Welcome to the new Clean Eating 101! I am updating content on the blog with some fresh ideas and more information!
So…what is clean eating? Does it mean that you wash your food before you eat it? (Yes obviously) No! Is it a new fad diet? Absolutely not. Is this like that Whole30 thing? Absolutely!
Here is what it is…
Clean eating is a diet program based on the idea that the best way to eat is to abundantly enjoy whole foods — that is, foods as close to their natural state and you can get them. This means eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of pre-packaged, processed foods or fast food. Clean eating is also committed to replacing saturated fats with healthy fats. Many on the plan don’t count calories, but instead trust in good quality, healthy food.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choose fresh, unprocessed foods over canned or processed products. Clean eating enthusiasts believe that we were meant to survive on fresh fruits and vegetables and that processing them reduces their nutritional value and fiber content and adds salt, fat, sugar and chemicals. Choose fruit instead of fruit juice and if you must pick a processed vegetable, frozen is always better than canned. If it has a label you probably shouldn’t eat it. But if cost is a factor, as it is for some…READ the ingredients. If it contains MORE than 5 ingredients, none of the ingredients are other clean, unprocessed foods…then just put it back and move along.
Balance protein and complex carbohydrates. Incorporate whole grains like brown rice or millet over processed grains. Eat lean meats, and choose organic or grass-fed meats when possible as these foods are usually clean of pesticides, hormones and additives. Grill, broil or steam your meats rather than frying.
Avoid sodas and high calorie, sugary drinks. Follow the tenant of clean eating that aims to remove added sugars from the diet. Choose water or tea for your beverages, or juice your own fruits and vegetables and enjoy them without added sugars or preservatives. I prefer not to drink my calories. And there are so many lab-created chemicals in beverages these days…it’s just best to avoid them altogether. Remember calorie-free does not mean healthy!
Trade bad fats for good fats. One of the most important aspects of clean eating is removing saturated fats from the diet. Lower your saturated fat intake by avoiding fast food, choosing lean cuts of meat and getting your fat calories from foods like nuts and fatty fish. As Americans we love our condiments, and sauces. This is one area that you can vastly improve your diet…cut the condiments, and opt for spices instead…or make your own at home like mayo, or a simple salad dressing with olive oil and vinegar with some spices. There is a lot of debate around oils, but oils and fats are not something to fear! Oils and fats are very good for, the right oils and fats that is, in moderation. Look for coconut oil, avocado oil, and EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil). Choosing nuts like cashews, dry roasted almonds, or adding some avocado to your salad…or anything really, can give that natural oil and fat that your body needs for a healthy metabolism, and to keep things moving…if ya know what I mean.
Eat several small meals to keep blood sugar stable and to avoid overeating. Choose snacks like nuts, low-fat or fat-free dairy and fruits and vegetables. Note that some people who live a clean eating lifestyle don’t eat dairy products while others adapt clean eating to a vegetarian lifestyle. There is so much misinformation out in the internets about what you should and shouldn’t eat…don’t eat eggs, they are bad for your cholesterol; Not true. Egg whites are a great source of lean protein, and not at all bad for you. Don’t eat fruit, it’s high in sugar. Again, not entirely true. Because fruit is not full of white sugar, the sugar that is actually bad for you. Fruits do have natural sugar, and the only time I would say not to go crazy is if you are diabetic. Fruits provide so many natural sources of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to survive, you don’t want to skip them.
Clean Eating can be a little, ok well…a LOT overwhelming if you jump in headfirst going from an unbalanced, unhealthy diet. The detox process can actually make you a little sick. This tends to deter people from making this change thanks to fad detox diets, and fad juice cleanses. So I recommend a transition diet to get you started. So…what’s a transition diet?
We’ll discuss that in our next post! So stay tuned!