Simply put, clean eating means eating real food. By real food, I mean food that is closest to its natural state – not processed, not packed with preservatives, etc. It's not a fad diet to do for 8 weeks and then go back to eating junk. It's a lifestyle.
“In some ways clean eating is what eating was always about,” said Dr.David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. “Food that’s clean is food that’s for the most part real food and not encumbered with things that compromise health: artificial flavorings, artificial colorings, sugar substitutes,” said Katz. The shorter the ingredient list, the better.
Trust me, you will grow to not even like the idea of going to a fast food restaurant once you start consistently eating clean. Your taste buds will change and learn to love delicious foods like broccoli and asparagus! And your body, your skin, and your digestive system will love you for it.
Why eat clean?
You may be surprised to hear that most of our fitness/health goals can’t ever be reached without clean eating. Step one to being healthy is eating healthy.
As the Gracious Pantry puts it, “You can exercise from the time the rooster crows until the cows come home, but if you make a run through your local drive-through afterwards, you just are not going to get anywhere fast.” Exercise isn’t designed as a punishment for the crummy food you ate. Healthy eating and exercise should go hand in hand!
Here are some more benefits to eating clean:
- Decreased body fat
- Increased lean muscle
- Improved energy
- Improved health and immunity
- Decreased risk of a number of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
- Decreased consumption of unnatural substances, such as pesticides and preservatives
- Extended budget - contrary to popular belief, cooking clean, organic foods instead of going out to eat all the time is actually cheaper, even compared to McDonalds.
- Increased inclination to keep the weight off - unlike a fad diet, this change in lifestyle is sustainable. You could do this for the rest of your life happily.
- Three words: SIX PACK ABS!!! - you're not getting them without this kind of nutrition plan
How to eat clean and healthy
- Eat lots of veggies (especially green things) and fruits, fresh is preferred to frozen and canned
- Drink at least half your body weight in water each day
- Get your protein, unsaturated fats, and complex carbs
- Eliminate chemicals/preservatives from your diet (check the labels)
- Eat whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat, etc.)
- Eat 5-6 meals a day
- Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner, (Snack)
- Pay attention to portion sizes
- Avoid sodas and other sugary drinks –> maybe try out unsweetened green tea!
- Minimize sugar intake (fruits aren’t included in this) as well as salt intake
- Cut down on alcohol
- Alcohol is one of the most common ways to sabotage a diet. As one of the personal trainers at my gym says, “Our bodies were not designed to drink alcohol. Period.”
Clean eating resources
- He and She Eat Clean
- The Gracious Pantry
- Clean Eating Magazine
- What the Heck is Clean Eating – ABC News
- Shape Magazine’s 7-Day Clean Eating Challenge
- Why Clean Eating Works