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Clean Eating: The Beginning

It's the latest trend. Here's how to get your head around it.

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Clean eating is, apparently, all about nutrition instead of weight loss, although that seems to come naturally for most people. It does involve binning some of your foodie favourites though, so if you're not prepared to give up bread, then I'd give this one a miss. But, if you're too carb heavy and dairy makes you bloat like a hot air balloon, then this might be worth a try.

If you need motivation, look no further than stellar British singer Sam Smith, who dropped the pounds by adopting clean eating. I mean, just look at him. We all want that.

Step One: Decide what you're aiming for

This is never going to work unless you know what you want to achieve and set yourself some limits. Clean eating basically asks you to give up all gluten/wheat based products, dairy and refined/processed sugar. So that's no bread, pasta, cheese, cereal, milk, chocolate, ice-cream, fizzy drinks - basically everything that you probably enjoy every day. Even plain old tonic water has sugar in it.

I'll let that soak in for a minute.

You're not going to wake up tomorrow and master this completely. As tempting as it is to give it a go in one big whack, it'll just fall apart and you'll feel disheartened. So, start slow. If you know eating wheat makes you feel worse than eating cheese, then begin by cutting out wheat and progress to cutting out everything else.

Step Two: Plan like your life depends on it

Planning is your friend when attempting any kind of diet or lifestyle change. Decide what you want to achieve and then plan how you're going to get there. You can do all of this in whatever order suits you.

Research recipes and different nutritionists who promote clean eating. You'll find tons of blogs online and on Instagram who post easy recipes and ideas to start you off, as well as motivational quotes and those 'fit and healthy' body shots that will make you want to eat nothing but quinoa for the rest of your life. Try someone like Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella to start. She's not scary at all.

Write down everything you're going to do, week by week. The next two weeks might be devoted to giving up wheat, but the week after that might be devoted to dairy. Setting goals is the only way to feel motivated enough to achieve things.

Bin everything that you can't eat anymore. No, seriously. Bin it. Or donate it if you feel bad for wasting food. Which you should. Don't do any of that 'well, I'll just eat the last of this pasta' stuff because then you'll never start. If it's not in the house, then you can't eat it. How simple is that?

Replace everything you've thrown out with stuff you can actually eat. Don't sit there and starve. Get online and find out some of the staples of clean eating, like gluten-free bread, brown rice, quinoa, chia seeds, oats and other stuff. You'll want to keep maple syrup or honey around for sweetening stuff. Oh, and popcorn. Popcorn is your best friend from now on.

Focus on where you fall down. Do you always skip breakfast and then buy a muffin on the way to work? Or do you order pizza every night because you're too lazy to cook? Pick your worst point and fix it. Make breakfast the night before or make dinner in the morning.

If you're feeling stuck for inspiration, check out Madeleine Shaw on YouTube. She'll give you a run down of some good basic ingredients to start buying and some easy recipes to kick you off. She's so perky, she'll make you feel perky too.

View this video on YouTube

Madeleine Shaw / Via youtube.com

Step Three: It's more than just the food

There's more to clean eating than just changing the way you eat although, obviously, that kind of comes first. Most nutritionists advocate what they call 'getting the glow,' which doesn't mean going out and getting a spray tan.

Clean eating should hopefully spread to the rest of your life, once you can get over the cost and missing Lurpak with a desperate passion. You should feel lighter, healthier and happier and have tons more energy than you used to when you were carbed out. Eating clean should also make you eat more 'gracefully' e.g. not filling up on Haribo until you want to gag, just because you can. Putting good things in your body makes you feel fuller for longer and should help control your portions.

Step Four: Make it your own

This isn't a diet that you have to follow to the letter. Unless you're allergic to any of the things you're cutting out, you don't have to force yourself not to eat them. Enjoy eating out still and make compromises with yourself about what you'll avoid and what you'll keep enjoying.

I mean, who could ever give up buffalo mozzarella? Seriously, who?

Only you know how you feel and whether this is going to stick or not. If you feel better, keep at it. If not, try something else. Don't torture yourself if it's not making a difference. Life's too short not to enjoy a good piece of cake every now and then.

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