There’s a lot of chatter lately about clean eating, and I couldn’t be happier about it. When I first made the switch to eating clean, I felt like the odd one out. No one knew what “clean eating” was let alone how to do it. I was on my own. Instead of constructive questions I received strange sideways glances as I munched on a fresh zucchini in public.
I wasn’t judging them for their preservative-laden snacks, and yet I was being judged for treating my body with a little love and decency. But now, to my delight, the term has become a buzzword as it enters mainstream culture—and tummies rejoice everywhere.
There’s really no way to describe how you feel after eating this way for a couple of weeks besides, well, clean. Every part of your being—even the parts you never would have associated with digestion—seems happier. Things just seem to work better. And then this magical thing happens: you start to crave clean foods. I’m serious! As soon as you’ve wiped away that tear over your decision to forgo that mid-morning Cronut copycat, fresh fruit is all you can think about when your sweet tooth aches.
Of course, we all get into eating ruts. We get bored; we lose interest. Sometimes it’s easier to eat the unhealthier options. That’s why creativity is your best friend. If you let your imagination run wild, and offer it inspiration in the form of new foods and recipes each week, you’ll be able to stick to your clean eating resolution.
Before “going clean” I had a lot of favorite foods -- especially for entertaining -- that required sour cream. I quickly learned that organic Greek yogurt could be a low-fat, high-protein substitute – and that it didn’t fall short on creaminess and flavor. For a dairy-free alternative, mash avocado into recipes that require creaminess. You’ll get the texture you want with the added bonus of all the nutrition avocados have to offer.
Once I saw eating clean in terms of swapping “this” not-so-healthy thing for “that” nutritious alternative, a whole new world opened up to me. It was like solving a fun riddle that had my body begging for more.
Instead of butter, I use healthy alternatives without saturated fats, like extra virgin olive oil or organic coconut oil. No sugar and milk for me, please—I’ll take my tea with sugar ground from dates and almond “milk,” which is touted as one of the healthiest dairy alternatives on the market.
Vegetables make great gluten alternatives, too. Trade spaghetti for spaghetti squash and swap out the pizza crust with cauliflower “dough.” No Italian will fault you for this healthy change up.
It’s simple -- and simplicity is the foundation of clean eating. Choose whole, healthy foods that fulfill your dietary needs without any extra, negative side effects. You’ll wind up with a happy, more glowing version of you.
Amie Valpone is a celebrity chef and nutrition expert who healed herself from a decade of chronic illness. She is the author of the new cookbook Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body and the founder of TheHealthyApple.com. Amie has been featured in numerous magazines and TV. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.