However, it occurred to me that we never discussed about clean eating in detail. About time.
I don’t know about you, but when I first heard the words ‘Clean Eating’, I was wondering what it was all about. A diet? A lifestyle? Does anyone really know?
First off, I learned that clean eating doesn’t refer to the cleanness of food from a safety standpoint. Washing thoroughly an apple before digging your teeth into it, it’s not clean eating; or better yet, it’s more than that.
Clean eating is, in fact, a term used to identify a way of nourishment (think of it as a lifetime commitment not a short term diet) that focuses on eating whole, natural and unprocessed foods, free of chemicals and other unwanted substances.
As pointed out by Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center “In some ways clean eating is what eating was always about”1.
According to the consensus among nutritionists, there are many benefits to clean eating, including: increased energy, mental clarity, and improved digestion. Weight loss has also been mentioned as one of the positive externalities of clean eating, but it’s not only about that. Clean eating is a broader lifestyle choice that focuses on general health and wellbeing; shedding pound is just a bonus, the icing on the cake.
Do and Don’ts
First step to clean eating is to get rid of chemicals from the diet by removing all processed foods.
The less processed foods are, the more naturally occurring vital nutrients and the fewer harmful ingredients they contain. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient on the label, you probably shouldn’t buy that food and eat it.
As a general rule you should focus on real food; starting with food that comes from trees, bushes, plants or vines. The usual suspects: veggies and fruits.
Whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats may also be included; as well as high welfare animal protein sources (dairy, eggs and meats).
Of course, the definition of clean eating shifts whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or an omnivore. The approaches can be different; Dr. Kazt, for instance, takes a more holistic one “It’s not about banishing any particular type of ingredient...There’s a real danger in placing it on just one ingredient.” Ric Orlando, author of “We Want Clean Food” on the other hand praises for a more local, organic approach to clean eating2.
Neverthelss, what constitutes the bulk of clean eating (i.e., veggies and fruits) is shared across-the-board3. A can of diet soda is off-limits for everybody, the same goes for a overly processed candy bar.
In other words, no matter what your dietary beliefs are, you can build a clean eating regimen using the above general rules and, above all, some common sense.
Find a balance
Clean eating may feel overwhelming at first, and in order to adjust to this new lifestyle it’s better to take baby step, little by little.
Aim to eat clean most of the time and if by chance you find yourself sidetracked, don’t beat yourself up, it takes just a little effort to adjust and get back on the virtuous path.
I, for instance, always go whole wheat pasta over regular pasta or brown rice over white rice. Another example is Olive oil, coconut oil (even real organic butter) are much better than margarine or vegetable shortenings which are, most of the time, the product of chemist laboratory not a farm.
Anyway, as with most activities in life, balance is key; pushing too hard on 100% clean (especially at the beginning) may be “too much too handle”. Take it one day at a time, try to find your balance.
Eat “whole foods” 90% of the time, and eat indulgences in great moderation.
2 Orlando, Ric (2003-10-28), We Want Clean Food, New York