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Ten Steps To Clean Eating - by Lesley Maxwell

You hear about 'clean eating' or 'clean food' often when you're about to take on a healthy lifestyle and change your diet, but what exactly does it mean?

Clean food is food that contains just one ingredient: itself. And you can put these clean single ingredients together to make a delicious meal. Such as chicken, sweet potato, broccoli, Himalayan rock salt, and herbs and spices to taste.

In other words, clean foods are those that don't come in a package with a host of ingredients you can't pronounce, plus a list of numbers that represent artificial ingredients, preservatives and colours.

To help make it seem less complicated, below are the ten easy steps to get your 'clean eating' underway.

The ten steps to clean eating

1. Make this your 'day one' not just 'one day'. Clean out your pantry. Do this after eating a meal as you'll feel satiated and then be more ruthless in throwing sweet foods or biscuits out. I often hear people say they need to eat everything first rather than throw anything out before they begin their new super clean eating lifestyle.

2. Cut back on, or better still, eliminate soft drinks and sugar in your food and beverages. Begin by weaning yourself off sugar over a few weeks, as sugar is quite addictive. Start by halving your sugar consumption in your tea or coffee (if that's what you drink) or in every second beverage. I use stevia powder as it's a natural herb sweetener (although it tastes different to sugar) and I add molasses to my oats in the morning, as this tastes sweet to me, plus it contains minerals. Occasionally I use Manuka honey in my oats and coffee. Being mindful of eliminating sugar and making small changes will help you achieve healthy lifestyle and be more aware what you're putting into your amazing body.

3. Try to replace wheat with brown rice, buckwheat or another carb of your choice. Most wheat is highly processed, leaving the roughage needed to slow the digestion down too fine - and a spike in blood sugars is created.

4. Have a 'cheat meal' once a week. Eliminate junk food on a regular basis. Instead, have it once a week for your 'cheat meal'. Do include this one special meal a week if you like, as it will feel like your journey is a series of sprints rather than a marathon. For your regular meals, it's surprising how easy it is to make a home made hamburger, or your own version of fried chicken. Personally I think having this food more than this restarts the sugar (or take away addiction).

5. Become familiar with your macros, as this is a very important step to your new healthy lifestyle. Choose a protein food, plus some fats at every meal and only one carb, whether you are eating out or at home. For instance, in a bought sandwich, ask for more of the filling, such as egg or chicken, plus more greens and then only eat one slice of bread, or only one half (top or bottom) of the roll. Halve the pasta and double the meat sauce. Halve the carbs and double the protein.

6. Watch your portion sizes. Serving your lunch or dinner on a smaller plate is one way of managing your portion sizes. And it's surprising how your stomach will adjust and become satiated with smaller portions.

7. After you've finished your meals it takes your brain about twenty minutes to realise that you're full. So after your meal, instead of having another serve, distract yourself by making a phone call, brushing your teeth, or having some sugarless chewing gum, as this will help take your mind off food.

8. Start doing food prep during the evening, such as boiling some eggs and preparing a salad with a slice of buckwheat toast or bread, and take your meals and lunch to work the next day. Or put some leftover roast and veggies in containers to freeze for emergencies.

9. Invest in your health by choosing to eat the best quality food you can afford, such as organic eggs and meat where possible. You're worth it!

10. No weighing and measuring — too stressful. I have found that weighing and measuring my food (or my own weight) is way too stressful and seems to have an unhealthy effect on my attitude to food. Trust yourself that your amazing body won't let you down if you eat super clean food. And become aware of what you're eating as far as macros (protein, fats and carbs) go.

Nutrient timing

My other secret is 'nutrient timing' — knowing when you need protein, carbs and fats, and when you don't.

How you combine foods makes all the difference. Having 'One Carb @ A Time' will keep you satisfied while giving you all the energy you need. Enjoy your carbs while losing weight in a healthy, manageable way.

On my weight training days, I'll add some carbs such as a serve of potatoes to my main meals including lunch and dinner. On the days I'm not training, I'll have fewer of the carbs. Carbs are just energy, so there is no point eating them unless I'm going to burn them off.

I also avoid carbohydrates before bed and always go to bed on my beloved shake with a raw egg yolk and Greek yoghurt…then I sleep like a baby.

For some meals, as well as a protein and fat choice, I have only leafy greens (such as silverbeet or rocket leaves), as these are a fibrous carb that won't spike my blood sugar levels. So no grains or other carbs with this meal.

Another method I have is 'carb cycling' where I'll have a low carbohydrate day once a week. I'll only have protein, fats and greens on this day, apart from my beloved oats in the morning. But I still include a piece of fruit and lots of green vegetables.

Try this for yourself and see the results. It's quite easy to maintain for one day a week.

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