In the past few years, we’ve been talking a lot about different eating styles, and debating which ones are best. And while there is no definitive answer, because we are all different and need different things, there are several that rose to the top, simply as diets that are probably healthier than the way you are eating right now. One of those is clean eating, which simply stands for eating less processed, and more natural foods. Sounds simple, right? And miraculously, it actually is. It supports eating fresh, minimally processed and as organic as possible. Here’s how you can join the fun.
Fresh produce > anything else
One of the key features of clean eating is to get in as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you can. Results show that there is an alarming number of people who aren’t eating the daily recommended amount of fruit and veg, so it’s about time that changed. Go to your local farmer’s market and stock up on organic produce that you can consume with minimal – or even better, without any – thermal processing, because food is richest in nutrients when consumed perfectly fresh. Make your breakfast and snacks fruity, and pack your lunches and dinners with fresh salads, hearty dishes and plenty of greens. You will also be doing yourself, and the planet, a favor by cutting back on meat. You don’t have to be vegan to eat clean, but not automatically thinking that a meal isn’t a meal if it doesn’t contain any meat will go a long way. By substituting meat with plant-based foods, you will up the intake of fiber, and improve your digestion as well as healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. When you are turning to meat, try to make sure it is from animals that are eating just as clean as you are trying to: grass fed, wild caught and similar labels will put you on the right track.
Less processed foods
Go to your kitchen and grab a couple of cans, cartons and boxes that contain the produce you consume every day. Look at the labels, and ask yourself do you really know what those ingredients are. Are you aware of what you are eating? If the labels have under five ingredients listed, or if you know what all of the ingredients are, then you are already eating pretty clean, but the amount of ingredients is just one part, and a lot of nutritious value is lost during the cooking and conservation process. The sad truth is that most of our beloved snacks and comfort foods are sodium-packed and processed into oblivion, making them far from clean. But that doesn’t mean you have to only stick to tasteless rice crackers (which, by the way, aren’t that clean at all). You have plenty of options for delicious, clean snacks, and if you are planning a get-together and want to keep the food clean, or if you are struggling to prepare clean food for yourself, there are amazing catering companies that offer programs like smoothie packages, with some amazing flavor combination you will get hooked on. Sticking to a clean eating plan is easy if you have delicious food available that tastes much better than the processed stuff you’ve probably been eating, which you will realize over time. I mean, who wouldn’t love a mango, passion fruit, mint and coconut milk smoothie for breakfast?
Opt for whole grain
One of the most processed foods we eat are grains: bread, pasta and all of our favorite carbs are simply not that great for us, and are all-too-often empty calories. You can easily spot a whole grain by looking for something that looks like it’s just been harvested. Oats, quinoa, wild rice and similar grains are good examples. And if it’s hard to quit the toast and carbonara, look for whole grain pasta and bread, making sure you check the labels, with “whole grains” being the first ingredient listed, and not too many ingredients besides that. Switching to whole grains will get you more fiber and antioxidants, and it will also help you lose excess weight and keep it off long-term.
Eating clean isn’t at all hard and doesn’t demand that you give up on all the things you love. It is simply turning back to nature, and tuning our taste buds to foods that aren’t overly processed and don’t give us just empty calories. With a clean eating plan, you will feel more energetic, have better digestion and be a bigger contributor to saving the environment.