Are you eating clean? Do you want to eat cleaner? Maybe you want to learn to eat cleaner, but you are not sure where to start? This Clean Eating 101 blog post is just for you!
I've got a lot to say on this matter, but I'm going to keep it simple and straight forward. In this post I am going to talk about why we want to eat clean in the first place. It sounds good, right? But what are the actual benefits of cleaning up our eating? Secondly, I'll cover the basics of clean eating so that you have a clear understanding of what it means & what kind changes you would like to make.
Next week, I'll publish part 2 of Clean Eating 101 where I'll talk about practical ways you can incorporate more clean eating into your diet. What are the action steps you can take to really create change? Be sure to check back next week!
WHY EAT CLEAN?
There is hundreds of reasons, but here is just a quick dozen for you to ponder:
1. You are what you eat. Literally. The nourishment you put into your body is like the building blocks for your cells! These cells that make up your body is what perform all of the amazing functions that you want your body to be able to successfully manage!
2. Giving your body the nutrition that it needs to function properly gives it the ability to heal itself, be free of disease, and feel good.
3. It keeps you feeling more satisfied & nourished. If you are giving your body the proper nutrition of healthy whole foods, you are less likely to over eat and/or want to reach for junk foods.
4. Helps to maintain your blood sugar. Maintaining your blood sugar affects how you feel from moment to moment! Are you familiar with the term "hangry"? I'm sure you can find it in the urban dictionary, but people use this term to describe their mood when they feel angry & hungry. "Hangry" is generally a result of your blood sugar dropping.
5. Makes it much easier to loose and maintain a healthy weight. Eliminating processed foods and sugary drinks can go a long way here.
6. Can cause clear skin! Remember, your skin issues have a lot more to do with what you put on the inside, than what you put on the outside. Your new skin cells are created from the inside, and having healthy looking skin starts with great nutrition & clean eating!
7. Can cause improved energy levels. We all want to have great energy right? Nourish your body with the right foods, and you will have plenty!
8. Can cause improved mood. Feeding your body good, clean nutrition helps you to feel better, gives your brain cells what they need, and can also help to balance hormones which greatly affects mood.
9. Can cause reduction of headaches. For many people, the added chemicals and preservatives in processed foods can be the source of nuisances like headaches. Speaking from my own experience, I had debilitating migraines from the time I was 6 years old into my early 20's. The cleaner my eating got, the less I had them. At age 39, I honestly don't remember the last time I had a migraine. I also know someone that gets a migraine if she ingests anything with red food dye. If you struggle with headaches or migraines....eating cleaner could help!
10. Can help keep you regular. Our health starts in our gut, and healthy, daily, bowel movements are so important. It's how our body gets rid of waste! Not properly eliminating can cause a whole slew of health concerns. Eating lots of whole clean foods with good fiber content helps you to keep much more regular, which supports your health and level of comfort greatly.
11. It positively affects the environment. We all want to do our part to keep the planet that supports us healthy right? Supporting clean, organic farming practices, and less processed foods and factory farmed animal products can go a long way in this.
12. The ripple effect! If you are eating good & feeling good, you are more likely to take care of yourself in other ways, and create a feeling of wellness will spill into other areas of your life! The ripple effect also spreads out to your family & community as you set an example of healthy eating for all of those around you!
Now, let's talk about what it really means to 'eat clean'? If you google 'clean eating' you will get endless results to read. I've created a simple list here for you of my 9 top ideas to keep in mind when you are trying to eat cleaner.
BASICS OF CLEAN EATING
1. EAT WHOLE FOODS
- Think about eating as close to the source as possible.
- Maximum nutrition when it is closest to the source - fresh & local is best.
- Some processing is okay. An example would be oats, you can’t just eat the oat plant & digest it.
- Try to eat a rainbow of colors! Eating a rainbow means that you are nourishing your body with a rainbow of different phytonutrients.
- Whole foods fill you up and fuel you, unlike empty calories.
- High fiber content keeps your digestive system in tip top shape, which is essential for optimal health & wellness.
2. AVOID PROCESSED FOOD
- Read labels, if you can’t pronounce or don’t know the source, then skip it.
- Try to imagine how the ingredient grows as you read the label. If you can't, reconsider.
- Ignore the health claims on packaged foods such as natural, low fat, heart healthy…. be suspicious of these. Remember that it is It’s marketing, and doesn't mean that product is healthy. It is up to you to read the label, and learn what you want to put in your body, and what is better to skip.
3. AVOID REFINED SUGARS
- Avoid white processed foods, white sugar, white flour, white bread, pastries.
- Refined sugars provide nothing but empty calories, not beneficial to our health and very addictive.
- Eat fruit & sweet root vegetables to cut sweet cravings.
- When you want a treat, use natural, more gentle sweeteners such as stevia, honey, & maple syrup.
4. COOK FROM SCRATCH
- Learn to cook from whole ingredients, rather than from a box or package. It really can be simple and quick with a little experience.
- Cook once & eat twice (or more!). Always make enough of something to pack lunches the next day, eat for dinner the next night, or freeze some extra portions. Save yourself time while eating great!
- Use herbs, spices, & simple condiments to season already really good tasting whole foods.
5. ORGANIC & NON-GMO
- Pesticides have been linked to cancer & a plethora of disease and health issues.
- Pesticides are used to destroy the life of insects. What do you think they do to your body?
- GMO's have not been tested for safety in humans over a long period of time. We are like lab rats eating the GMO food not really knowing what kind of real health repercussions we will be dealing with long term. Many studies are proving that they are harmful to us in a plethora of ways. Avoid the risks!
- Yes, organic more expensive. Your health is worth it. Your quality of life is worth it. Medical expenses cost more.
- Reduce your exposure to chemicals.
- The environmental benefits are huge to supporting organic!
6. QUALITY MEAT & DAIRY
- Avoid factory farmed, growth hormones, & antibiotics. Factory farming has some terrible practices in the treatment of animals, and remember that if you are consuming the meat and daily products from factory farms, you are also eating what they were given...tons of antibiotics, and hormones, as well as poor quality, GMO feed.
- Organic is better, again limiting exposure to chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics.
- Grass fed beef and dairy is best. A cows traditional diet is grass, not grain/feed. When fed natural diet of grass, the meat and dairy have totally different nutritional content, including healthier fats vs. unhealthy fats.
- Keep portions small. Americans have a tendency to eat much larger portions of meat and dairy than needed. Always shoot for the largest portion on your plate being vegetables, and keep your meat & dairy portions small.
7. MAGIC COMBO OF PROTEIN, FAT, & COMPLEX CARBS
- Eating these 3 together from whole foods at every meal will create optimum blood sugar levels that are able to stay level for longer, keep you satisfied longer, and stave off cravings & brain fog.
- Great protein sources are beans, nuts, seeds, grass fed & free range meats, fish.
- Great sources of healthy fats are avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts & seeds.
- Great sources of complex carbs are quinoa, brown rice, or sweet potatoes.
8. MAINTAIN BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL
- Keeping your blood sugar level = making good food choices.
- When you wait too long between meals, or eat processed foods that can spike your blood sugar and then send it crashing, we are more likely to reach for sugar, junk food, or caffeine to keep energy up. This can cause a cycle of feeling irritable and tired.
- Eat whole foods every 3- 4 hours to maintain blood sugar level and mentality.
9. PLANT BASED DIET
- No matter the nutritional theory or diet plan out there, they all agree on one thing: A plant based diet is where it is at!
- Micheal Pollan, a popular author who has studied and written a lot on food said that everything he's learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Words to live by, if you ask me.
So, we have talked about why you want to eat clean, and we've talked about what it means to eat clean. Would you like some practical advice of how to make is happen? How to make the shift? Next week I'm going to share with you a list of practical suggestions in how to you can start to incorporate the practice of eating cleaner into your life. In the end it's about taking action and creating real change, right?
Be sure to check back next week for part 2 of Clean Eating 101!
Wishing you Wellness!