Eating Cleaner Every Day: The 5 Things You Need To Know

Photo: mbg Creative

When you’re busy with work, family, and life, making health a priority can sometimes seem impossible—too expensive, too time-consuming, too complicated. But in reality, every tiny step you take toward wellness makes a difference. That’s why mindbodygreen and Lorissa’s Kitchen are celebrating the #SmallWins that make healthy living attainable to anyone, anywhere. Here, health coach and chef Dawna Stone shares her tips for making healthy choices throughout your day.

So many of us want to eat healthier and make better nutrition choices—for ourselves and for our families. We worry about processed foods and scour nutrition labels for the “right” ingredients, but let’s face it: Making decisions about what to eat (and how to eat it) can be overwhelming, confusing, and intimidating—especially when you have limited time to cook and money to buy ingredients.

The good news is you have so many opportunities to make changes for the better. Every time you put food in your mouth, you make a choice. And when you choose to eat cleaner every day, you’ll notice big differences: more energy, better sleep, less stress and anxiety, better digestion, and built-in weight management, to name a few.

The small change that worked for me: smarter snacking

According to a Nielsen study, 76 percent of us snack to satisfy hunger or cravings between meals, while 61 percent of us also claim to snack for the energy boost. Unfortunately, the snacks we choose aren’t always healthy, nor do they always leave us with long-lasting energy.

In the past when the urge to snack hit, I would run to the company vending machine for a not-so-healthy treat. Today, I make it a priority to keep healthy options on hand.

That’s the #SmallWin I’m most proud of: learning what’s truly good for my body and making sure I’m in control of my choices. Snacks you’ll find in my desk or office refrigerator include homemade trail mix, plain yogurt, fresh fruit, and premium protein snacks from Lorissa’s Kitchen (my favorites are Ginger Teriyaki and Sweet Chili).

Make your own #SmallWin: Ask yourself these 5 questions about your next snack:

1. Is it nutrient-rich and good for me?

Snacking can be part of a healthy diet, but choosing the right snack isn’t always so easy. Select snacks that are full of nutrients and will give your body what it needs to feel and look great. The right snack can also help you make better choices at mealtime.

Next time you’re about to grab a midafternoon or evening bite, ask yourself if it has the nutrients your body needs and deserves.

2. Does it contain excess sugar?

The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day—far more than the 6 daily teaspoons recommended for women. Steer clear of highly processed snack foods that are loaded with excess sugar and instead, opt for a naturally sweet treat like a piece of fruit or some plain yogurt with a touch of honey.

3. Will it give me the energy I need to get through the day?

A good-for-you snack can lift you out of that midafternoon slump and keep you satisfied for hours. A highly processed and sugar-laden snack, on the other hand, might make you feel better in the short term but will have you crashing and craving more not long after.

Remember, eating clean foods without excess sugar, salt, or fat can not only increase your energy, but it can also promote better sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, improve your digestion, and help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

4. Does it contain adequate protein?

Choosing a snack that is protein-rich can keep you satisfied and feeling full longer. Protein can also help keep your blood sugar in check allowing you to avoid the highs and lows that often come with high carb and high sugar snacks. Even better, protein can help rev your metabolism as it takes more effort to metabolize and use protein than fat or carbs so you burn more calories just processing it.

Look for lean protein that is free from antibiotics and hormones.

5. Does it contain artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners?

Many snack foods are loaded with artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners and have very little nutritional value. Saying NO to these foods is the first step to living a healthier lifestyle.

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