Eating clean is about nourishing yourself with food grown from the earth in harmony with the seasons and environment. It’s also minimally processed for maximum nutrition.
For every truth we know about nutrition, another truth is discovered every day. So how do we know what we should be putting on our plates or not? What is clean or isn’t?
Another problem with getting people to understand what clean eating is that everyone seems to have a different definition of what “CLEAN” actually means. But here I will try to clear this up for you.
When practicing clean eating, yes, you eat healthy most of the time, but that doesn’t mean 100% strict. If you really want a sweet treat that isn’t part of the clean eating idea, then go for it! That doesn’t mean you fell off the wagon. There’s this strange fact, where people get obsessed with eating clean, that becomes unhealthy, and is truly unnecessary. The key to clean eating is intending to eat healthy most of the time, while still being flexible.
Set yourself for success. Plan in advance. Make a shopping list and pick one new clean recipe to try each week. Each time you make a new recipe you’ll likely purchase one or two new ingredients that will be new to you. This is a good way to make a slow and successful transition to clean foods that fit your taste and health. Focus on bringing in healthy new foods and over time, the unhealthy foods that no longer serve you will be reduced. Keep a rotating supply of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds in mason jars so that you’ll be ready to make a variety of healthy meals and menus.
What to avoid
Although these items are convenient, you pay for that convenience with your health, as they are usually high in chemical additives, trans-fats, too much salt and tons of refined sugars. Processed foods usually have loads of sugar, but you should also stay away from items using artificial sweeteners, sodium, and preservatives that make them quite addicting.
Keep in mind not all processed foods are equal. They range from minimally processed items like the bag of spinach you get at the grocery store, to heavily processed foods like the frozen fish sticks or chicken nuggets in the back of the freezer. The closer your foods are to the minimally-processed side, the closer you are to eating clean.
Most Refined Foods
This means refined white flour, sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, trans-fats etc. Also, be careful not to drink your calories. Soda is loaded with sugar, diet soda is loaded with artificial sweeteners and watch the fruit juices you pick as they are often loaded with refined sugar, as well as natural sugars. There is far more than what meets the eye as far as additives to food and water go. These added food ingredients are not necessarily listed on the product nutrition chart, especially when it comes to things like GMO.
Avoid GMO Foods as Much as Possible
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants & animals. These experimental combinations created in laboratories involving mixing genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. Most other nations do not consider GMOs to be safe, and more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and in all of the countries in the Europe there are restrictions or bans on production & sale of GMOs.
In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them, and profit from their sale. Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the foods they purchase contain GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice. So, when purchasing prepackaged foods, look for the Non-GMO seal.
You can also avoid GMOs by consuming organically certified produce which is required to be GMO-free, or by following and buying from the list of companies below who choose to remain GMO-free! By choosing to support companies who do not use GMOs, you are letting Monsanto know that you will NOT buy their products.
Take a note
Access to affordable clean food and fresh produce can vary depending on where you live. Here are some tips to help you be successful:
Learn what your local farms grow and produce. Talking to them will empower you with more educated and healthy choices.
There is nothing like a farmer’s market for the incredible sense of community, access to farmers and locally grown clean food.
Choose High-Quality Meats
Meat eaters, look to get your meat from grass–fed animals as much as possible. One budget-friendly idea is to have fewer, but higher quality meat-eating days.
Include Healthy Fats
Healthy Fats don’t make you fat, they’re actually good for you, and this includes some healthy high-quality saturated fats. You can get these healthy fats from fish (white tuna, salmon, anchovies, and sardines), nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, pecans as well as chia, flax & hemp seeds), avocados, eggs, oils (extra virgin, grass-fed butter, olive oil, virgin coconut oil), dairy products and grass-fed beef.
Veggies, Veggies & Veggies
Get as many vegetables as you can into your meals. Choose cruciferous, dark leafy greens, even certain potatoes. The idea is to make sure you have a variety of veggies on your plate and include as many colors of the rainbow as you can get.
Clean Eating for Beginners
• Start slow and within your budget. Don’t worry about drastic changes or being “perfect.”
• Organic foods are popular among clean eaters, but if you can’t afford them, just do the best you can. Here’s how to save money on organic food.
• Teach yourself to properly read labels. Focus on the ingredient list. Select foods with fewer ingredients—and ingredients that you recognize as real food.
• Understand that you will make mistakes. The important thing is not giving up.
• Don’t stress over minor things. Keep the bigger concepts in mind and always work to improve. It’s about choosing the healthiest choice, not depriving yourself.
• If you have something that doesn’t mean your definition of “clean,” don’t throw in the towel. Make your next meal clean. That’s the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change.
If you stick to the above guidelines most of the time, you’ll be well on your way to a clean eating lifestyle, weight loss, and optimal health. Hope you find your way of eating clean and living well!