By Julie Vargo, Editorial Contributor
The old refrain of “Clean your plate” is being replaced with the healthier mantra of “Clean up your diet.”
The concept of clean eating relies on choosing fresh, whole foods instead of processed options high in fat and sugar. “Eating clean is an excellent way to take charge of your health, lose weight and increase energy,” says Michael Arp, a dietitian at Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital. “Other benefits include a decreased risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, lower blood pressure, slower cognitive decline and enhanced bone health.”
Cleaner Plate Club
Cleaning up your diet starts by clearing the pantry of unhealthy fats, sugar, artificial ingredients and unnecessary preservatives. Replace processed foods, salty snacks and sugary desserts with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds/nuts, lean meats and fish.
Next, plan out your plate. “Ideally, half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, kale or spinach, a quarter should be whole grains like brown rice or quinoa, and another quarter should be protein like turkey, chicken or fish,” says Arp.
Finally, keep it colorful. Consuming a rainbow of fruits and veggies ensures you’re getting a healthy range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Switch It Up
Make healthy food swaps easier with these tips:
- Exchange sugary sodas and juices for water. Add lemon, lime or berries for a flavor burst.
- Tone up Taco Tuesday by replacing beef with black beans and brown rice. Use fresh avocado instead of sour cream.
- Ditch chips for unsalted nuts or raw vegetables dipped in hummus.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit instead of high-fat desserts.
- Swap refined white bread or rice for whole grain options.