Eating clean but seeing no progress? Wonder why your diet doesn't work? Clean eating is supposed to be easy and straightforward. Yet, most people make common mistakes, such as eating too much fruit or overindulging in healthy foods. Let's get one thing straight: clean eating isn't a diet or a quick fix to weight loss. It's a lifestyle choice that takes commitment and determination. If you see it as a diet, your efforts are doomed to fail.
This eating pattern gives people the freedom to feed their bodies with whole, nutritious foods. Once you embrace it, you'll enjoy better health and get leaner. When done right, clean eating boosts immune function, prevents diseases, and leads to fat loss. If it's not working for you, then you’re probably doing something wrong. Fortunately, it's never too late to learn from your mistakes.
We've compiled this report to help you figure out what you're doing wrong about clean eating. You'll learn about the most common healthy eating mistakes and how to fix them. We have also included less obvious blunders that sabotage your efforts. By the time you finish reading this guide, you'll know what clean eating looks like and how to make it work.
Let's see the most common clean eating mistakes that keep you from reaching your goals:
The words "diet" and "clean eating" are often used interchangeably. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. If you think of clean eating as dieting, you're less likely to stick to it. Dieting involves deprivation. After all, most diets require cutting out entire food groups or skipping meals. Clean eating, on the other hand, has none of these crazy "rules." The only thing you need to do is to choose whole, nutritious foods and cook them the right way.
Most people fail to eat clean because they only commit on a short term. Since they see it as a diet, they miss the big picture. They stick to clean eating for a month or so, hoping to lose weight so they can return to their old habits. Like it or not, you can not reap the benefits by eating clean for a day or two and then indulge in fries or pizza. If you want to have an occasional cheat meal, go for it. But keep it to a minimum. Commit to eating clean at least 80 percent of the time.
Clean eating isn't an excuse to overindulge in peanut butter, almonds, coconuts, and other healthy foods. Except for water, all beverages and foods have calories. How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Even though calorie counting isn't necessary, you should at least have an idea of how many calories you’re taking in. Eating too much of anything can lead to weight gain, indigestion, and poor health.
For example, almonds boast more than 600 calories per 100 grams. A tablespoon of peanut butter has 130 calories. There are over 552 calories in one cup of coconut milk. One tablespoon of olive oil provides about 120 calories. These foods are super healthy and nutritious, but this doesn’t mean you can overindulge. If you drink two cups of coconut milk and soak your veggies in olive oil, you’re taking in 1500 calories or so.
Use an online calculator to determine your daily calorie requirements. If you're not sure about it, see a nutritionist. Watch your portions and eat mindfully. To slim down, swap calorie-laden foods for high-water foods, such as kale, cabbage, spinach, melon, and berries. Regardless of where your calories come from, they can make or break your goals. Clean eating doesn’t guarantee weight loss. It's another way to nourish your body and enjoy your food.
Cutting back on sugar is the first step to clean eating. However, some things are worse than sugar. Saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, and other artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc on your health and mess up your metabolism. These food additives trick your brain into thinking that you're eating sugar. As a result, your pancreas releases insulin, which promotes fat storage and triggers blood glucose spikes. In the long run, this increases your risk of insulin resistance, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease.
Artificial sweeteners are just as bad as and even worse than sugar. For instance, sucralose has a toxic effect on the body. Studies have linked it to a higher risk of leukemia in mice. When cooked at high temperatures, it releases harmful compounds known as chloropropanols. Aspartame, the most popular sugar substitute, boasts carcinogenic effects. Sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, maltitol, and erythritol, may cause allergic reactions and digestive distress.
If you have a sweet tooth, replace sugar with stevia. This natural sweetener has no side effects and can be safely used on a long term. You can also opt for fruit purees, unsweetened applesauce, cinnamon, vanilla extract, or raw honey. Even though these foods have calories, they're healthier than sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Believe it or not, you must eat fat to burn fat. The key is to reduce your carb intake and load up on heart-healthy fats, such as those found in tuna, salmon, and avocado. Additionally, dietary fat insulates your joints and regulates the body's temperature. Monounsaturated fats prevent inflammation, boost cardiovascular health, and support brain function. They also reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol levels.
A diet rich in healthy fats will keep your energized and ward off cravings. It may also help you slim down and improve thyroid function. Dietary fat also helps preserve muscle, curbs hunger, and increases your metabolism. Just make sure you avoid trans fats, which are found in junk food, refined oils, processed meats, cookies, cake, fries, and ice cream. Since you're eating clean, these foods have no place in your diet anyway.
Without a doubt, fruits are healthy and nutritious. Just like everything else, they must be consumed in moderation. Fructose, the sugar in fruits, goes straight to your liver where it's converted into triglycerides and then stored as fat (unless you burn it for energy). A high fructose intake may lead to diabetes, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and weight gain.
Fructose also promotes the formation of visceral fat, which surrounds your internal organs. Fruit juices pose the highest risk since they lack fiber. Whole fruit contains fiber, which slows sugar absorption into the bloodstream. Dried fruit, dates, grapes, mangoes, bananas, and pomegranates contain the most sugar of all fruits.
Think of fruit as dessert. Enjoy it in moderation and don't go overboard. If you're craving fruits all the time, choose low-sugar options, such as rhubarb, avocado, raspberries, or papaya. Most berries are low in carbs and high in fiber, which helps increase satiety. Make your own fruit juices and avoid commercial brands. The juices and smoothies found in stores usually contain added sugar.
Organic foods aren’t necessarily healthier. Some contain large amounts of honey, sugar, coconut oil, dried fruit, and other high-calorie ingredients. Let's take granola bars, for example. Most brands are made with chocolate chips, dextrose, table sugar, tapioca syrup, sunflower oil, soy lecithin, nuts, and juice concentrate. The number of calories can easily exceed 500 per serving.
Natural foods are even worse since you don’t really know what’s inside. These products are not regulated by the FDA or other health organizations. Actually, there is no definition for the term "natural" and its derivates. It's not uncommon to see artificial flavors, preservatives, and synthetic dyes listed on the label.
Contrary to popular belief, protein bars can do more harm than good. In general, they're loaded with sugar and have too little protein. Some might as well be a Snickers - considering their calorie and carb content. If you're trying to lose weight, downing a 500-calorie protein bar won't help. You'd be far better getting those 500 calories from a serving of tuna, two cups of veggies, and a sweet potato.
Most protein bars are junk food in disguise. If you really love them, make your own homemade versions. Use healthy ingredients, such as hemp protein powder, roasted walnuts, natural peanut butter, oats, raw cocoa, and flax seeds. This way, you'll eat clean at a fraction of the cost.
A common mistake most people make is eating too much or too little. They focus on weight loss or muscle building rather than listening to their bodies. The whole purpose of clean eating is to make smart food choices. This dietary pattern is meant to improve your health. Your body knows best what's right for it. For example, if your diet lacks magnesium, you'll crave chocolate. This is your body's way of telling that it needs that nutrient to function properly.
Listen to your body and eat accordingly. Learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Always ask yourself why you have chosen what you are eating. Foster a healthy relationship with food and train your taste buds to enjoy natural flavors. Remember that clean eating is a lifestyle. It's your chance to be healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.