The best way to make a major lifestyle change is to make a series of small, conscious changes to your everyday routine. In time, they’ll add up to a big shift in your diet and to your overall level of health.
Anyone can benefit from these 53 ways to clean up your diet, whether you’re just easing into a clean eating routine or you’re an old pro at the SkinnyMs. lifestyle.
1. Ditch refined grains
That bag of white flour sitting in your pantry? Toss it. Processed grains are stripped of important nutrients, namely fiber. Instead, give one of these whole grain recipes a try: Whole Grain Penne Pasta with Greens and Beans, Whole Grain Tortillas, Easy Whole Grain Cinnamon Pita Chips, or Whole Grain Banana Blueberry Pancakes.
2. Cut out sugar
Sugar—the added kind, not naturally found in foods—has an adverse effect on our bodies and minds. Try our 30-Day No Sugar Challenge to change your perspective on the sweet stuff and try one of these No Sugar Added Skinny Dessert Recipes.
3. Use a juicer
Drinking homemade juice is a fast-track way to infuse your system with vitamins, minerals and enzymes from several fruits and veggies at once. Try our Mean Green Juice to get started.
4. Replace processed grains with whole grain
Eating more whole grains reduces your risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Try our Whole Grain Cinnamon Pita Chips.
5. Eat healthy grains
Grains are far from off limits, just make them the healthy kind, like quinoa, oats and barley. Here are 40 Delicious Quinoa Recipes You’ll Love.
6. Give up soda
Soda is packed with calories and sugar that rot your teeth and bloat your belly. The diet kind is bad too; it leads to an increased risk for metabolic syndrome. Opt for tea, black coffee, sparkling water or just plain H20 instead. Try our 30-Day No Soda Challenge.
7. Drink more water
Nothing will flush your system faster than drinking more water. If you have a hard time guzzling it down, make your own flavored water infused with fresh lemon wedges or orange slices. Try one of these Fat-Flushing Water Recipes.
8. Eliminate processed foods
Processed foods are high in sugar, corn syrup and unhealthy trans fats. Clean up your diet by ditching them. Hint: the more ingredients on the label, the more likely it needs to go. asd 30 Delicious Reasons to Eat Clean.
9. Avoid GMOs
GMO stands for genetically modified organism. It’s a food that has been altered from its natural state with genetic engineering—think supersize fruits and pest resistant crops. While GMOs are currently allowed by the FDA, there’s insufficient evidence to prove they’re safe to eat over many years.
10. Go organic
Certified organic foods cannot be genetically modified, and they don’t contain the harsh pesticides associated with traditional meat and produce. Read our helpful list of Do’s and Don’ts for Going Organic.
11. Buy cage-free eggs
Aside from being more cruelty-free than eggs from hens kept in battery cages, cage-free eggs are cleaner and less prone to disease. Whip up our egg and spinach bowls for an easy on-the-go breakfast.
12. Shop the perimeter
You’ve likely heard this one before; foods around the outer edge of the grocery store, like produce, fresh fish, poultry and dairy are generally healthier and more likely to be “whole” foods than those in the center aisles. Be sure to bring along our list of 50 Superfoods- The Ultimate Grocery List.
13. Read the ingredients
The ingredients list is a surefire way to make a snap decision whether or not to eat something. If there’s an ingredient you’ve never heard of or can’t pronounce, it won’t do any good for your clean eating efforts. Learn more about these 7 Nutritional Label Mistakes to Avoid.
14. Think of food as fuel
When you change the way you look at food, you’ll be less likely to crave indulgent dishes to make you “feel good.” Try to think of food as fuel for your body to function. Just like with a car, the higher quality fuel you put in, the better the resulting performance. Try these Energy Foods to Fight Fatigue.
15. Shrink your serving size
Americans are notorious for massive portion sizes. When you cook at home, serve yourself on a salad plate rather than a traditional dinner plate. At a restaurant, ask in advance for your server to box half your portion to take with you. Read up on these Tips for Portion Control and try our 7-Day Portion Control Menu.
16. Cook dinner at home
Getting active in the kitchen is the only way to know exactly what you’re eating. When you cook at home, you’ll avoid the excessive oils, fats and sugars that are used in most commercial kitchens. Let our SkinnyMs. Recipe Collection help!
17. Brown bag your lunch
If you work in an office setting, lunch can be one of the biggest pitfalls to a clean diet. Pack a light salad or healthy wrap instead of grabbing takeout. These 21 clean lunches can be prepared in under 10 minutes.
18. Eat breakfast
Studies have shown that eating a healthy breakfast on a daily basis is a proven way to lose weight and keep it off. Our 7-Day Breakfast Menu is as healthy as it is yummy. Also, be sure to check out our Break
19. Spice things up
Rich spices like chili pepper and cumin are a great alternative to fattening sugar and unhealthy salt. You’re also likely to eat less of a spicy dish than a savory one because of the intense flavor. This Spicy Chili with Fire Roasted Tomatoes is a clean eating crowd pleaser.
20. Cut back on salt
The average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium per day; that’s 1,000 mg more than the recommended daily intake. Cutting your salt intake will lower your risk of heart disease and reduce water retention that causes you to feel bloated.
21. Practice ‘everything in moderation’
It’s easy to go to extremes when you’re trying to keep a clean diet. But if you completely rule out your favorite foods, you’re bound to fall off the wagon sooner or later. Allow yourself to indulge in your most-loved dishes once in a while, even if they break the clean eating rules.
22. Buy local
Shop your local farmer’s market for an excellent selection of fresh produce (often organic) and grass-fed beef and dairy. You’ll likely find it tastes better than the mass-produced selection at the supermarket. Our Farmer’s Market Shopping Guide will help you get the most out of your local farmer’s market.
23. Eat “real food”
The closer a food is to its “whole” form, the better. Aim to make the majority of your meals with foods that have no added “ingredients,” i.e. bananas, apples, chicken breast, brown rice, etc. Here are more Reasons to Eat Clean.
25. Snack on fiber-rich fruits
Fruits like oranges, raspberries and bears are high in fiber, which helps you feel full and cleans out your system. Here are some more Reasons You Need Fiber in Your Diet.
26. Munch on water-filled foods
Snacks like celery, cucumber and watermelon are made up mostly of water, which means they’re low on calories but will still fill you up. Try our flavorful Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad.
27. Pack healthy snacks
When you have healthy snacks on hand, you’re less likely to visit the vending machine. Pick a few munchies from our list of 50 Clean Eating Snacks and keep them in your purse or desk drawer at all times.
28. Cook with fresh herbs
Fresh herbs are more potent than their dried counterparts. Many common seasonings like oregano, rosemary and peppermint also pack a powerful dose of antioxidants, which fight free radicals.
29. Freeze fruits for snacks and smoothies
Frozen fruit is just as nutritious and delicious as the fresh kind. It’s great for using in smoothies and eats almost like a frozen dessert, particularly frozen blueberries and bananas. Try our nutrient rich Blueberry Banana Smoothie.
30. Make your own dressings
Dressings are one of the worst offenders for making otherwise healthy meals unfriendly. Make your own flavorful dressings at home with clean ingredients; we’ve got 11 for you to try here.
31. Practice meal prep
Have a few healthy meals in the freezer at all times for easy access. This way, you’re less likely to resort to ordering a pizza or grabbing takeout on a busy weeknight. Here are 14 Healthy Freezer Meals that will make your life easier.
32. Make healthy swaps
There’s nothing wrong with tricking your taste buds with a cleaner ingredient. Swap Greek yogurt in place of sour cream and use mashed cauliflower to mimic mashed potatoes.
33. Try veggie noodles
You don’t have to give up pasta to clean up your diet—simply make it with a clean eating ingredient. Carrots and zucchini take the place of traditional pasta nicely. Try our Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce.
34. Say goodbye to traditional milk
Believe it or not, traditional dairy milk isn’t as healthy as you might think. Most store brands are filled with hormones and antibiotics. Try switching to a dairy alternative, like soy milk or almond milk.
35. Throw some spinach on… everything
Spinach is superfood filled with nutrients, and it’s also super easy to mix in with almost any kind of dish, from pastas to casseroles and even smoothies. If you love Mexican food, give our Spinach and Bean Burrito Wraps a try.
36. Drink your meals
Smoothies are a wonderful way to reap the benefits of multiple healthy ingredients at once. Plus, there’s nothing easier to grab on the go. If you’re new to the smoothie world, our Skinnylicious Protein Smoothie is a good place to start.
37. Clean up what you drink
Alcoholic beverages are a prime suspect for adding unnecessary calories to your day. Stick to one drink maximum daily—red wine is a perfect pick for its antioxidants.
38. Lose fried foods
There’s a reason America’s collective waistline is bulging—it’s partially because we’re so used to frying everything! Bake and grill meats and veggies instead of frying them in unhealthy oil. These Baked Zucchini Chips are an awesome alternative to French fires or potato chips.
39. Eat less meat
One serving of a piece of meat is about the size of a deck of cards—crazy when you think about the massive size of a typical steak. Incorporate leaner protein sources in a few of your meals per week. Think Portobello mushrooms, tofu, beans, etc.
40. Consider a cleanse
A cleanse is a way to rid your body of toxins that are slowing it down and blocking the absorption of nutrients. Try our Three-Day Cleanse and Detox to help your body feel refreshed.
41. Don’t use food to feel good
It’s not uncommon to look at food as a reward or a means of cheering yourself up on a bad day. Instead, lift your spirits with other things, like fitness, family or a hobby you enjoy .
42. Don’t let restaurants fool you
When you’re dining out, ‘salad’ might not be synonymous with ‘healthy’ due to preparation methods and added dressings. Follow our 5 Tips For Eating Healthy When You’re Eating Out to avoid restaurant regret.
43. Avoid getting famished
When you reach a point where your stomach is growling from hunger, you’re much more likely to have lapses in judgment when it comes to your diet. Reach for a healthy snack every few hours to avoid getting to that point in the first place.
44. Eat the rainbow
Brightly colored fruit and veggies contain powerful antioxidants that absorb free radicals. Aim to eat a rainbow of foods, like tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, Brussels sprouts and beets. Our Roasted Beet Salad is a nice way to break into using beets in your meals.
45. Wash your fruits and veggies
Produce that’s straight from the store can have pesticides on the surface. Mix three parts water to one part white vinegar for a natural produce rinse.
46. Grow your own garden
What better way to have your pick of fresh, nutritious ingredients than to have them growing in your own backyard? Green beans, carrots and cucumbers are easy veggies to get started with. Get started today with our Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening.
47. Eat the peels
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, most of their nutritious goodies, protein and fiber are in their peels. This goes for apples, pears, cucumbers, potatoes, pears and more.
48. Go nuts for nuts
Nuts are a healthy source of protein, heart-healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Grab a handful of buts with a low number of calories per ounce, like almonds, cashews or pistachios. Our yummy Almond Crusted Tilapia is an easy low-fat option.
49. Top sandwiches with avocado
It doesn’t just taste good, the green fruit is filled with the good kind of fat that helps lower your cholesterol. Mashed avocado is a great replacement for mayo on sandwiches and wraps. You’ll love our Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich and our Italian Caprese Sandwich with Avocado.
50. Eat mindfully
Take smaller bites, chew more slowly, and really savor the taste of your food. It’s a guaranteed way to eat less. Try these Tips.
51. Sip some tea
Green tea contains bioactive substances that help you burn more calories. It’s a healthy alternative to sugary sodas and bottled juices.
52. Try new superfoods
Blueberries and salmon are phenomenal, but don’t count out the lesser-known superfoods like rutabaga, chia seeds, and chard. Here are 16 Ways to Make Chia Seeds a Part of Every Meal.
53. Treat yourself
We’re all human, and no one can eat a clean diet 100% of the time. Every once in a while, it’s okay to treat yourself to a serving of real ice cream or a good old fashioned burger. When you eat clean the rest of the time, splurging will feel extra special and won’t come with a side dish of guilt.
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