What is Clean Eating?
"Clean eating" is constantly mentioned in the health and fitness industry, with many attributing their weight loss and improved health to it. Unlike restrictive fad diets and tedious calorie counting however, a clean eating diet simply involves whole, fresh foods as often as possible. This means avoiding processed, boxed options full of sugar, sodium, and fats and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
With all the food options available today it's understandable that it's not always possible to avoid processed options. However, it's also important to realize that you can enjoy them once in a while and still be healthy. The bottom line is that you are consistent with eating well the rest of the time! It is unhealthier to stress over a rare poor food choice than to enjoy it!
Foods To Avoid When Eating Clean
Simply put, processed foods should be avoided when eating clean. Of course, there are varying levels of processed foods. In general, avoid:
- Boxed desserts, TV dinners, and other packaged ready-to-eat foods. These are filled with preservatives, added sugars, sodium, and saturated fats. Always analyze the nutrition label and ingredients list.
- Refined grains, including white rice, white pasta and white bread. These are stripped of nutrients, primarily fiber, and thus not considered clean.
- Sugary drinks and juices, including soda and juices. Besides the high sugar content, these are also poor in nutrients.
- Adding sugar and salt when cooking.
What Should I Eat When Eating Clean?
Eating clean is all about making the right choices. Follow these guidelines for an idea of what you should:
- Incorporate fresh fruit, vegetables, protein, nuts, eggs, dairy, and whole grains. These are all food groups to choose from when eating clean.
- Buy and eat food in their natural form, not processed. For example, choose an orange or an apple instead of their juices to get the fiber and nutrients that are otherwise lost.
- Use herbs, natural sweeteners, and freshly squeezed citrus juice instead of salt and sugar to enhance flavors in your meals.
- Replace refined grains with whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, barley, and whole wheat bread.
- Cook using healthier methods like baking, steaming, and sauteéing.
- Drink plenty of water.
Sample Clean Eating Meal PlanPlanning a day of clean eating is simple. Use this sample meal plan as a guide:
|Breakfast||Omelet with Fruit||1/2 cup cooked oatmeal|
|1/2 cup skim milk|
|1 teaspoon cinnamon|
|1 chopped apple||214|
|Lunch||Salad with Chicken and Brown Rice||2 cups leafy greens|
|1/2 cup cherry tomatoes|
|1 tablespoon olive oil|
|4 oz grilled chicken|
|1/2 cup brown rice||600|
|Snack||10 baby carrots|
|1/2 cup Greek yogurt dipping sauce||35|
|Dinner||Pasta Primavera||1 cup whole wheat pasta|
|2 cups chopped leafy greens|
|1 cup sautéed vegetable mix (mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, onion, asparagus, etc.)||448|
Health Benefits of Clean Eating
Weight loss is just one of the many benefits of clean eating, among:
- Reduced risk of dangerous health conditions like cancer and diabetes.
- Increased energy
- Improved sleep
- Improved cholesterol and blood sugar.
- Clearer skin