By now you’ve probably heard the phrase “clean eating”, but do you know what it actually is or how to go about using it as a way of eating?
Eating clean isn’t really a new way of eating. In fact, it’s eating in a way that our ancestors did by eating all natural whole foods. Eating clean is about eating the best and healthiest options in all the food groups while eliminating processed, sugary and fatty fried foods. The clean eating way of eating means embracing fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as healthy proteins and fats.
Clean Eating to Lose Weight
Eating clean isn’t necessarily a diet. It’s more a way of eating. But, by eating this way, you do lose weight and become healthier.
Eating clean is more than eating fruits, vegetables and salads. It’s about eating food that is whole and in its most natural state. Improve your health the right way.
The average American diet has been filled with processed foods, sugary sweets and fried fatty foods for many years. It’s led to a nation of people that are overweight, diabetic and have heart disease.
According to Fitness.gov (Source: http://www.fitness.gov/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/), the typical American diet exceeds the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars, refined grains, sodium, and saturated fat.
- Americans eat less than the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, dairy products, and oils.
- About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet.
- Reducing the sodium Americans eat by 1,200mg per day on could save up to $20 billion a year in medical costs.
Healthy eating can reduce the risk of chronic illness and disease including the three leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer and stroke.
- 37 percent of Americans have cardiovascular disease.
- 34 percent of U.S. adults have hypertension, which is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease.
- 36 percent of American adults have prehypertension — blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not in the hypertension range yet.
- 41 percent of the population will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
And the World Health Organization states that at least 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, and up to 40 percent of cancer could be prevented if people ate better, engaged in more physical activity and quit using tobacco.
That’s where clean eating comes in. Eating foods that are natural, unprocessed and whole provides the nutrients you need, without adding extra sugar, sodium or unhealthy fats. Learn what clean eating is and its benefits and you. There are tips for easing into a clean eating lifestyle as well as recipes for getting you started. Great ideas for everyday lunches.
What Is Clean Eating?
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. Today, clean eating or eating clean 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. Basically, it means to eat whole foods. So instead of eating a banana nut muffin, eat a banana and nuts instead. It means using foods that have only all natural ingredients.
One way to replace those processed foods is to make homemade versions. Everything from energy bars to salad dressings can be created with whole natural ingredients at home. Clean eating recipes can be found for just about everything, from five-ingredient ice cream to homemade baby food and pickled veggies.
Whole natural foods provide the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed for the body to function at its best. 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.
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.
Here are the 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. Read labels and ingredient lists.
- No alcohol.
- Only healthy sources of fats. Fats olive oil, coconut oil and nut oils are perfect. Fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fat are good sources.
- Lots of 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. These foods can boost your metabolism.
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.
- 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.
- Healthy foods promote cell growth, which in turn makes your skin, hair and nails stronger, shinier and healthier.
- 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.
- 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.
- Boost 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.
Incorporating into a Busy Lifestyle
We all know that our lifestyles are busy. Who has time to make everything you eat from scratch every day? I mean, with work and family obligations, your time is already filled. So how can you incorporate clean eating into it? Here are some tips to help you out.
Begin by making the commitment. Make a menu plan.
Then to make it easier every day, you need to plan out your meals for the week. This is where a weekly or monthly meal plan comes in handy. A meal plan needs to include all meals as well as any snacks you plan to have during a day.
Take one day a week to create a month’s worth of meals. Get out your cookbooks and online recipes to put together your favorite meals. Once you’ve done this for a month or two, it’ll get easier. You can simply interchange the menus you’ve already created with a few different meals.
Include some protein, healthy carbohydrate and fat at every meal. Protein is an important muscle builder that helps curb your appetite. Here are 7 delicious low sugar snack ideas.
Use a Shopping List – And Stick To It!
Next you’ll need to stock your pantry and fridge. This is where you need a master shopping list.
This means adding lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats such as chicken breasts and fish to your fridge.
Keep frozen fruits and vegetables that are all natural, meaning they haven’t been packed in added sugar or salt on hand. It’s a good idea to have clean eating foods on hand in your freezer for those extra busy times when you don’t have time to run to the store for fresh foods.
Take advantage of a local butcher. A local butcher has fresh meats on display so you know exactly what you’re getting. An even better idea is to get to know your local farmers through the farmer’s market. They’re never reluctant to share with you how they grow and feed their animals.
When you’re just starting out with clean eating, you may be intimidated on where to start. A good rule is to shop the perimeter of the store.