Are you wondering what the whole clean eating trend is all about? We're sharing the clean eating philosophy with you, along with tips on how to get started with a lifestyle change.
You’ve probably heard before about clean eating, but may not exactly know what it’s about and how to join the health trend. Clean eating is consuming whole foods which are near as possible to their natural state.
In other words, it is eating only foods which have undergone minimal processes of refining, processing and handling, making them as close to their natural state as possible. It does not involve eating a specific amount of food or less of something, but being mindful of where the food comes from, its process and how you finally put it on your plate.
Nowadays, it is difficult to find foods which have not been refined or processed in some way. This becomes a challenge for clean eating enthusiasts. The rationale of clean eating emphasizes on raw food options such as fruits and vegetables while eliminating refined grains, sugars, salt and unhealthy fats and proteins.
Should You Be Eating Clean?
Anyone aspiring for a healthy diet should go for clean foods. Eating clean is very easy to follow and does not require any strenuous effort apart from being mindful of your food choices.
Unlike dieting, you are not restricted to any specific amount of food and hence calories. You can eat as much as you would like to, or less for that matter. What is important is to ensure that you make healthy food choices by selecting foods that are not refined or processed. Choose foods which are as close to their natural and raw state as much as possible.
How to Go about Eating Clean Food and Why it is Important to You
Clean eating has a lot of dietary benefits that comes along with it. Knowing how to make the right food choices is only the beginning. With the challenge of not knowing which food is to be considered clean, it is vital that you follow these steps to be able to eat clean.
Eliminate processed foods
Processed foods have undergone various refining stages. They have additives and ingredients which are considered unhealthy.
To begin with, check whether the ingredient list has anything that is classified as an unhealthy additive, artificial flavors or artificial colors. Many refined foods have sodium, sugar and hydrogenated fat, which do not qualify them as clean foods.
There are however cleaner packaged foods such as whole grain pasta, baby spinach and chickpeas which are all better clean eating options.
Eat more veggies
Vegetables are wonderful sources of the nutrients our bodies know how to use as fuel. Go for fresh vegetables, which are obtained straight from the farm – they are unprocessed and clean.
Look into joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, where you will receive a box of farm fresh produce each week.
Eat healthy fats
Healthy fats are vital for keeping your brain healthy, improving the health of your heart and raising the level of the good cholesterol – HDL cholesterol.
Reduce or eliminate alcohol
Alcohol may contain unhealthy sugars and excess amount of calories, which is not good for your health. Avoid mixed drinks containing lots of sugars. Be moderate in your alcohol intake. That means one drink per day for women and two for men.
Monitor your salt intake
Many people have a problem of taking more than the recommended limit of 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This exposes them to high blood pressure. By eating clean, you should avoid packaged foods which are high in sodium.
Eat whole grains
Choose whole grains which contain bran and germ, unlike refined grains which have them removed during processing. When shopping, check the label to ascertain that it is ‘whole wheat’ and not just ‘wheat’.
If you're gluten free, choose whole quinoa, rice and other gluten free grains. It's best to eat them in their whole form rather than in processed form like you find with breads and pastas.
Check the portion size of meat
Eat less meat. Don't worry – this does not mean that you entirely eliminate all meat. Instead, opt for pastured meat that has been grass fed and grass finished. Butcher Box is a great source for healthy meats.
Eat more fruits
Fruits are naturally sweet, delicious and rich in many vital nutrients. Grab a piece of fruit instead of something sweetened with sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. CSAs and Farmers Markets are great sources for delicious local and organic fruits.
Clean eating requires your deliberate effort by consciously choosing what to eat and being mindful all the time. It is not difficult once you are aware of what you should be eating and what to avoid.
Avoid or cut back on anything refined or containing unknown ingredients which form a lengthy list on the label. These are most likely processed and ultimately unclean foods.