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A clean and healthy diet | Clean eating

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Happy Tuesday! Rosie here.  If you've been following our Sunday Summaries or seen my 2012 Round Up you'll know that I don't follow a specific 'diet' - I just 'eat clean' and make healthy choices.  By doing this, along with regular exercise, I lost a stone in a couple of months at the end of last year.  This was with a lot of help from Charis, who runs 'Louca Personal Training'.  Charis has kindly offered to write some posts for Where Are My Knees and we have some great posts lined up from him about strength training and the importance of goals.  His first post is about a clean and healthy diet.  Over to you Charis...

A lot of people think that getting a healthy, lean and good looking body is something extremely complicated, needing all sorts of expensive equipment, and someone to stand over you and make sure you hit the precise correct angle on your situps. Well, I’m here to tell you it is not – all it takes is some simple discipline and planning. Here are 5 tips to help you stick to a cleaner and healthier diet.

If you can’t find it in nature, don’t have it

A lot of food nowadays goes through various levels of processing to get it to the supermarket shelf. You must be able to recognise it and understand how far it is from its natural form in order to make educated and healthy choices. If something is so far gone from its natural state that you cannot directly relate it to something found in nature, then move on.  You want the absolute basics – vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, eggs, limited and high quality unprocessed dairy (raw/unpasteurised products only), legumes and beans. Avoid all products with added sugar, sweeteners, all processed foods, most cereal, most bread, most prepared meals (unless you trust the source to use natural ingredients), and the majority of drinks except natural juices, water and green/white tea or variants without sugar or sweeteners (except honey, which is a far better alternative and natural).  Disregard the majority of products that are not 100% what they say on tin. For example peanut butter can be part of a healthy diet; as long as it is 100% natural peanut butter – not 80% peanut butter, 10% sugar and 10% hydrogenated fat.

Fat is your friend, sugar is not

Healthy fats have a myriad of health benefits, from healthier skin, to hormone balancing, to cholesterol control. Also, without good quality dietary fat, your body will not get rid of its own bodyfat. With an influx of carbohydrates and low fat intake, your body will use those as a primary source of energy and store what is not used as bodyfat. “Low fat” products remove the fat, along with all its precious nutrients and benefits, and replace it with sugar or derivatives of sugar. The better option is to have moderate amounts of natural, healthy fats throughout your diet and lower your carbohydrate intake, while completely removing all processed sugar products.

Empty your kitchen before you start

When you decide to clean up your diet, you must get rid of all the other bad foods and drinks you have in your kitchen. If you suddenly change your eating and drinking habits for the better, you will start to crave the things you used to enjoy but ultimately do you nothing but harm. By having these things around the house, it is far too easy to give it to the cravings and ruin your diet before you’ve even started. It takes about 10 days to kick bad food cravings. After that, they will be more sporadic, and you may well be able to have something you really miss and get away with it under the 80/20 rule (below).

Plan/ Cook in advance

In order to enjoy your cleaner diet, you must cook and plan in advance. The best way to help your diet fail is to put yourself in a position where the only option is no food or junk food.  You must prepare as much as possible in advance, and this requires a plan. With my clients I like to organise a weekly meal plan, review it at the weekend, and they can shop and cook accordingly as the week goes on. Without this plan, you are leaving things down to chance, as maybe you are delayed from work and slowly fading away from hunger, you have some errands to run or you just can’t be bothered to go to the effort of preparing and cooking something clean every single day, and would much rather prefer to get a frozen pizza instead to save time and effort. The easiest options are usually the worst, so plan in advance and make preparations. Cook larger portions of food, use leftovers intelligently, and prepare in good time, including healthy snacks – not just main meals.

80/20 rule

So you have stuck to your diet well and you are making good progress but it is your mum’s birthday next Friday. Her sister makes her a big chocolate cake every year, with choux pastries on top, and it is truly a sight to behold and a culinary delight. This is where the 80/20 rule comes in. If you have been eating clean and looking after yourself for 80% of your meals, you can afford to have something not quite so clean the other 20% of the time. I would prefer a 90/10 approach, but 80/20 is a good start and is much easier mentally for someone to agree to and sacrifice any other bad food opportunities that come up. It is like money in the bank. You can keep up with your savings (eating clean) by not spending all your money in the January sales (avoiding bad food), and then one day you can splash out on something you really want (get in great shape). Or, you can keep getting little items you don’t really want (snacking on biscuits, eating badly), and then after a few months you are wondering why your bank balance is really in the red (you’re out of shape).

And here’s a bonus 6th tip – BE PATIENT. Results are not overnight. It’s the months of focus that count, not the hours. Don’t weigh yourself every day and wonder why you haven’t lost a stone this week yet even though you’ve been really disciplined and gone to the gym twice since you started 4 days ago. Track progress every week or even two weeks, and there should be a pleasing result.

Good luck! Feel free to leave questions in the comments or contact me as below!

Are you someone who wants to make a positive lifestyle change? Or maybe you are an active person who wants guidance to take your results to the next level, or even a competitive athlete wanting to finish on the podium at your next competition? Then contact me at www.loucapersonaltraining.com or Twitter @LoucaPT with any questions you may have! 10% discount for clients through Where Are My Knees, just give it a mention in your query!


  1. Love this!!!


  2. Great advice. I pay a lot more attention to food labels than I used to since learning about clean eating.

  3. Great advice, I am all for clean eating, and I especially love the tip about giving up sugar- especially sweeteners- and embracing fat, it is something that more people should do!

  4. Glad you liked it guys!

    Any requests for future articles?

  5. Some great tips, and generally really sound advice. However I have to take issue with the idea of honey being a better/more natural alternative than sugar. While I'd agree that you should avoid sweeteners and go for natural sweetness, there is no real evidence to show that honey is better for you than sugar. Both are simple sugars that provide a lot of calories and quick energy - in terms of the effect on your blood sugar levels, your body can't tell the difference between them. Honey does contain some minerals, but only in trace amounts. Furthermore, sugar is derived from sugar beet and sugar cane, so does come from nature. A lot of people are trying things like Agave syrup as lower GI alternatives to both of these, however this has it's own problems... sweetness is a bit of a mine field it seems!

  6. Some really great tips. Im a bit of a sugar fiend, too much baking in my life. I also don't do so well with the 80/20 rule. I may have to clean out my kitchen like you said :) x

  7. New Diet Taps into Pioneering Plan to Help Dieters Lose 20 Pounds in Just 21 Days!