Do you feel like your diet needs a fresh start? When life happens and you abandon healthy food in favor of whatever is nearby or comes out of a packet or pouch, it's time for a "clean" break. That's why we're bringing you SHAPE's 7-Day Clean Eating Challenge. While a clean eating diet plan may seem challenging, our plan is manageable and the payoffs include skyrocketing energy, weight loss, better control over your appetite, and even better-looking skin.
Just follow these 5 simple rules and try our clean eating meal plan:
1) Eat only whole foods. That means eating oats and blueberries rather than a blueberry muffin. When you eat packaged foods, only buy brands that contain “real food” ingredients-ingredients you easily recognize, can pronounce, and would use to make a “from scratch” version in your own kitchen. If a food contains even one ingredient that makes you think “huh?” skip it, at least during the clean eating challenge.
RELATED: For a super healthy and delicious snack, watch Heidi Klum make homemade hummus and kale chips, then try the recipe yourself.
2) Keep meals simple. Delicious, healthy food doesn’t have to contain a lot of ingredients. Keep your meal ingredients to a minimum—just be sure to include a source of whole grains, lean protein and healthy fat at each meal. For example, veggies and shrimp stir fried in sesame oil over a bed of brown rice seems restaurant quality but can be whipped up faster than takeout.
3) Eat slower. Put your fork or spoon down between every bite, and focus on the flavors and textures of your food.
4) Eat on a regular schedule. Try not to let more than about 4 hours go by between meals or snacks. Steady meal timing helps regulate your digestive system, blood sugar and insulin levels, and appetite.
RELATED: When you do your food shopping for the week, be sure to avoid these grocery store fat traps that can make you gain weight.
5) Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, meaning satisfied, not stuffed. The recipes here intentionally don’t provide amounts. That’s so you get used to relying on your hunger and fullness cues to tell you when to stop and start eating.
Each day eat three clean eating meals and one snack.
DAY ONE SAMPLE DIET:
THREE CLEAN EATING MEALS AND ONE SNACK
Cook old fashioned quick cooking oats using organic skim or soy milk. Top with a sliced apple and garnish with chopped walnuts.
RELATED: For more morning meal ideas, try these 8 "dinner foods" you should eat for breakfast.
CLEAN EATING LUNCH IDEA
Toss baby spinach with balsamic vinegar and salt-free dried Italian herbs. Top with a scoop of chilled red quinoa and cannellini beans (canned, drained and rinsed beans are OK) and sliced avocado.
CLEAN EATING SNACK IDEA
Drizzle a little honey into a container of nonfat Greek yogurt, fold in a sliced mini banana and garnish with sliced almonds.
DAY ONE CLEAN EATING DINNER IDEA
Saute onion, halved grape tomatoes and chopped green bell pepper in extra virgin olive oil until slightly tender. Add chicken breast or organic tofu to heat through. Serve over whole wheat penne.
DAY TWO CLEAN EATING DINNER IDEA
Lentils and quinoa with mint and lemon saute chopped red onion, minced garlic, celery and red bell pepper in extra virgin olive oil until tender. Add lentils (vacuum sealed or canned, rinsed and drained are both OK) to heat through. Serve over a small scoop of cooked quinoa and garnish with fresh mint and juice from a fresh lemon wedge.
RELATED: Have a healthy meatless dinner on the table in no time by making one of these 10-minute vegetarian meals.
DAY THREE CLEAN EATING DINNER IDEA
Tuna Lettuce Wraps with Basil Pesto and Couscous
Fill large outer romaine lettuce leaves with a mixture of drained chunk light tuna canned in water tossed with basil pesto, minced sundried tomatoes and whole-wheat couscous.
RELATED: When you don't have time to hit the grocery store, whip up one of these healthy and delicious meals you can pull from your pantry.
DAY FOUR CLEAN EATING DINNER IDEA
Mexican Salad with Corn, Avocado, Beans, and Lime
Mix mashed avocado with minced onion, tomato, fresh lime juice and cilantro. Toss with torn romaine to coat leaves. Top with a small scoop each of frozen, thawed corn and black beans (canned, drained and rinsed are OK).
RELATED: Keep homemade salads low-cal by skipping the bottle and making your own green goddess dressing.
DAY FIVE CLEAN EATING DINNER IDEA
Seared Shrimp in Coconut Oil
On the stovetop, sear fresh shrimp in coconut oil and season with fresh grated ginger and scallions. Serve over a bed of mixed field greens and top with fresh pear slices.