Eating clean doesn’t have to mean filling your fridge with kale and your pantry with quinoa. In fact, you might not have to change your current diet much at all to start eating cleaner and feeling better. By making some well-chosen food replacements, you can clean up your diet easily – no kale required.
Mix up your own salad dressing
Store-bought salad dressings often contain sky-high levels of fat and calories, and even the light versions often contain a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. Whip up a batch of your own salad dressing with simple ingredients instead. It just takes some oil, vinegar, and herbs to dress up your salad exactly the way you like.
Choose whole grains
Trading white rice, white bread, and other refined grains for whole grains is one of the easiest ways you can boost your fiber intake. Whole-grain foods have more texture and flavor than their highly-processed counterparts, and they’ll make you feel fuller, too. That’s not the only benefit of whole-grain foods: they also take longer to digest than refined carbs do, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar.
Switch up your sandwich spread
Mayonnaise might be a tasty way to spruce up your sandwich, but it doesn’t have much nutrition per calorie. Instead, go for a sandwich spread that’s both flavorful and healthy. Mashed avocado has a creamy consistency that’s similar to that of mayonnaise, and it’s full of heart-healthy fats, potassium, and vitamin K. Hummus is also a delicious, protein-filled addition to a sandwich. Other ideas? Spicy sriracha, tangy plain yogurt, and ricotta cheese all make delicious sandwich spreads.
Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice
Fruit might be high in simple sugars, but it’s also full of fiber and vitamins, making it a good-for-you treat. Unfortunately, when you drink fruit juice, you’re getting all the sugar of the fruit and none of the good stuff. In fact, orange juice has about the same amount of sugar as soda does. Boost your fiber intake by swapping your morning glass of juice for a piece of fruit instead.
Nibble on air-popped popcorn
Next time you want a treat, go for some hot, freshly-popped popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain that’s low in calories, high in fiber, and full of cancer-fighting antioxidants. It makes a fun alternative to chips or pretzels, and it’s totally customizable – try sprinkling it with a small amount of a healthy oil, like olive oil, and your favorite herbs or spices.
Swap soda for sparkling water
If you’re trying to eat clean, it’s important to cut out added sugar wherever you can, and soda is one of the biggest culprits in sneaking sugar into your diet. A single can of soda packs 39 grams of sugar – that’s more than 9 teaspoons. Try switching to sparkling water for your bubbly fix instead. You can even infuse your own seltzer with fresh fruit if you’re feeling creative.
Make your own oatmeal
Packets of instant oatmeal are convenient when you’re in a hurry, but they’re also loaded with sugar. Switch to plain oats instead – it doesn’t take much longer to cook up a pot of oatmeal on the stove than it does to make the instant variety, and you can control what goes in it. Add chopped fruit, a little honey, and peanut butter if you have a sweet tooth. If you’re adventurous, try skipping the sugar entirely and making savory oats with olive oil, salt, and herbs.
Cleaning up your diet doesn’t have to be complicated. By tweaking the foods you already eat, you can cut down on sugar while boosting the fiber and nutrients in your diet. Best of all, by simplifying your diet and making your own versions of processed store-bought foods, you can feel good about knowing exactly what you’re putting in your body.