“Clean eating is about choosing the best options that you can most of the time.”
The topic of clean eating is a common buzzword as we take stock of our health, purge our diets, reinvent our fitness routine and make healthy changes. The latest health trend sounds good – clean eating – but what does it really mean and should we all be clean eating for good health?
“Clean eating” is a term that has no official definition, leaving it wide open to interpretation. For many, the basic concept is to eat whole foods that are un- or minimally processed and as close to their natural form as possible.
A great concept in theory, but in reality few can stick to such a stringent dietary pattern in everyday life. Yet the notion of eating cleaner for good health should not be lost. Beginning to make conscious decisions about your food choices to improve your well-being is important. Any change you make to eat less processed food helps to reduce risk of disease, balance essential nutrients, keep your digestive system healthy, maintain a healthy body weight and fuel your activity.
For long-term success, consider a more realistic definition of clean eating – one that includes healthy foods in a way that makes your mind and body better. Clean eating would be about choosing the best options that you can most of the time. Focus on whole foods like fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, lean meat, fish and poultry, low-fat dairy, and whole grains from a variety of food sources.
Meals would be cooked at home limiting processed packages, sodium, excess fat and added sugars. If you can work towards this style of clean eating at your house, then your health will be better for it.
8 Tips for Clean Eating
Yes this is basic (and boring) but it is impossible to eat clean if you don’t know what you are going to buy, cook and eat this week. A meal plan and grocery list based on the plan is the best place to start. For tech savvy folks there are many great apps out there to keep organization at your fingertips.
- Get Label Savvy
Ingredients are listed in descending order. Typically, the cleaner the item, the fewer the ingredients and the more of them you would find at home in your new “clean” cupboard. Limit artificial sweeteners, preservatives and colours as well as processed and refined foods.
- Eat a Rainbow
Fruits and vegetables should be your go to whole foods. Full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this is one group of super foods that should be alongside each meal and snack.
- Beware of Drinks
Fancy coffees, sugar rich smoothies, juices, sweetened beverages, and alcohol should all be watched. If alcohol is part of your clean eating plan, keep within the recommended guidelines – maximum 1 drink/day for women and 2/day for men.
(Note: one drink equals 5 ounces wine, 1½ ounces liquor or 12 ounces beer).
- Remove Packaged Snacks
Most granola bars, cookies, cereals and crackers are high in refined grains and sugar. Consider homemade versions as a healthier alternative or simply open the fridge for a snack between meals – hardboiled eggs, greek yogurt, fruits and vegetables are all clean options to enjoy for better health.
- Cook and Eat at Home
One of the best ways to eat clean is to limit restaurant eating. Pack a cooler for work and family outings.
- Buy Local
The arrival of Spring means your local farmers market is soon to open. Be aware of where your food comes from and shorten the time between farm and table. For those with a green thumb, consider your own vegetable garden or grow kale and lettuce to complement what you buy down the road. Garden’s are a great way for the entire family to learn about these small steps toward cleaner eating for good health.
- Get Moving
Don’t stop at clean eating, enjoy regular activity as part of your new healthy lifestyle.
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