Are you overwhelmed with a feeling of grogginess when you wake up, even though you’ve gotten proper rest? Do you still feel like you need an extra boost midday when everyone else is going strong? The answer to fixing these problems doesn’t lie in a sugary, ultra-caffeinated drink, but really it’s what you are (or aren’t) eating that may be causing these issues.
Just because you avoid the temptations of the neon-lit fast-food signs doesn’t mean your eating habits are clean. In fact, the healthy lifestyle you think you're leading could be hurting your metabolism and digestion. Take a look at these few tips to eat clean and get back on track toward a healthy lifestyle.
If you feel tired even after getting a good night’s rest, you’re probably dehydrated. Your body uses water for blood circulation when you’re sleeping, and insufficient water levels can lead to grogginess and tiredness when you wake up. Staying hydrated during the day can help alleviate this problem, but also try drinking a glass of water before you go to bed and when you wake up. Continually hydrating yourself also can do wonders for your skin, weight and immune system.
2. Cut the Cans
Avoid processed foods as much as possible, even canned vegetables. When vegetables are canned, many of their natural nutrients are lost through preservation processes and sodium and sugar are often added for flavor. Next time, try buying fresh green beans and steaming them at home, or buying corn-on-the-cob and cooking it at home. While it may take a little more time to prep, your body will thank you.
3. Buy Local
The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture estimated that produce such as apples and tomatoes can travel over 1,000 miles just to reach your supermarket. Not only does the long transportation emit polluting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the time it takes to get into your hands lowers the freshness of the produce. Buying locally ensures you will have the freshest and healthiest food available. Finding a local butcher also can help ensure that your meat does not come from industrial feedlots.
Buying local doesn’t have to be more difficult than going to the convenient supermarket. Establish a routine to go to a local farmer’s market on a weekend morning and replace that trip with your usual large grocery store trip. Take a look at the USDA Local Food Directory to find a farmer’s market near you.
4. Meatless Mondays
While meat may be your favorite part of a meal, the constant intake could be damaging your body. Scientific American reports that the meat industry uses “167 million pounds of pesticides” per year to grow crops for meat production, which can bioaccumulate in the food you eat. Meat production also is one of the leading causes of greenhouse-gas pollution.
Taking a day to eat only vegetables and other produce can also greatly reduce your chances of heart disease and obesity. If you’re worried about not meeting your required protein intake, try adding foods like quinoa, lentils, nuts and tofu to your diet.
5. More is the New Less
Eating clean doesn’t mean eating less; it means eating more of the foods that are good for you. Load your plate with more vegetables and healthy sources of protein rather than unhealthy, preservative-filled food and you’ll begin to notice weight loss and increased energy. Eating clean is more about the type of food you put in your body rather than the size of portions.
6. Eat In
Eating in allows you to take control of your food down to the very ingredients that make up your meals. A rule of thumb that Myfitnesspal recommends is to use 10 or fewer ingredients in your cooking, and to avoid when possible these ingredients:
- Added fats (vegetable oil, canola oil, peanut oil)
- Added sugar (granulated sugar, honey)
- Added sodium (salt, condiments)
Follow these steps and you’ll notice a difference in your energy and body health, while also helping the environment. Making conscious choices about what you eat also can reduce your risk of heart disease and obesity.
Sometimes eating clean and exercising doesn’t always help. If you need additional tools to achieve your weight loss goal of 30 pounds or more, consider a medically managed weight loss program. Our guide, A New Way to a New You: Lose Weight the Right Way, has valuable tips to get you started.