Tackling a lifestyle change in order to live healthier can seem like a daunting task. How often do you watch someone commit 100% to healthy, clean changes only to find themselves in a pile of chips and wine when they have a tough day? By changing smaller habits a little at a time, you’ll find yourself living a sustainable life that suits your needs and goals without worrying about burn out! Here are a few ideas to get you started!
1. Fibre First!
This sounds obvious and boring, but it’s a great way to raid your pantry. I don’t just mean switching your bread out for whole wheat (although that is a great start!); replace white rice with brown, stock up on beans and legumes, sub in whole wheat or a clean pasta alternative to white, and go for sweet potatoes before reaching for less healthy foods like crackers. On top of keeping your cholesterol, bowels, and blood sugar in check, high-fibre foods are more nutrient-dense and filling than their low-fibre counterparts!
2. Be Critical of Trends – Too Much of a Good Thing!
So many foods are hyped up on social media as the new superfood and healthy alternative to your favourite treats. While these foods are usually good for you, the trendy headlines lead many of us to believe we need more of something than we do. For example, while whole grain breads are often stuffed full of nutrients, some contain way more seeds than we need (we don’t have to forage in the forest any more!), which majorly boosts the calorie count. Look for whole grain or whole wheat breads with only a few ingredients and skip adding that giant handful of sunflower seeds to your salad if you are looking to eat cleaner. Nuts and avocados are filled with healthy fats and making their way into trendy kitchens across the country, but their status as “clean, healthy” foods can mislead many to eat larger portions than serve their goals. Crackers are delicious, but many are salty with no nutritional value. Honey and agave may be natural, but sugar is sugar! Of course these foods are better for you than chips and chocolate, but think of them more as accessories to a meal than the star of the show.
3. Drink More Water!
While many myths around how much water we NEED exist, there are a lot of benefits to drinking water regularly, before meals, and replacing other drinks. If you aren’t a fan of water on it’s own, try adding fruit, essential oils, a tiny amount of 100% fruit juice, or brewing it as tea to up your intake.
4. Supplement Fibre-filled Carbs with Veggies!
We’ve all seen the zoodle trend that has been circulating for a while now (what CAN’T we spiralize?!), but not everyone is ready for that big of a leap from the comforts of pasta! On top of that, carbs are not evil – we do need a certain amount of them daily to be at our best! Consider taking 2oz of whole wheat spaghetti and mixing it with zucchini noodles. The volume doubles, we are getting a ratio of carbs to vegetables (especially if you top the noodles with a marinara and some lean meatballs – yum!), our body is filled up for longer, and we can trick our brains out of over-eating a comfort food!
Other examples of this include adding romaine or cabbage to your summer rolls instead of vermicelli, mixing mashed cauliflower or parsnip to your potatoes, and combining brown rice and cauli-rice for your stir fries or as a side dish.
5. Make a Clean Alternative!
This can be done for almost any food, but we’re going to look at the simplest options here. Pick brands like Kodiak Cakes, that are lower in sugar and full of protein, when you crave pancakes or waffles. Instead of topping them with syrup or chocolate, mash in half of a banana, or simmer some berries with water until they make a sugar-free (but still sweet!) coulis. When making either of these, make a double batch. You can freeze waffles to pop in the toaster (just as easy as Eggos!) and coulis will last in the fridge with lemon juice for several days (and freezes well too!). Using corn tortillas over flour tortillas, keeping frozen stir fry veggies and make a simple sauce instead of ordering in saucy delivery, and making your own creamer out of almond milk and extracts (which lasts in the fridge as well) allow you similar convenience while eating clean!
You don’t have to completely overhaul your life all at once to live healthier. Any of these simple, small changes will make a huge difference when combined over time. This gives you a chance to work out the kinks without going through major sugar and carb withdrawal for no reason! You’ll find that the most successful at living clean usually started small – a new vegetable added in here, a trigger food kept out of there house there. Find the changes and lifestyle that works for your specific needs, keep everything in moderation instead of extremes, and listen to how each alteration affects your body!