We’ve been talking about ways to reboot your New Year recently, and one area that people ALWAYS focus on this time of year is their diet and ways to eat clean in the New Year.
Whether you want to lose weight, feel healthier, or investigate gut or allergy issues you’re having, what you eat is a great place to start. It’s literally the fuel that feeds your body, so you want to make sure you eat clean, high-quality foods that are free from harmful toxins (which are unfortunately all around us, all the time).
Plus, your diet is an area where you can make small changes that will have a big impact on your overall health.
Here are four simple ways to eat clean in the New Year!
1) Ban Faux Food
We consume tons of fake foods in this country, guys. Number 1 on this list is to pay more attention to what chemicals you’re putting in your body in 2020.
Think about all the chemical-laden, processed foods available with unnatural food dyes, seasonings with unknown ingredients, MSG and preservatives. Our bodies don’t know how to process this junk and instead assume it’s a foreign invaders to attack.
When in trouble, your immune system floods your body with defense cells and hormones. So, when dietary and environmental toxins build up in your body, your immune system will run on overdrive trying to rid your body of these foreign invaders. This constant battle in your body leads to chronic inflammation, which can last for months or years. And that’s what can lead to that truckload of symptoms and diseases.
So before you eat another bag of Doritos, just imagine each chip as a sneaky Trojan Horse about to start a war in your body, and ditch the fake food!
2) Farm Fresh
Even if you’re eating real food not from a box or carton, you risk some exposure to chemicals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that “nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues.” And you can transfer traces of pesticide from your hands to your mouth, nose, and eyes without even knowing it while you’re shopping or chopping up dinner. Yikes!
To keep these toxic chemicals out of your house and off your plate, buy organic whenever possible.
This way you know that the farming and packaging process is strictly regulated and food is grown “without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, genetic engineering, radiation or sewage sludge. (Seriously, OMG!)
Check out this list from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) of the Clean Fifteen. These common ingredients are the least likely to contain pesticides on and in them, and include sweet peas, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, and my true love forever, avocados.
I also recommend adding in some anti-inflammatory foods into your regular diet. Look for organic, whole foods high in antioxidants and/or a good balance of Omega-3s.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Beets – Beets are an awesome source of vitamins and minerals, and they can also lower your blood pressure. Here’s my Oven-Baked Beet Chip recipe.
Bok Choy – Low in calories but high in protein, dietary fiber and vitamins.
Chia Seeds – The tiny superhero superfood! Here’s my Blueberry Banana Chia Seed Pudding recipe.
Flax Seeds – Rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Turmeric – This spice boosts immune function, reduces inflammation, and aids in digestion and liver function. Here’s my Turmeric + Ginger Latte recipe.
3) Let’s Meat In The Middle
I love plant-based meals, but for me, my body functions better with occasional lean meats, which I buy straight from my favorite organic Farmers Market vendors. Though with that said, I eat vegan at least three times a week or more. It’s taken some practice, but ultimately our earth cannot sustain the amount of meat and seafood we consume.
So I do encourage you to try meatless Monday’s or something of that sort if you’re a regular meat eater!
And if you’re a big meat eater, and going vegetarian or vegan once or more per week scares the bejeezus out of you, perhaps just skip the steak and try a lighter seafood meal instead? Fish and shellfish are low in fat, high in protein and good sources of iodine, vitamin D and selenium. And the FDA even recently increased the amount of seafood pregnant and nursing women can consume because of the positive benefits our oceanic alternatives have on babies’ brains and nervous systems.
But the reality of our world is that you also need to be mindful of the mercury contamination that creeps into our oceans and waterways from years of industrial activity, particularly coal-fired power plants.
So, when you’re picking out fish or shellfish, you want to select seafood that is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids (good for your heart and eyes), sustainably produced, and, obviously, contains the lowest amount of mercury.
According to the EWG, your best bets are:
Herring, Pollock and Oysters (cheers!) are also good choices, though not as sustainable.
4) Wash It Down
You know I am all about you drinking lots and lots of water, but our tap water in the U.S. is polluted by a number of sources, like agricultural pesticides, industrial pollution, runoff and sprawl, and our own treatment process.
The presence of arsenic, barium, manganese, radium, and total trihalomethanes (TTHMs – water disinfection byproducts) has been detected in at least 47 states, as well as added chemicals such as fluoride, which have not been proven to benefit us as much as originally claimed.
There is also no national drinking water standard for most of these elements.
And the possible side effects of high concentrations of these big baddies are terrible, such as organ damage, harm to the brain and nervous system, high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of cancer, and birth defects.
The good news is that you can take control of the water you put into your body, onto your body, on your dishes, and on your pets by using a water filter! You don’t need a fancy-schmancy system either, it can be as easy as a few righty-tighty twists of a faucet version.
If you need a little shopping assistance, the EWG has a great Water Filter Buying Guide that helps you find the right filter for your needs, from costs to specific contaminants. To see what the composition of tap water in your area looks like, and learn what you want to filter out, enter your zip code in EWG’s Tap Water Database.
If you want to take the eating clean process to the next level, you can give a cleanse a try.
A cleanse doesn’t mean deprivation. In fact, it’s a great way to clean out your gut and calm your body. And it can be as simple as just cutting out few foods for 2-4 weeks, such as processed foods, gluten, soy, GMO corn (go organic), cow dairy, conventional meat (the stuff you buy at Vons or Ralphs; look instead for pasture-centered), alcohol, caffeine and the biggie—sugar.
My challenge for you this week is to be more mindful of what you’re putting into your body. Start by keeping a food journal, and keep it honest! You can download one on my homepage for free by clicking here.
Let me know how your week goes by posting a comment in the Badass Beauty Club on Facebook. You will also be able to connect with other badass women, share successes, swap advice and participate in live discussions.