If you’re on a journey to create a healthy lifestyle, it can all seem overwhelming. And I think the further along you get in cleaning up your diet, the easier it is to forget where you started. There are so many things we learn along the way that you don’t realize aren’t normal for everyone. If you’ve been at this a while, this post will be a good refresher. And if you’re looking to make a change, you’ve come to the right place!
My hope is that today’s post is a resource for you, me or even a friend. These tips are the foundation for my own healthy lifestyle. When my energy starts waning, my skin is breaking out or I just feel like crap, this is the guide I come back to time and time again. And no matter where you’re starting, we are all beginners at some point. So let’s chat about my beginner’s guide to cleaning up your diet.
Learn What A Macro Is
Something I hear constantly from fitness youtubers and instagramers is about counting macros. But years ago when I started to focus on my health, I didn’t have a clue. What the heck is a macro and why do I need to count them? Macro stands for macronutrient. There are three: fat, protein and carbs. These make up your diet no matter how you choose to eat. However knowing how much you’re getting in each meal and during the day can help you determine any tweaks you need to make in cleaning up your diet.
First things first though, you have to be able to know what is what in your meals. The easiest way to do this is to track your meals for a few days. I’m not a massive fan of tracking but it’s a good way to see things you might typically miss. MyFitnessPal* and Lifesum* are both great apps that let you track foods and show you the macros as well. A fabulous tool if you’re looking to make changes and don’t really know what you’re eating.
Read Your Labels
I go through phases with this but there are times where I get a bit slack. If I’m buying a new food, I always read the label. Typically I’m checking for extra sugar, dairy or gluten. These are all things I’m sensitive to in my diet. But reading labels is key if you’re looking at cleaning up your diet.
There are tons of foods that sneak into places you’d never suspect. And if you’re looking at certain goals, knowing what is in your foods is essential. Because of my tendency towards hormonal acne & whacky hormones in general, I’m extra mindful of how much soy I consume. And soy is one of those foods that is SNEAKY. You’ll find it in coconut oil spray, crackers and chocolate. Training yourself to read labels is a great tool at helping you be more mindful. You’ll also learn a lot very quickly once you start.
Pay Attention To Your Energy Levels
If you’re feeling constantly tired or like you need a nap every day at 2pm, it’s probably time to focus on cleaning up your diet. And I’m 100% speaking to myself here. Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself feeling extra tried throughout the day and hitting a serious slump come 2pm. Why? Because I was sipping on far too much coffee and constantly spiking my blood sugar.
Your body is great at giving you all kinds of cues on what’s happening inside. Paying attention to your energy levels is one of the easiest ways to see if you are really helping your body with your diet. It just requires being a bit more mindful than normal.
FOCUS ON BALANCING YOUR MEALS
This one goes hand in hand with energy levels for me. But it’s also something that can help you if you feel like you’re constantly hungry or in need of a snack. I’ve gotten out my soapbox about eating healthy fats on the blog a lot. Today is no exception. Focusing on balancing your meals when cleaning up your diet is major. Keeping your blood sugar levels in check helps deal with all kinds of things in your body. From those who are prone to insulin resistance or even if you have a thyroid issues, your body sugar levels can truly effect you. And making sure you’re getting a balance of fat, protein and fiber in your meals will help keep you from reaching for at that afternoon cookie when you start to fade.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE ADD ONS
When it comes to cleaning up your diet, I’ve always found it’s the things we aren’t paying attention to that get us in trouble. All the little things we add in here and there add up. And before we know it, our healthy meal is suddenly drowning in loads of added sugars, saturated fats and other bits. Learn to pay attention to the add ons.
If you’re a regular sauce or dressing user, this is one you’ll need to focus on when cleaning up your diet. Salad dressing, sauces and even ketchup are often riddled with hidden sugars. And while I don’t think demonizing sugar is the answer, I know that a lot of it can mess with your energy levels and cause a load of problems if you don’t know you’re consuming it. Being mindful can go a long way towards making efforts to create your healthy lifestyle.
START WITH SMALL SWAPS
I more than understand that not everyone can afford to clean out their pantry and refill it with everything from Whole Foods. So let’s be real about this part of cleaning up your diet. Start with the things you use all the time. If you’re cooking with vegetable oil, swap to avocado* or olive oil*. Maybe your family is a regular spaghetti eater, look at buying sauce without added sugar. Or you could be someone who needs their sweet treat fix every night. Instead of waiting hours after, try to eat it closer to a time when you’ve had a good balance of healthy fats and protein so it doesn’t spike your energy so much. Start small and work up from there.
MAKE ONE CHANGE AT A TIME
Building a healthy lifestyle and cleaning up your diet takes time. And the best thing you can do for yourself is focus on creating healthy habits one at a time. Learn to cook some of your favorite meals at home. Find healthier alternatives for your favorite sauces or add ons. Take it a little at a time. Cleaning up your diet can feel overwhelming if you suddenly think you can’t eat anything. Give yourself grace and tackle a little bit per week or even per month.
DEFINE YOUR WHY
I say this all the time but even I forget it. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, you won’t stick with it when it gets hard. When I decided to try a plant based diet, I heard more times than I can remember: well I could never give up dairy. Here’s the thing though, my why was so strong that it never phased me. I gave up dairy because I was tired of feeling severe stomach pains from food. It was powerful.
Your why might not involve pain. You might want to have more energy to play with your kids. Or maybe you’re cleaning up your diet because your life is creeping towards a disease you know could kill you. Whatever your why is define it, write it down and repeat it. Come back to it whenever you feel like giving up or like things aren’t happening in the time you want them to happen. You why will get you through far more than fad diets and the initial fun of making changes. And that same why will be why you stick with your choices years later.
What about you? What’s on your guide to cleaning up your diet? I’d love to know some of your tips and tricks below. Until next time. Xoxo, Savvy
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