Adopting a cleaner diet doesn’t necessarily mean going on intermittent fasts or embarking on a crazy new diet. Eating clean stems not just from the food you eat, but equally important, how you eat and your eating environment. These 10 practical tips are a simple yet impactful way towards cultivating a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.
1. Eat from a smaller plate
When your plate is smaller, your portion size appears visually filling compared to a large plate with the same portion size. It’s a good tip to use especially when you’re at a buffet and you want to try everything.
2. Pile on the veg first
Get into the habit of filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables then add the other dishes. This way, you’re making sure you get a healthy amount of those greens. It’s also a good idea to finish all of your greens while you’re at your hungriest, leaving any addition to your appetite to perhaps less healthy sections of your meal.
3. Hide those chips
Ariana Grande once famously sang, “I see it, I want it”. While she probably wasn’t referring to that packet of Doritos siting temptingly on your counter top, keeping unhealthy snacks out of sight is a simple way to curb unhealthy snacking when the hunger pang strikes. Instead, display your healthy food in a prominent place.
4. Take things slow
Simply by eating slower and chewing more often, you can reduce the number of calories you consume. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive signals from your hormones, which tells you whether you’re full or not. The slower you eat, the more time your body has to register its satiety, lowering your risk of overeating.
5. Thirsty or hungry?
More often than not, people sometimes confuse thirst for hunger. And if you’re not careful, you may be chomping down those calories unnecessarily. The same part of our brain is responsible for perceiving hunger and thirst signals, which may lead to mixed signals. When ‘hunger’ strikes, try drinking a tall glass of water and wait it out for a bit. If your stomach still grumbles, you’re probably hungry. It’s a good habit to stay hydrated throughout your day, not just when you’re thirsty—it helps to curb cravings and helps to rid our body and skin of pesky toxins.
6. Don’t skip meals
“If I don’t eat…I won’t gain any weight”—as logical as it might sound, it’s an ineffective, unhealthy and unsustainable way to shed the pounds. When you skip out on a meal, you’re very likely to overeat during your next meal. By eating regularly throughout the day, it ensures your metabolism is at the top of its game and you’re full of energy, at the same time reducing the risk of overeating at the next meal.
7. Inter-meal snacking is allowed
Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself reaching for snacks, just make sure they’re low in protein, fibre and complex carbs. When you go too long without eating, snacking in between meals can help you avoid overeating later.
8. Don’t be fooled
We’ve all been there—we reach for the “low-fat” version of our favourite ice cream, and mentally give ourselves a pat on the back for our attempt at eating clean. But be careful when it comes to “diet foods”, which is often labelled as “fat-free”, “low-fat”, “low calorie” etc. In some cases, to compensate for the lost flavour and texture, sugar and other ingredients are added, and may end up containing more sugar and even calories than the original version.
9. Are dried berries all that healthy?
Aren’t berries healthy? Sure, they are! They are high in fibre and antioxidants: they are superfoods, after all. At supermarkets, you can get them in their various renditions: dried, fresh and frozen. While they’re all relatively healthy, dried berries tend to contain a higher concentrate of sugar and calories, since all the water has been removed. When you can, opt for the fresh version of your berries.
10. Get plenty of sleep
I know, the struggle is real. It always seems like a great idea to binge watch 5 episodes of your favourite Netflix show, until the morning after. Sleeping early and getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep should be a priority for everyone. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation leads to disrupted appetite regulation, affected concentration, performance and lowered metabolism. So, as much as you’re dying to find out what happens on the next episode, remember that health is wealth.