Clean eating is a concept where you only eat food the way nature delivered it. That means staying away from all refined and processed foods and consuming only what is the closest to food in its whole, natural form. It is not a diet program but a lifestyle approach to food and the way it is prepared.
Clean eating works by the following goals in mind:
- Decreasing inflammation
- Lowering acidity and alkalizing the body
- Regulating blood glucose levels
- Removing toxins and artificial ingredients
- Providing optimum nutrients
The basic principles of eating clean revolve mainly around plant-based, fresh foods that have been paired with suitable servings of protein and healthy fats. Some people may equate clean eating with eating plant based foods alone, eliminating animal foods, but the idea is more about creating a balance between clean protein sources, healthy fats and low glycemic carbohydrates.
How to start eating clean
Follow these simple tips to start eating clean without compromising the quality of food you eat:
- Load up on produce
Including more fruits and vegetables into the diet is the first step. This ensures adequate nutrient provision and significantly reduces the risk for a number of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Fiber from fresh produce also aids digestive health and may even reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases.
- Add in whole grains
The cleanest whole grains include varieties that have been minimally processed and resemble their just harvested state. Grains are fiber and nutrient filled foods that provide satiety for longer periods of time.
- Eat less meat
Reducing the amount of meat consumption is recommended since too much meat can raise blood pressure and elevate the risk of heart disease. Clean eating also means cutting down on processed meats or even have a meatless day once a week.
- Eliminate processed foods
Just as you know what to include when eating clean, you also need to know what to eliminate. But since so much food is processed now, it can be hard to eliminate all of it. Instead, steer clear of foods with lots of sugar, salt, hydrogenated oils and others with a long list of unrecognizable ingredients.
- Eat several small meals
Divide your quota of daily food over the day by having smaller, more frequent meals instead of three big ones. Eating this way will prevent you from skipping meals as well as from overeating.
- Don’t drink your calories
High calorie drinks like coffees and soft drinks contain a lot of calories. While eating clean, keep water as your first option to stay hydrated without the need of relying on other sweetened drinks.
- Cook your own meals
Perhaps the best way to ensure that you are getting the most out of your clean eating experience is to prepare your meals personally. While this demands time and effort, it is also knowing first hand that you have avoided using processed and refined versions of foods and have stuck with real and whole foods.