Are you eating “crap”? Hear me out, because we may have different definitions of “crap.” I’m talking C.R.A.P.: Carbonated drinks, Refined sugars, Artificial foods, and Processed foods. So many of us who are “working on our nutrition” fall victim to these pitfalls day in and day out, and view eating clean as pure insanity (over long periods of time, it is). I’m here to help… Instead of opting for a restrictive fad diet (raw food diet, anyone?) or jumping head-first into ultra-clean eating that you know isn’t sustainable, here’s a 5-day, step-by-step challenge to slowly take you from CRAP to clean. By taking it day-by-day, you’ll avoid things like lack of energy, sugar cravings, hunger pangs, and mood swings. Note: Challenges build on each other. Thus, your day 1 challenge is applicable for all 5 days. Your day 2 challenge is applicable for days 2 through 5, and so on.
Day 1: Stop Pouring On The Pounds: Cut Soda, Juice, & Sugar-Filled Coffee
Let’s start simple by changing what you’re drinking. Soda (even diet) has gotta go. The standard stuff is loaded with sugar and diet drinks bring no nutritional value to the table. If it’s carbonation you seek, there’s plenty of carbonated waters you can get a fizz kick from.
Juices are a problem, too. Again, sugar being the issue. While the sugar may be straight from fruit, it adds up quickly. An 8-ounce cup of orange juice contains north of 20 grams, while an 8-ounce glass of grape juice has 30+. Then there’s coffee. While there’s no need to go cold turkey on caffeine, you gotta cut the added cream and sugar. Give black coffee a go (c’mon, it’s only 5 days) and sprinkle in some cinnamon for extra flavor. If you must have cream and sugar, cut your intake in half and progress from there.
Day 2: Whiteout: Cut White Bread & Pasta
With your beverages in check, let’s tackle carbs. Here’s a quick crash course for reference: Simple carbs are bad. They rapidly raise your blood sugar causing a whole host of problems. Complex carbs, on the other hand, are solid. They’re slow digesting, helping satiate you for long periods of time, and have minimal impact on blood sugar. So, we’re gonna ditch the most common simple carb culprits: white bread and white pasta. This means bagels, spaghetti, rolls, toast, French fries, and any other forms of the white stuff are goners. Replace these items with complex carbs that will keep you full and leave your blood sugar in check like oatmeal, Ezekiel bread, and sweet potatoes.
Day 3: Taste The Rainbow: Make Your Plate Colorful With Fruits & Veggies.
Let’s gamify your nutrition: See how many colors you can cover your plate with using fruits and veggies.
Fruits and veggies are the foundation of the food pyramid because they’re nutrient-dense and jam packed with a boatload of vitamins and minerals. Include them in every meal — maybe even every snack — and remember, the more the merrier!
Day 4: Timing Is Everything: Eat 5 Meals Per Day
I’m not encouraging you to eat more calories, but I am encouraging you to eat more frequently. By having small meals every 3-4 hours, you’ll keeps your metabolism revved, you’ll have constant fuel for steady energy, and you’ll battle sugar cravings and hunger pangs by staying satiated. Now, use the principles from Day 1 – Day 3 to ensure these meals are in fact healthy. If you’re just using this as an excuse to eat more CRAP, you’re gonna feel like crap.
Day 5: Keep it Clean: Eat Real Food
Here’s where we officially eliminate the CRAP. At least for a day. Remember, I believe eating completely clean is not sustainable. Moving forward, you’ll just want to limit these things. The good news? You’re already there. We’ve set you up for success during days 1-4. So, for today, follow all of the principles above and officially limit the CRAP: Carbonated Drinks, Refined Sugars, Artificial Foods, and Processed Foods. It won’t be easy, but it will pay off.
Start by making the challenges from Day 1 – 4 part of your everyday routine. They are simple and sustainable, built to last. Make an effort to limit the “crap” rather than eliminating the “crap.” And start adding in some exercise. Nutrition and exercise work as a team to ensure you’re healthy and happy. As for the exercise part, give home workouts a go with FORTË’s free trial. Clay Manley is a word nerd with a fitness background. A Certified Personal Trainer who took his talents to the keyboard. You can give him a shout and find more of his work here. Stay up on the latest in FORTË fitness by joining us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Have a success story? Share it with us and we’ll share it with the world. #ForeverFit