Clean eating started gaining popularity back in the mid-1990’s. Consumers were starting to pay attention to how foods were processed and grown. Health food stores were becoming more mainstream, to the point where grocery stores even have a dedicated section. Today, clean eating, or healthy living, is a way of life for many people of all walks of life.
Clean eating means everything from eating more fruits and vegetables to eliminating all processed foods, to using natural cleaning products. Basically, it means to eat whole foods and making mindful choices. So instead of eating a banana nut muffin, eat a banana and nuts instead. It means using foods that have only all natural ingredients. It means questioning the use of harsh chemicals in the house.
One way to replace those processed foods is to make homemade versions. Everything from energy bars to salad dressings to perfume can be created with whole natural ingredients at home. Clean eating recipes can be found for just about everything, from three-ingredient stir fries to homemade apple sauce and to sour pickles.
Eating clean gives you clearer skin, more energy, shinier hair and better sleep and moods as well as less aches and pains and clearer thinking.
Whole natural foods provide the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed for the body to function at its best. In fact, there are 17 essential minerals and 13 different vitamins. Nutrients are the foundation for the structure and function of our body’s cells. The health and the way these cells function is determined directly by what you eat.
Here are the four basics of clean eating:
- Nothing white.
No sugar, no white flour (bread, pasta, etc), and no white rice. The only white allowed is white vegetables, like parsnips. Read labels and ingredient lists on anything that comes in a container.
- No alcohol.
- Only healthy sources of fats.
Fats like olive oil, coconut oil and nut oils are perfect. Fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fat are also excellent sources.
- Remove unprocessed foods.
Cook your meals using vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats.
Clean eating isn’t a fad diet. It’s a common-sense approach to eating for a healthy lifestyle. It’s something everyone can do by choosing a variety of whole, unrefined foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
What are the benefits of clean eating?
Now that you know what clean eating is, you might be wondering what the benefits of eating clean are. Well, there are many. Let’s take a look at a few that can really make a difference to how you feel everyday.
You’ll feel better. It’s simple, really. Eating foods that are healthy and natural will make you feel better. Whole vegetables, fruits and lean proteins balance your energy levels, which leaves you feeling great all day. When you eat clean, you are able to absorb nutrients better and your energy levels skyrocket.
You’ll maintain a healthy weight. Eating clean is the best way to sustain a healthy weight. You lose weight by eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean meats and whole grains.
You will build up your immune system. For a strong immune system, you need nutritious foods. Eating clean provides them. Building your immune system through clean eating allows the body to fight of illnesses more naturally and recover more quickly. Healthy foods also promote cell growth, which in turn makes your skin, hair and nails stronger, shinier and healthier.
Your thinking becomes clearer. Processed and junk food clouds you mind and can make you feel sluggish. On the other hand, eating clean, whole foods high in healthy fats like Omega 3 fatty acids keeps your brain functioning at peak ability. Your brain needs a balance of nutrients like proteins and healthy fats to function properly. Foods like spinach, kale, broccoli, beets, bell peppers and eggplants are rich in high level antioxidants. Prunes, raisins, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes and cherries protect the brain cells. Salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and nuts boost Vitamin E levels.
Boosted energy levels. Clean foods boost energy with foods that slowly release natural sugar. People often turn to caffeine and sugar for a quick energy boost. This type of boost is actually a quick spike in your blood sugar that’s just a quickly followed by a crash. Foods that create a gentle and steady release of sugar include fruit combined with oatmeal or yogurt, cheese and natural crackers, apple slices and peanut butter or cottage cheese with veggies.
You’ll experience better sleep. The vitamins and minerals found in natural foods allow your body to regulate hormonal functions during the day, allowing you to sleep deeper at night. Clean eating foods calm your nervous system and trigger sleep hormones that help you rest better at night.
Are you ready to feel the benefits of eating clean?
Not sure how to fit it into your lifestyle? Read on for ways to incorporate it into a busy lifestyle.
Maybe you’re ready to jump in to clean eating full steam. That’s great. But you might want to give yourself a little time to adjust. It can be a huge change for some people. Keep in mind that most recipes can be adapted to a clean eating plan.
For instance, you can have your pizza, cookies, ice cream and even cake or doughnuts as long as they are made with clean eating ingredients.
Here are a few more tips to go clean.
Limit processed food – this is probably one of the biggest changes in your diet. Processed foods are loaded with hidden sugars, sodium, unhealthy fats and preservatives. Clean foods are whole foods without added ingredients.
Read the labels for fat, salt, and sugar – clean foods are usually naturally low in all of these ingredients.
Don’t drink your calories – reduce alcohol, sugary soft drinks and specialty coffees. Water should be your first choice. Other clean drinks include 100 percent fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.
Eat more vegetables and fruit – add veggies to everything. Spinach can be added to smoothies. Add sweet potatoes to brownies. Add all natural applesauce to cakes and other baked goods instead of oil. Mash cauliflower instead of potatoes. Add shredded carrots to turkey burgers. Sneaking nutrient rich vegetables and fruit into everyday foods is also a great way to get picky eaters (kids) to eat more of veggies and fruit.
Choose whole grains/nix refined grains – choose unrefined over refined foods like brown rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa. Clean sugars include honey, maple syrup, and dehydrated sugar cane juice.
Eat the right portions – your plate should have more fruit and veggies than protein and grains.
Eating clean doesn’t have to be difficult or feel like a science experiment. Common sense is a lot of it. Doing away with anything processed or with added ingredients is the main thing to remember.