Clean eating doesn’t have to result in boredom and internal suffering. There are many healthy and delicious options for every meal of the day that can satisfy your taste buds while giving your body what it needs to look its best.
- Plan your meals, have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack items ready at all times. Eating out frequently not only puts fitness goals in jeopardy, it can also quickly dent your wallet and savings. Step 1 is buying groceries – an assortment of fruits and vegetables, simple and complex carbs, healthy fats, and proteins. Make sure you always have low effort options like carrots, apples, rice cakes, peanut butter, and cottage cheese if you need to grab a bite on the run.
- Don’t forget your cheat meals! Some people can survive on Ezekiel bread, green veggies, non-fat cheese, egg whites and chicken breasts. I believe in moderation, and so with that, I eat dark chocolate and cheddar cheese on a daily basis – the way I see it, these are good for your mental health. Then I’ll save my full cheat days for beers and pizza at the bar or ice cream on a hot summer’s evening and I’ll run my ass off on the treadmill the next day, knowing I earned it.
- Timing your meals is easy and important. Eating 5-6 smaller sized meals each day helps maintain energy levels throughout the day and curbs your hunger while preventing cravings from arising. You’ll be less likely to crave a big double bacon burger if you are eating a small, planned meal every few hours. I find success eating more calories and the least healthy items in my diet in the morning (cheesie fried egg sandwiches to start the day). Then I make sure to eat lean protein and complex carbs an hour to an hour and a half before I go to bed at night. This ensures that my body has fuel to recover overnight – I want to avoid overeating and indulging at this time of day which could offset the discipline I maintained all day long.
Here are a few clean eating meals that are delicious and simple! More meals and recipes to come.
Breakfast – Spinach egg white omelet with rice cakes topped with peanut butter
Lunch – BBQ chicken thighs, sweet potato (add cinnamon and walnuts for extra flavor) and grilled asparagus
Dinner – Grilled salmon and Greek salad with quinoa (bell pepper, tomato, olives, cucumber, feta cheese, Greek dressing)
Get committed to working out, whether it’s a 20-minute run or crushing some abs, pushups and skip rope in front of the TV, everything helps. The worst excuse is saying that you don’t have enough time. The busier you are, the more you’ll need a break from the rest of your day. My idea of the perfect break is physical exertion. This will get the blood flowing and clear your head. The release of endorphins that occurs due to physical exertion will leave you with more energy and concentration after your workout. Ultimately the workout will make you more efficient when you have to get back to your busy schedule and it should help you to (a) fall asleep at night and (b) get a good sleep at night. Sacrificing 30 minutes of a subpar overnight sleep in favor of a workout has always helped me – unless I’m sick (very sick, not just a case of the snuffles).
Plan your meals. It’s so much easier to eat healthy when you have an organized pantry and fridge. It starts with grocery shopping – buying a balance of easy prep foods and typical preparation-required meal items. Leftovers are my best friend, especially on those busy days where I don’t have time to prepare a meal from scratch. This also helps my wallet when I bring food to work for lunch instead of paying $12 for a good quality meal downtown. Plan for your cheat meals too! If your friends always go out on Wednesdays for chicken wings, don’t be afraid to join them. It helps to be aware of this however, otherwise you might treat yourself to an ice cream sundae on Tuesday and then find yourself tempted to have wings on Wednesday too with your friends.
Always have healthy snacks ready to go. When you’re hungry in the middle of the day or before bed, choosing cookies, chips, or donuts isn’t the best way to go. These are all quick and they serve to satisfy those salty and sweet cravings, but having these snacks multiple times every day will surely make it harder for you to reach your fitness goals. Healthier options include peanut butter and rice cakes, pre-chopped veggies with humus, an apple, healthy varieties of granola bars (homemade for example!), almonds, cottage cheese, and more.
Don’t be too strict about the definition of “clean” in clean eating. We’re all human and not many people can survive six flawless clean-eating/diet-like days per week with only one cheat day to splurge. I love cheese and chocolate and I rarely go a full day without having one of these treats. My trick? I don’t go overboard. I grab a square or two of Lindt dark chocolate and I’m happy. I melt some white cheddar on my eggs in the morning but I don’t make a giant pot of mac and cheese (unless it’s cheat day, and then I am more likely to grab some cheesy nachos). The other key is working my butt off in the gym, fueling my workout with those calories so that I can go harder and longer on the treadmill or at the squat rack.