You may be familiar with the clean eating movement but for those of you who are not, I would like to elaborate. Clean eating is not about hygiene at all, it’s about cleaning up our diet through eating whole and unprocessed foods. Clean eating movement has been evolved through decades and now is entering the mainstream. The concept revolves around maintaining a balanced and personalized diet of fresh, unprocessed food, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. For some, it also includes eggs, meats, fish, and dairy. In clean eating, rather than focusing on a strict diet and eliminating specific things or cutting back on our calorie intake, we focus on being mindful of the food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or REAL FOODS meaning those that are un- or minimally processed and refined.
In today’s world it’s challenging to eat clean because most of the options we encounter in supermarkets and restaurant are not in this category. So the question is: Why should we bother to keep up with eating clean?
Many advocates cite clearer skin, weight loss, increased energy, stronger hair and nails, improved mental health, and better sleep. Rather than simply going on diets, these individuals often make sustainable lifestyle shifts when they choose to eat clean and feel much healthier. The clean eating approach emphasizes quality over quantity. Not all calories are equal! When you stick to whole foods, you’re much more likely to keep your caloric intake at an appropriate level for your body and maintain a healthy weight as a result. It’s easy to eat your way through an entire bag of potato chips, but eating several apples in a row would actually be difficult! Whole foods fill you up and fuel you, whereas empty calories, like those found in candy and chips, give you a quick boost of energy but often lead to a crash and hunger shortly after. Whole foods help regulate cholesterol levels and ward off cancer, dementia, and a plethora of other conditions. In addition, the high fiber content of fruits, vegetables, and grains keeps the digestive system in tiptop shape, which is essential to optimal health. Moreover, eating whole foods ensures you get adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium. Whole foods boast incredible nutrition profiles, so it’s best to eat a wide range to ensure any nutritional void is filled. Sure, you could pop vitamins in pill form all day, but nutrients are much more valuable – and sometimes more readily absorbed when consumed through food as a whole package. Science is just beginning to discover the vast range of health-supportive compounds contained in whole foods, so if you look to supplements as your main nutrient source, you may miss out on more than you realize.
Clean eating does not come with a specific guideline, but here are some tips to help you get going:
- Keep it whole: Stick to whole foods – those that occur in nature and don’t require flashy packaging. Examples include fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed and freerange meats, dairy, eggs, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Make your meals at home: It’s almost guaranteed that home cooked meal is more nutritious than a restaurant meal. For example, restaurant food is often higher in salt and sweeteners compared to foods you might prepare at home. And who knows the quality of ingredients used in a restaurant setting?!
- Limit refined carbohydrates: Remove or at least reduce the amount of white foods like white sugar, salt, white flour, white rice, etc. This means you have to say bye to all standard desserts containing white sugar as well as refined grains (like white rice) and foods containing white flour (like pasta, pastries, and bread).
- Maintain consistent eating times and try not to skip meals: Keeping your blood sugar stable through scheduled healthy food choices leads to effortless weight management and boosting your overall health. When you wait too long between meals or eat processed foods that spike blood sugar – leading to a crash in energy – you’re more likely to reach for foods high in sugar, fat, or caffeine to keep up your energy. If you continue this cycle of highs and lows, you may feel irritable and exhausted. By eating whole foods every few hours, you avoid extreme shifts in your blood sugar. Additionally, nutritious food choices help support more stable blood sugar regulation, which can help reduce inflammation which is linked to many health disorders.
- Balance your plate: Portion control is super important and it’s an individual thing linked to your gender, age, body mass index and level of physical activity. You should aim to get protein, carbohydrates, and fat at every meal. This will create optimal blood sugar levels and may stave off cravings and brain fog. Some examples of great protein sources include grass-fed meat, fish, tempeh, and legumes. Top-notch fat options are avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. When reaching for complex carbs, try whole grains, like quinoa, farro, brown rice, or buckwheat, and vegetables, like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, or artichokes.
I would like to conclude with my favorite saying:
“The way you do anything is the way you do everything”
If you take care of yourself by eating clean food, you may find it easier to also engage in self-care such as exercise, meditation, and other stuff that help make your life rich and vibrant. When you feel great, you’re able to move through your days with joy and ease, creating and nurturing supportive relationships and a career you love. Eating cleaner is a principle that everyone can employ in some sense. When I started to eat clean, not only I lost weight effortlessly, but I said bye to feeling fatigued and off-base just after having breakfast! I began to feel much more energetic and vibrant and most importantly my mood improved significantly. I hope this article serves you as a starting point to begin some shifts in the way you approach food.
Loads of Love
P.S. Here is a link to BBCgoodfood for 51 clean eating recipes: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/clean-eating-recipes