First, I would like to thank Danica, The Clean Eating Geek, for sharing her motivating story with us yesterday. I cannot wait to have her come back and share more with us!
What is Clean Eating? Well, sadly there is not a definite definition for “clean eating”. If you go to Wikipedia and type in “clean eating” you will get nothing. I find it sad that there is not a direct definition of clean eating, because clean eating isn’t something new. Our grandparents and great-grandparents were “clean eaters”, because processed foods were not around yet (well at least my grandparents were, and I know I’m dating myself here) My favorite definition of clean eating comes from Clean Eating Magazine, the soul of clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. It is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation, leading to an improved life – one meal at a time. Since there still isn’t a concrete definition out there, I’m going to tell you what I think clean eating is from the research I have done. Also, I would like to point out that I’m not a dietitian. I’m just a gal who has a passion for healthy eating.
When someone makes the choice to eat “clean” they are choosing to eliminate all processed foods and extra additives from their diet. Basically, you are choosing to eat whole, unrefined foods. Now, I would like to point out that our family eats clean about 85-90% of the time…A girl has to have her chocolate cake (made with all natural ingredients)! For my family, I like us to have foods that come from nature. That means anything that can be made from what nature grows and animals provide….no chemicals, additives, or crazy ingredients I cannot pronounce the names of.
First off, eating clean is a very easy thing to do. All you are doing is cooking meals made with real food! This is a bit more time consuming, since you are not opening a box, a can, or a prepared frozen meal. However, the benefits of eating clean are worth those extra minutes in the kitchen! The form of breast cancer I had was brought about from changes in my hormones from the chemicals in food, so I can honestly say there are major payoffs in eating clean. Here are some examples of the benefits:
- Lose Weight and Maintain a Healthy Weight
- Increased Energy
- Healthy Skin and Hair
- Not Prone to Illnesses and Bad Health
- Sleep Better
Here are some basics of clean eating (I have put together a clean eating list for your pantry bottom of this post). These are the types of foods you want to eat:
- Eating lots of fruits and vegetables: They are from nature (except for the altered ones, and they are in every grocery store)
- Eating whole grains: These are grains that have not been broken down or “refined”. Look for the word “unrefined” in the ingredients section of your food item and flours. If it says “refined”/”enriched”, put it back. Some examples are: 100% whole wheat products and brown rice.
- Lean proteins – Eat lean proteins that come from the butcher, you have prepared yourself, or you know the meat has not been altered. If you are buying ground turkey, make sure it is ground turkey breast!
- Unprocessed Dairy Items
- Cheese seems to still be debatable among “clean eating” experts. Some say no cheese at all, and others say unprocessed cheeses. I’ll let you decide for yourself. As for me, I always have organic butter and unprocessed cheeses in my fridge.
- READ THE INGREDIENTS!! The fewer the ingredients the better the item is for you. Also, if you cannot pronounce what the ingredient is, DO NOT BUY IT. Basically, if nature did not create the ingredient do not eat it.
What to Avoid:
- Avoid ALL processed and/or refined foods (sugar, baked goods, candies, white flour, white rice, etc)
- Avoid saturated and trans fats
- Avoid sodas, high calorie juices and other drinks that give your body no nutritional value and lots of unnecessary (unwanted) calories
- Avoid high calorie, non nutritious foods (i.e. junk food)
- Avoid all “unnatural” ingredients
As I mentioned above, “clean eating” is not a new, it has been around for a long time, and I suggest you give it a try! Also, I would like to note that “Clean Eating” is not the same as the “Paleo Diet.” (which has a definition on Wikipedia)