I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Clean Eating"...but what does it really mean?
I asked myself that quite often! Get ready ... here are all of the basics.
I’ve been passionate about fitness and nutrition for most of my adult life. Magazines and books would take up much of my free time, and I was always looking for new recipes and ways to eat healthy. I thought I was doing a pretty good job, for the most part. ;)
At the end of one of my in-home fitness DVD’s, the trainer would say every time “remember to stay hydrated and eat clean.” I always walked away from that thinking “that’s great, but what does it actually mean?” I could guess about the basics of eating healthy, but I always wondered what the idea of “clean eating” really meant.
As I did more reading, research and became involved in Clean Eating online groups, I learned that the foundation includes things I never really paid attention to.
I can’t imagine I am the only person who has ever wondered what ‘Clean Eating’ really means. This post will outline the basic ideas, things to watch for when choosing foods, and how to know if you are making good choices.
Over the next few weeks, I will also cover additional topics, including:
How to Start Eating Clean – without overhauling your entire diet all at once.
How your Nutrition affects your body, mind and emotional well-being
But first, here are the general ideas of Clean Eating:
Eat less CRAP:
C – Carbonated beverages
R – Refined Sugars
A – Artificial sweeteners and colors
P – Processed Foods
Eat more FOOD:
F – Fruits and Veggies
O – Organic, Lean Protein
O – Omega-3 Fatty Acids
D- Drink Water
So basically, many of the boxed foods you find in your pantry such as crackers, cookies, chips, and even some cereals are highly-processed foods that are full of refined sugars, salt, preservatives and artificial sweeteners. These are the types of foods that we should stay away from. They provide little-to-no nutritional value – our bodies don’t recognize them as real food, so we don’t get any nutritional benefits from them like we would from real food.
Before learning this, I always eat things like granola bars and crackers, thinking they were healthy. Some of them are, but some of them definitely are not.
Now what? Should I throw away everything in my pantry?
The extent that you follow this can range from the extreme of “nothing in a box” to more moderate, and reading ingredient labels. I personally read labels and try to choose only items that have a small ingredient list of things I can pronounce and recognize. For example, the ingredients on a box of Orginial Triscuit crackers includes: whole grain wheat, vegetable oil (soybean or canola oil), sea salt. Three things – that’s it. These are all things I am familiar with and I know what I am putting into my body. I use that as a general guideline.
If you read the ingredients of many other foods, there are tons of things listed that are foreign to me. What in the world are they? Kind of scary, huh?
So, what should we eat?
“Real Food” generally means:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables – anything in the produce section of the grocery store
- Lean proteins, such as meats, Greek yogurt (again, read the labels and look at the ingredients and sugar content), cottage cheese, milk, block cheese (not the processed cheese slices)
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, chia seeds, nuts and oils
- Water! It’s not really a food, but we should try to drink at least half of our weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, then you should drink at least 75 oz of water per day.
- Complex carbohydrates and whole grains – such as quinoa, brown rice, sprouted-grain bread, whole wheat pasta – basically, carbs that aren’t full of processed white flour.
I hope this gave you a good overview of the basics of clean eating!
If you’re looking for more specific steps to get started, watch for another post next week that will show you simple steps you can take today to get started eating clean – and learn how you can still stick to your goals without overhauling your entire diet all at once.
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