Clean Eating - what does this really mean?
Would you be surprised to hear that there really aren’t any health goals you can achieve without it?
The above question may seem extreme, but the simple truth is, you just cannot get healthy without eating healthy.
You can exercise from the time the rooster crows until the cows come home, but if you make a run through your local drive-through afterwards, you just are not going to get anywhere fast.
Food is the big ticket to good health.
If you eat garbage, your body will show it.
If you eat whole, healthy and fresh foods, your body, skin and soul will glow with health that gives you endless energy.
But what is Clean Eating?
You may of heard also sorts of conflicting statements about Clean Eating, in fact some people have taken this concept so far that if would be nearly impossible for most people to afford let alone stick to it!
So lets take a look at what the ORIGINAL definition of Clean Eating was:
It used to imply eating lots of whole, real foods — veggies and fruit, whole-grains, animal and plant-based protein, nuts, seeds, and oils.
It also meant that what you eat should be as close to nature as possible — minimally processed, not packaged, or originating from a factory. Cooking at home and finding good ingredients were encouraged.
I LOVE this definition, it reminds me to read labels, check sources, and understand what's what about the food you eat. So this is the definition that I use for “Clean Eating”.
When purchasing food I think about 3 main things:
Would my ancestors been able to eat this?
MacDonald’s – no
Microwave meal – no
Cheese wrapped in plastic – no
Apples, veg, fish – YES
Can I pronounce everything on the label? (well there are some exceptions here!)
How many ingredients are in it (and is refined sugar one of them!)
I try to stick with only 3-4 ingredients (again there are exceptions to and as long as they are all natural ingredients I am ok with that)
I find by following those 3 simple rules most of the food I purchase I would consider “clean”
However if you would like to take this a step further below are some Clean Eating Principles for you:
Drink plenty of water a day (half your body weight in ounces is recommended at a minimum)
Put some fruit in it to flavor it if you don’t like the flavor of plain water
Limit Processed Foods
Increase your vegetable intake
These are filled with vitamins and a great source of fibre
Reduce saturated fats in your diet
You don’t have to cut out fats when you’re eating clean; instead just focus on healthy fats. It’s as simple as swapping out saturated fats (like those in butter, cheese and meat) in favor of healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil and the kind found in nuts and fatty fish.
TIP: Need help identifying fats?
Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. To cut back on saturated fat in your diet, try these simple swaps: top your salad with nuts instead of cheese, use natural peanut butter instead of cream cheese and replace mayonnaise with avocado on a sandwich.
Reduce the sugar in your diet
Start looking for foods without sugar in the ingredients list, there are a number of seemingly “healthy” foods which are loaded with sugar, for example vanilla Greek yogurt. Purchase plain Greek yogurt then sweeten with honey – that way you are getting a natural source of sweetener and you know EXACTLY how much you are getting.
Watch the salt
Cutting back on processed foods will help you reduce your salt intake, as most packaged foods contain more sodium than homemade versions.
TIP: To help minimize salt while you cook, flavor your food with herbs and spices, citrus and vinegar.
Remove Refined Grains from your diet
Cutting out white flour and refined grains is an easy way to eat cleaner. Refined grains—unlike whole grains—are more processed and often stripped of beneficial nutrients like magnesium, selenium and fiber. Plus, they’re typically found in unhealthy packaged foods, like baked goods and junky snack foods that may also deliver added sugars, saturated fats and extra sodium. Skip the packaged refined carbs like cookies, crackers and cakes altogether, and also swap white rice, white bread and white pasta for brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta (brown rice pasta is a great gluten free option).
NOTE: Many folks who are accustomed to processed foods have a difficult time with the natural flavors of real food. They claim they don’t like vegetables or anything much that is healthy.
If you are one of these people, I’m here to tell you that over time, your taste buds WILL change.
If you start eating this way regularly, you’ll see that eventually, the stuff you used to love just doesn’t taste the same any longer.
It’s amazing how “numb” our taste buds have become to real foods. Give it time. You’ll learn to love your spinach!
Comment below if this article has helped you, or if you have any other ideas to share.
And if this article did help, please share it with your friends and let it help them too!