It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, but you might not be sure what clean eating is all about. It’s not another fad diet it’s about eating foods that nourish your body. Weight loss doesn’t have to be the goal. However, you may lose weight when you return to eating healthy whole foods. Here are a few tips to ease the transition.
What Is Clean Eating?
Processed and prepackaged foods are convenient, but they often contain processed sugars and chemicals whose only purpose is to make food look, smell, and taste more enticing. Almost every processed meat, dairy, or snack is dyed a more visually appealing color than its natural color.
Many process foods have less nutritional value than natural alternatives, and some are so low in nutrients that they are little more than empty calories. To eat clean is to shift at least 90 percent of what you eat back to foods that are low or no processed. These are also referred to as “whole foods”, which can be found in any grocery store, you just have to adjust your grocery list. With the right recipes, herbs, and spices clean foods are just as delicious as their processed alternatives—often more flavorful!
How To Clean Up Your Meals
Just like with anything new it will take some time to adjust your meal plan. Many of us grocery shop on autopilot, purchasing our go-to favorites. So, start small, maybe swapping out your processed bread for a whole grain or sprouted grain alternative. Or your processed cereal for healthy granola or oats. Below are a few more ideas.
Read The Labels
Foods that come without labels (such as fresh produce and meat from the deli section) are always clean. To determine if a food is processed, you’ll have to learn to read the label. There are two general rules when reading labels. They aren’t 100 percent, but they are the perfect place to begin.
- If you can’t pronounce an ingredient or don’t know what it is it is likely a processed additive
- If there are more than 5 ingredients it is likely a processed food item
Where it can get a bit tricky is with foods that are minimally processed. For example, many grains require at least a bit of processing for easy consumption. When low-processed, they remain healthy and don’t have the “bad carb” concerns. If they are high processed, they fall into the “bad carb” category. However, many foods that are prepackaged, like much of what you find in the health food aisle, are low processed and can be part of your clean meal plan.
Minimize Processed Sugars
While we are taught to count our calories to lose weight, sugar is often the primary contributing factor to weight gain. Sugar falls into two categories. The first is processed or refined, referring to manmade and added sugars. The second is unprocessed or unrefined sugars, referring to the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and veggies. If your diet is high in processed sugars you are more likely to have internal inflammation. Prolonged internal inflammation can damage your joints, arteries, and organs. It can also contribute to pain, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and a variety of health concerns.
Upgrade Your Water
We think so much about food, but we must not forget water. Depending on where you live, you may only use the water that comes out of your faucet to clean, bathe, and cook—but you may purchase bottled drinking water. While store-bought bottled water may taste better, it may not be the highest quality water available to you. When you purchase pure spring water or artisanal water the nutritional label won’t look much different, but natural waters contain essential trace minerals that we may not be getting from other foods in our diet. Natural water is also alkaline. For a bit more detail on the quality of water watch Episode 2 of Down To Earth on Netflix.
Organically farmed meat, dairy, and produce have been farmed without pesticides, growth hormones, or antibiotics. Just like the crops used to farm Holmes Organics CBD*. So, shop organic when you can. If it’s not in the budget or you can’t find the food you are looking for in an organic option, purchase what is available.
An excellent way to expand your organic options and lower your organic budget is to shop directly from farmer’s markets or join a farm share. Farm shares are most often locally grown fruits and veggies, but you can also find meat and dairy shares. Depending on only during the spring and summer.
Grow Your Own
It doesn’t matter where you live you can grow at least a few fresh items. From a window box herb garden to pots and planters, or a full-on garden. When selecting what to grow consider what you will enjoy eating most. Tomatoes are popular and are easy to grow in either your garden or a planter. Leafy greens, potatoes, beans, peas, onion, garlic, carrots, cucumber, beets, and squash are all easy. For best results buy organic soil for your pots, planters, or raised garden. You can also make or purchase your own organic pesticides.
How To Keep The Flavor When Eating Clean
Clean eating isn’t as restrictive as it may initially sound. You can still purchase flavored foods, you just have to be mindful of where the “flavor” comes from—a natural or organic source? For example, many delis sell lemon pepper marinated chicken. It’s just lemon and pepper, so your good. On that same note, stock up on dried herbs and spices and always keep onion, garlic, and lemons at home. Head online to find new recipes, including new marinades, sauces, and salad dressings. Use shifting to a clean meal plan as an opportunity to try new things, such as new grains, spices, and produce you usually walk right past. Or try cooking things you already enjoy in new ways. This will help to keep meals fun and delicious, which they should be!
Eat With Intention
In addition to eating healthy whole foods, consider the medicinal properties of the food you eat. While many herbs and spices are utilized primarily as seasoning, most have been used for thousands of years as natural remedies. This is why you can find both herbs and spices in capsule form or blended into functional teas from brands like Traditional Medicinal and Yogi. The natural properties of plants remain the primary reason behind the ongoing debate regarding the legalization of marijuana. With the alternative of hemp-derived cannabis, you can now enjoy all the benefits of marijuana without the high in a simple CBD gummy or oil which is legal in all 50 states.
Yes! You Can Still Eat Out
Not to worry if the tips above feel a bit overwhelming as you don’t need to cook from scratch to eat clean. You just have to be a bit more mindful of where you eat. Again, remember the 90 percent rule, as eating out may be when you indulge in your favorite fried, fatty, high-sugar, and processed foods. If you don’t cook and eat out often, you still have plenty of options to choose from. Your local health food store has grab-and-go deli selections and you will be able to find several organic and farm to table restaurants in your area.
Here’s to eating for both function and tantalizing your taste buds!