We all know that eating healthy means avoiding sugary snacks and sodas and eating more fruits and vegetables, but what does it mean to eat clean?
Eating clean is not a specific diet. It is more a way of life and lifestyle change. Those who eat clean eat whole foods that are unrefined. This means replacing processed foods with natural, fresh foods.
Those you eat clean consume mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. Meats should be bought right from the butcher and prepared at home. Eating clean means eliminating additives and processed foods from your diet, so cold cuts or even ground turkey would not be added to your food shopping list. Those who eat clean also eat whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa.
It is important to read food labels when eating clean. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you should not be purchasing that item. Limit the number of ingredients in one specific item to 4-6. Remember that you want to be eating foods closer to their “whole” form. That does not mean that all foods are off the table. For example, Cynthia Sass, R.D. in an article stated that she had a client who said crackers would probably be out of my diet. Sass recommended comparing the ingredients in her organic crackers and the client’s usual brand. She found while the client’s crackers included a laundry list of unhealthy ingredients, the organic crackers had few and “real,” recognizable ingredients that would be okay to eat.
Those who eat clean should not eat foods that contain GMOs. And if you can make the food item at home, such as energy bars or condiments, opt to prepare instead of purchasing that food item. Cooking your own meals is a huge part in eating clean. Preparing your own meals means you know exactly what ingredients are going into your body. Eating clean foods means there is usually little preparing besides cutting up veggies, sautéing, and grilling or baking some lean meats. You can add herbs and spices such as basil, mint, parsley, cumin, and turmeric which all have health benefits to add some flavor and beat taste bud boredom.
Another aspect of eating clean is eliminating refined sugar. This could be harm for some because refined sugar is found in many types of food items. Refined sugar adds on calories and provides no other healthy nutrient. Instead, eat carbs with your protein to balance out your meals, making you feel full longer and less tempted to reach for junk food.
Eating clean reduces the risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases. It allows your body to get all the essential nutrients it needs without the artery clogging fats and added sugars in other foods. Your blood sugar will be regulated (make sure to eat 5-6 small meals per day like those who eat clean do), and you digestive system will become regular. Eating clean means you will be fueling your body with healthy foods to increase your energy and make you want to be healthy in other aspects of your life.
Do you eat clean? Why? What is your favorite recipe?