.
5. Ditching the Salt
A lot of foods have sodium naturally built in. When seasoning your food, choose Salt Free Seasonings, or ones that contain Sea Salt at minimum or Himalayan Salt. If you want to break your habit of salting all your food, put a little salt in the palm of your hand and with your fingers, gently sprinkle a little bit over your food, until you find you don’t need it anymore. When you over salt food, you not only retain extra water in your body, thus retaining weight and bad for hypertension, but you also never get the opportunity to realize how good food actually is. Do yourself a favor and your kids a favor and really taste your food. Hint: Lemon makes a great flavor enhancer too and is good for you. The squeeze of a lemon over fish, vegetables and in soups adds flavor plus calcium, potassium, vitamin C and pectin fiber. So go ahead, make your day and give it a squeeze.
6. Eating Too Much Fruit
Without a doubt, fruits are healthy and nutritious. Just like everything else however, they must be consumed in moderation. Fructose, the sugar in fruits, goes straight to your liver where it’s converted into triglycerides and then stored as fat (unless you burn it for energy). A high fructose intake may lead to diabetes, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and weight gain.
Fructose also promotes the formation of visceral fat, which surrounds your internal organs. Fruit juices pose the highest risk since they lack fiber. Whole fruit contains fiber, which slows sugar absorption into the bloodstream. Dried fruit, dates, grapes, mangoes, bananas, and pomegranates contain the most sugar of all fruits.
Think of fruit as dessert, or when you need something sweet. Enjoy it in moderation and don’t go overboard. If you’re craving fruits all the time, choose low-sugar options, such as rhubarb, avocado, raspberries, or papaya. Most berries are low in carbs and high in fiber, which helps increase satiety. Make your own fruit juices and avoid commercial brands. Freeze your fresh homemade fruit juices in ice cube trays for a refreshing snack. Sparkling water mixed with your fresh squeezed juices, makes a great substitute for soda and is fun for your kids to make. Watch out for the juices and smoothies found in stores, they usually contain added sugar, read your labels.
7. Ignoring Food Labels
Organic foods aren’t necessarily healthier. Some contain large amounts of honey, sugar, coconut oil, dried fruit, and other high-calorie ingredients. Let’s take granola bars, for example. Most brands are made with chocolate chips, dextrose, table sugar, tapioca syrup, sunflower oil, soy lecithin, nuts, and juice concentrate. The number of calories can easily exceed 500 per serving.
Natural foods are even worse since you don’t really know what’s inside. These products are not regulated by the FDA or other health organizations. Actually, there is no definition for the term “natural” and its derivates. It’s not uncommon to see artificial flavors, preservatives, and synthetic dyes listed on the label.
8. Snacking on Protein Bars
Contrary to popular belief, protein bars can do more harm than good. In general, they’re loaded with sugar, high in calories and have too little protein. Some might as well be a Snickers – considering their calorie and carb content. If you’re trying to lose weight, downing a 500-calorie protein bar won’t help. You’d be far better getting those 500 calories from a serving of tuna, two cups of veggies, and a sweet potato, doesn’t that seem more appetizing?
Read the label carefully when choosing a protein/snack bar. Most protein bars are junk food in disguise. If you really love them, make your own homemade versions. Use healthy ingredients, such as hemp protein powder, roasted walnuts, natural peanut butter, oats, raw cocoa, and flax seeds. This way, you’ll eat clean at a fraction of the cost.
9. Removing the Liquid from Greek Yogurt: Don’t Do It
Do you always remove the liquid on top of the yogurt? Big mistake! That liquid is actually a great source of calcium and whey. It’s low in fat and chock-full of protein, offering both flavor and nutrition. Instead of ditching it, try using it as a substitute for water or milk in homemade desserts. Add it to smoothies, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and oatmeal, or stir it in.
10. Not Practicing Intuitive Eating
A common mistake most people make is eating too much or too little. They focus on weight loss or muscle building rather than listening to their bodies. The whole purpose of clean eating is to make smart food choices. This dietary pattern is meant to improve your health. Your body knows best what’s right for it. For example, if your diet lacks magnesium, you’ll crave chocolate. This is your body’s way of telling that it needs that nutrient to function properly.
Listen to your body and eat accordingly. Learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Always ask yourself why you have chosen what you are eating. Ask yourself, is this really something I should be eating or is there a healthier option (one of the best questions you can ask yourself in a restaurant). Foster a healthy relationship with food and train your taste buds to enjoy natural flavors. Remember that clean eating is a lifestyle. It’s your chance and your family’s chance to be healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.
As a Nutritionist and a Lifestyle Weight Management Coach, I’m here to help! Send me an email for more information!
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Peace, Love and Laughter to you and your family,
Teaching parents how to create a healthy physical and emotional environment for a balanced family life.