Hello Nutritarian’s Kristen Hong considers some simple ways you can cleanse your diet

Even being plant based doesn’t make you immune to holiday over-indulgences. With so many amazing vegan treats to be found at markets and in local restaurants (hello, vegan cronuts!) you may just be ready to ditch the rich, processed stuff and get back to basics. Here are some ways you can start
practicing eating clean that I promise are easy and delicious.

Think nutrients over calories

Forget about counting, restricting, or otherwise quantifying your calories. When you’re focusing on clean eating you want to be thinking about the nutrients in your food and letting that drive your decisions. It just so happens that the most nutrient-dense foods are also naturally low in calories.

That’s why you can eat so much more food when you follow a high-nutrient, whole food plant
based diet. You’re going to want to focus on eating more cruciferous veggies (like kale, broccoli and cabbage), beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and raw seeds. These foods earn top marks for giving your body what it really craves — those phytochemicals and nutrients that help nourish and detoxify at a cellular level.

Know thy frenemies

There are two foods that pretend to be your friends but really they aren’t doing you any favours. I’m talking about oil and salt. One of the best ways to start clean eating is to learn how to cook and season your foods without oil or too much added salt.

Oil is a highly-processed food that contains lots of calories and minimal nutrients. All oils are 100 per cent fat and stored easily as fat by our bodies. Guess what? You can do so much better than oil for a clean, plant based source of fat. Trade your oil for raw nuts, raw seeds and fresh avocado.

There are simple ways to cook without oil. Let your onions and mushrooms naturally caramelise as they release their own cooking juices over low heat. Sauté and stir fry at higher heats with veggie stock. Roast your veggies basted with coconut aminos or tahini sauce mixed with citrus juice and herbs.

We all know excess salt causes health problems and bloating but did you know it also deadens our taste buds and contributes to compulsive eating? You can learn to love the taste of foods in their natural state by aiming for less than 400-500 mg added sodium daily. Use less sodium in your cooking by focusing on spices and fresh herbs for flavour. Use salt-substitutes like nutritional yeast, coconut aminos, dulse flakes, and yellow miso paste instead of salt.

Make salad your main dish

Take your salads from sideshow to centre stage. Eat a large salad as your main dish followed by your cooked food for lunch and dinner. Challenge yourself to finish the whole salad before moving on to your soup, stir fry or pasta.

The beauty of eating raw vegetables is that they have high fibre and water content so they keep you fuller for longer and for a cheaper calorific price tag. They are also packed full of phytochemicals so they meet the body’s nutrient-need and keep us from craving unhealthy, processed foods.

The key to this principle is to make your salad huge — your co-workers should be having some serious salad envy when you pull out your lunch. You also want to use an oil-free, low-sodium salad dressing. My favourite way to eat my salad is by whipping up extra-creamy, no oil hummus in my blender, adding ⅓ cup to the top of my salad and drizzling it all with balsamic vinegar. Other oil-free dressing options are pico de gallo salsa (look for brands with less than 80 mg sodium per serving), tahini sauce thinned with lemon juice or sunflower seed butter mixed with smashed raspberries.

Let your body have daily digestion breaks

Forget the whole ‘grazing’ fad, put down the popcorn and focus on eating your food during meal times. Sit down with the intention to eat until you’re just comfortably full and then don’t snack afterwards. In-between-meal snacking robs you of one of the body’s most powerful functions: the catabolic stage.

This is the phase your body enters after you have finished digesting the food you previously ate. When your body is no longer focused on digestion your cells are freed up to repair damaged DNA, fight free radicals and burn the stored energy that you’ve accumulated as fat. The catabolic stage is where real detoxing happens.

The most important time to extend your catabolic window is from the last meal of the day to the first meal of the following day. Try to extend this period out to at least 13 hours. That may mean eating your supper earlier or opting for a brunch rather than traditional breakfast time. Either way, this is one of the easiest things you can do to detoxify your body.

You can start clean eating right now. Choose one of these areas that you’re going to work on this week. It can be having a large, raw salad with an oil-free and low-salt dressing or committing to not snacking between meals. Focus on consistency over perfection. It takes time to overhaul your habits but I promise your body will reward you with more energy, focus and overall wellbeing.

 

• Hello Nutritarian helps to get you inspired, organized and ready to take action living whole food plant based! Focused on the work of Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Michael Greger, at Hello Nutritarian you’ll find recipes, videos and free printable resources to help you live better now. hellonutritarian.com

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