We all do it. We constantly make up excuses as to why we haven’t reached our health and fitness goals. We are a nation that LOVES to complain about our woes. We put on a little weight and run to the first person that will console our insecurities and say, “I’ve put on some weight, I need to lose it!” When in reality all we are doing is fishing for a compliment from our loved ones in the hopes that they will say, “oh no, you look great, you don’t need to lose weight.” Now that you have received that self-sought out validation, you can now go back to the same routine, eating the same old crap that can make you look, but more importantly, FEEL terrible!
We want to complain about things, and some of us actually want to make changes, but we are afraid or don’t know how to actually do something about it! Well, I’m here to help you begin a journey away from the Standard American Diet and towards healthier cleaner eating. Let’s take a moment to discuss the Standard American Diet, or what I like to call the SAD diet, because, well, that’s exactly what it is; filled with processed foods and prepackaged meals with ingredient lists that sounds more like a science experiment than something we should be consuming. A SAD diet filled with added sugars, refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated vegetable oils, Trans fats, and GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). We are a SAD nation in that we say it’s too hard to eat clean, it’s too expensive to eat clean, we can’t cook, we don’t have time, the list goes on and on; and as a nation our excuses keep growing in direct proportion to our waistlines! The truth is JUST BECAUSE YOU AREN’T SICK DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE HEALTHY!!!
Its 2015 people, we have NO EXCUSE! Gone are the days when you have to go to the library and search the endless card catalog by way of the Dewey Decimal System for a healthy nutrition book! We have access to a myriad of information on “how to” just about anything right at our finger tips; access to millions of healthy recipes at the swipe of a button and articles written by nutrition and fitness experts to help educate, guide and keep you motivated along the way. Before we use having access to too much information as an excuse, because yes, things can get a bit overwhelming, I’m here to help simplify clean eating for you.
Now that I’ve called us out on all of our excuses on how to avoid EATING CLEAN, I may have lost of few who would like to stay in that SAD world a bit longer, but those of you who do not, welcome, you are ready to RENOVATE YOUR LIFE. Eating clean can be quite simple if you follow these steps for a healthier, better YOU!!!!
No matter what your nutritional preference is or whatever diet you are following right now you MUST eliminate these four things, no matter what!
- ELIMINATE ADDED SUGAR: Added Sugar is exactly what it sounds like, sugar added to a product to make it sweeter. This can include but not limited to soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and desserts by adding sugars like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, and maltose, to name a few. And our current SAD diet is filled to brim with this stuff and we as a nation are addicted to it. With all this sugar in the world, I can’t afford to sugar coat anything any longer. Added sugar is the ABSOLUTE WORST. I’m sick and tired of hearing diets that include “cheat days” or “reward days” if you have been good. Here’s the deal. If you are having a problem with your weight and health due to your overeating of sweets then why in the world would you think it would be OK for you to have the one thing that was causing your downfall in the first place? That slice of cake turns in to two slices and before you know it you have eaten the entire thing. Then the shame sets in followed by the excuse; healthy eating is too hard. Here’s a thought, do not have the vice that caused your problem in the first place! A “treat” or “cheat” meal, is like giving an alcoholic a shot after being sober for a week; it simply doesn’t make sense! Addiction is addiction. The thing with added sugar is that it when people eat too much sugar; it overloads the liver, which is then forced to turn the sugar into fat. It also causes a chemical response in your brain called the neuropeptide response telling you that you NEED MORE sugar. This is the same response cocaine addicts get when they need another bump of cocaine…..seriously!
- ELIMINATE REFINED CARBOHYDRATES: Our SAD diets are full of grains, such as refined flours, instant oatmeal, and processed cereals that have had all the beneficial ingredients/nutrients removed. Refined carbs get broken down into sugars when metabolized creating the same liver and neuropeptide response discussed above. We are supposed to eat for nutrition, that’s right, our food is supposed to provide us nutrients, but how can we get those nutrients if they have been stripped of them beforehand? Refined carbohydrates provide us with energy, but no essential nutrients; we call these empty calories. Our bodies are like a vehicle. Owning a vehicle requires you to take care of your car by using the proper oil and fuel, rotating its tires, checking your fluids, and taking it in for periodic checkups. Much like a car, your bodies will initially continue to run if you neglect it, or fuel it with products disguised as food, but it’s only a matter of time before it breaks down and requires the proper maintenance, which will cost you much more in the long run.
- ELIMINATE INDUSTRIAL VEGETABLE OILS: This list includes but is not limited to canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil. Much like our refined carbohydrates, these oils are often genetically modified and have been stripped of any nutritional value and are deemed empty calories. Our nation markets these as heart healthy oils that should be incorporated in our daily diets due to having low saturated fat and high polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids. Sounds great, right? Wrong! What they neglect to tell you is having too much polyunsaturated fat is detrimental to our health and a major contributor to obesity. Industrial vegetable oils oxidize in heat very easily. So cooking with these oils creates large amounts of oxidized fatty acids that cause inflammation and are known carcinogens (cancer causing agents).
- ELIMINATE TRANS FAT: Trans fats are made by a chemical process that adds hydrogen to the oils to make them solid at room temperature increasing their shelf life. Trans fat (hydrogenated oils) are unnatural, toxic, harbor no nutritional value, and much like industrial vegetable oils, are linked to inflammation and heart disease.
So now that you know what to cut out of your diet, what should you be eating? I’m not saying you should follow a restricted diet that is impossible to attain; I’m talking to you fad diets. I’m not here to tell you to eat Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, or be on the cookie diet (yes, that was a real thing at it made millions). Clean eating shouldn’t be viewed as a restricted diet; it should be viewed as a lifestyle change. I’m here to provide you with the tools necessary to make that healthy lifestyle shift that you can easily sustain throughout your lifetime.
- EAT SIMPLE AND COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES: No, carbs are NOT evil if you stick with clean carbs that will fuel your body!!! Eat carbs in the morning and before and after your workouts to provide you with the most energy and nutrient replenishment. These clean carbs include complex carbs (slow digesting) to provide you energy and simple carbs (fast digesting) to provide you with quick energy. Complex carbs include but not limited to: baked potatoes, barley, beans, brown rice (steamed), oatmeal (plain), pumpkin, sweet potatoes / yams, squash, quinoa, and wild Rice (steamed). Simple carbs include but not limited to: apples, bananas, any berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries), grapefruit, melons, oranges, fat?free yogurt, greek yogurt unsweetened (add fruit to it, don’t but fruit added).
- EAT PROTEIN: We all need protein to provide our bodies with proper energy, but we don’t all need to eat like bodybuilders. Try to include some form of lean protein with every meal to help limit the insulin spike (sugar spike) of food and burn more calories through to the digestion of the protein itself. Some great choices are: beans, buffalo, chicken breast (whole or ground), low fat or skim dairy (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese), eggs (whole, egg whites), lean ground beef, lean ham, Nondairy milk (almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk), Nuts and nut butters (almond, cashew, peanut), protein powder (casein, whey), seafood (crab, haddock, lobster, salmon, shrimp, swordfish, tuna), steak (top round or top sirloin), and turkey breast (whole or ground). Any nut butters and milks choose the Organic, unsweetened and lower sodium options.
- EAT FATS: Yes, we NEED to eat Fat to LOSE FAT. Wait, what?!!! Crazy, I know! But not all fats are created equal! Stick with these healthy nutrient packed fats (includes but not limited to): almond oil, avocados, avocado oil (also great for high heat cooking), coconut oil (great for high heat cooking), fish oil, olive oil, nut and nut butters.
- EAT VEGETABLES: Load up on lots and lots of veggies! The amazing thing about most vegetables is that they are a guilt free food! Have you ever seen someone OVER indulge on spinach? Aim for 3 cups of vegetables a day (and 1.5-2 cups of fruit)! Focus on eating more vegetables than fruit; you will get abundance and vitamins and nutrients and less sugar. I myself, hated vegetables years ago and now I prefer, no my body craves, a salad most of the time, and I’m not talking the one smothered in processed cheese and ranch dressing. An easy way to get your vegetables in is to throw them in a blender with some cucumber, lemon, or lime, and maybe a fruit like grapefruit or berries for a delicious smoothie! Vegetables include: asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, leafy greens (collard greens, kale, romaine, spinach, etc), green beans, green peppers, mushrooms, onion, peas, tomato, and zucchini. This is not an exhaustive list, for the most part any vegetable will be acceptable, the darker and leafier the better.
By cutting added sugar, refined carbs, vegetables oils, and trans fat out of your diet and focusing on incorporating lots of lean meats, vegetables, fiber, and fruits you will be on your way to a great Lifestyle Renovation! If you want a specific eating plan check out my nutrition plans on my site thelifestylerenovation.com and use code ‘Calidiet’ for 10% off! I believe in you, now it’s time for you to believe in yourself!
Yours in health,
Joey Thurman is a health, fitness, and nutrition expert and the creator of The Lifestyle Renovation, a website dedicated to helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. He has appeared on CBS, FOX, ABC, and WCIU sharing his insights as a celebrity fitness trainer and published author. Joey’s work has been featured in publications such as BodyBuilding.com, Racked, TimeOut Chicago, RedEye, and American Global Traveler. Joey is a fashion model represented by Chosen Model Management where he works with brands including Neiman Marcus, Abercrombie, Jockey, and Carson Pirie Scott. He has also appeared on the covers of Healthy for Menand TimeOut Chicago. Joey is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) with the American Council on Exercise, a Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS) and a FITchef. For more information, please visit www.thelifestylerenovation.com and follow Joey on Instagram and Twitter at @JoeyThurmanFit.