The Weight-Loss Strategy That Will Change Your Relationship With Food

POPSUGAR Photography | Jae Payne
POPSUGAR Photography | Jae Payne

While keeping calories in check is necessary, being healthy is built on more than numbers. In order to lose weight and keep it off, eating clean can be the key to your continued success. Instead of feeling like you're on a "forever" diet, committing to the clean-eating lifestyle can help you achieve the results you're after and feel more energized than you could have imagined. Here's how to do it.

Stop With Processed Food

One of the easiest ways to get started is to replace processed grub with natural, minimally processed ingredients. Not only are these options more nutritious, but their flavors are also more satisfying. The occasional indulgence is absolutely necessary, but cleaning up your daily diet is one of the best moves you can make to ensure consistent weight loss. Opt for natural whole foods with ingredients you can pronounce!

Eat More Produce

If you're not sure how to snack, always pick up some produce; fresh fruit and veggies will fill you up in a healthy way, and the fiber will keep you fuller, longer. Just like we've got to retrain our taste buds to stop with the salt and sugar, you'll find that your body will beg for produce once you start eating it consistently. These are the cravings we welcome with open arms.

Skip the Added Sugars

If your taste buds have been overloaded by sugar in the past, it's high time to clean things up. Natural sugar from fruit is what you're looking for on a clean-eating plan; the white sugar that goes into baked goods or your supersweet coffee beverage is not. And even if you're not a dessert junkie, you might be shocked at some of the everyday foods like bread and yogurt that pile on the sugar! Start being fastidious about reading labels and skipping added sugars whenever possible.

Learn to Look For Salt

Learning to relish the natural flavors of what you're eating can be a big adjustment if you're taking on a clean-eating plan — and salt is one of the ingredients that manages to sneak its way into strange foods like cottage cheese, bread, and cereal. As you start to exile processed or prepackaged foods from your life, you won't have to be as concerned about high-sodium products, but continue to keep your table-salt sprinkles to a minimum to beat bloat and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and more.

Cut Back on Caffeine

One cup of high-quality coffee is approved on most clean-eating plans — the Paleo diet has its own strange butter brew you can try if you're inclined — but it's important to keep caffeinated beverages to a minimum. Too much coffee can mess with your energy and anxiety levels and undo all the hard work you're putting in with your healthy food choices. If you must, sub in your second cup for green tea to stay on course.

Back Off the Booze

Alcohol is full of empty calories and tons of sugar, which can mess with all the hard work you put in with meal planning. Keep the booze to a minimum, and opt for an all-natural mocktail or a healthy nightcap when the mood strikes.

Go Whole Grain

Refined grains are one of those sneaky products that always find a way into a grocery cart. It's integral to look for real whole-grain products. Advertisers simply saying that a loaf of bread is multigrain or organic doesn't make it a clean food since many of these items are composed of refined flour. Real whole grains will aid in healthy digestion while cutting back on belly bloat.

Seriously . . . Read the Label

The nutritional info on labels is some of the best defense against culprits that hinder clean-eating success. A low-calorie number is always great to see, but knowing to look for crazy amounts of sodium, trans or saturated fat, or ingredients you simply can't pronounce will help you make the shift toward healthier choices — and understand why you're doing so!

Be sure to check out our 2-Week Clean-Eating Plan for everything you need, from shopping lists to recipes, to keep it clean for 14 days.