Going on a weight loss mission with a fad diet or working out after cutting down food intake dramatically is a bad idea. For one, the workout will not have any effect on your body, and two your body will start to lose important vitamins and minerals which are key for weight loss.

The first step to getting healthier is eating clean – not giving up food entirely. The benefits of this will trickle down into your fitness routine as well.

Clean eating is just a trendy way of telling you to go back to the basics and it changes your eating habits one meal at a time, without you needing to make paradigm shifts. It is an approach that fortifies your eating habits – it promotes eating healthier food stuffs, whole foods, and minimising the intake of processed dairy, sugars and fats.

With all the packaged, processed foods in the supermarket aisles, managing a healthy diet regime and sticking to it is quite tasking, and leaves you feeling frustrated about eating. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Just follow these 4 commandments of clean eating, and you will be as good as gold.

Start going whole
When you choose whole foods such as whole grains, lentils, vegetables over refined cereals, ready-to-eat meal packers, or artificially sweetened canned fruits and veggies, you are naturally tempting fate. Choose fresh fruit instead of packed juices, and avoid snack bars like the plague, even if they advertise zero fat. It’s not just the fat that does you in, but the processed ingredients as well.

Mantra #1: Eat whole, locally available food

Opt for fresh over cheap

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Fresh produce may not be cheap but it does not come at the price of your health. Cheaper supermarket fare might be light on your wallet, but it may also be devoid of any nutrients. Fresh fruits and veggies have higher fibre content, and their vitamins and minerals are intact without being exposed to the elements. And even multiple servings of fruits and vegetables won’t do much damage to your waistline.

Mantra #2: Go fresh, even at an extra cost

Curb your junk enthusiasm
You might not think it, but junk foods are nearly always full of harmful chemicals and carcinogens that may be deadly in the long run. Already there’s a lot of clamour over the role of junk, deep-fried foods in causing cancer in the food pipe. And then there’s the matter of excess oil, fats and carbs in these foods. Why put your body through that? Only go for junk on the odd day when you are pressed for time.

Mantra #3: Junk the junk

Limit sugar intake
Sugar messes with your system, especially when taken in large amounts at once. To clean up your diet, be careful about your consumption patterns around refined sugars, fats and salt. Make a food diary so you can keep a track of how much sugar you have been putting into your body. In addition, even so-called savoury products from stores might contain refined sugars, especially when it comes to sauces and condiments.

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The supermarket is swamped with a variety of products; you need to judiciously pick the healthiest of them. Do not get fooled by false health claims, read the food labels and the list of ingredients carefully before you make your pick. Choose products that have less refined ingredients, preservatives and artificial sweeteners.

Mantra #4: Watch the sugar!

Be mindful about food
Listening to your instincts is never a bad thing when it comes to food. Your body knows what’s right and comfortable for you and  you will know it too. Mindfully eating helps you make out the difference between appetite and hunger, whether you really need some food, or whether your mind is just craving due to your high appetite. Avoid feeding your emotions, and build a calendar for your eating so you know when to chow. Listen to the body’s response while consuming a particular food, which can give you a hint about whether it agrees with you or not.

Mantra #5: Pay attention to your meals

Whether it’s weight loss or simply an overhaul of your lifestyle, your food and diet is at the centre of it. It’s not about causing a revolution such that your body rejects it, but making sure it adapts over time to a healthier diet. Clean eating can make a huge difference in your fitness, physical activity, sex life, concentration, heart health. And just keep the five commandments in mind and you will be eating clean in no time.

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