“Eating clean is about being empowered with knowledge, making the best choices that we can, going easy on ourselves, and doing the best that we can do from day to day,” according to Terry Walters.
The basis of clean eating is consuming primarily whole, unprocessed food. The official “Clean Eating” movement banned processed food for moral reasons, not health reasons. The movement has evolved, and clean eating is now very individual. However, all followers of this approach agree that processed foods are not included. Eating clean revolves around maintaining a balanced and personalized diet of fresh, unprocessed food including fruits, vegetables, grains, healthy fats, and some meats, fish, and dairy.
So, why try eating clean? Besides the moral and mental boost the words evoke, many are seeking clearer skin, weight loss, increased energy, stronger hair and nails, improved mental health, and better sleep. Rather than simply going on diets, these individuals are often making sustainable lifestyle shifts when they choose to eat clean.
5 Ways to Start Eating Clean
1| Keep it whole foods.
Stick to whole foods – those that occur in nature and don’t go through a lab or another manufacturing unit. Examples include fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed and free-range meat, dairy, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
2| Get in the kitchen.
I can’t say this enough…. When you cook for yourself, you’re almost guaranteed to up the nutritional value and reduce calories. Restaurant food is more processed, less fresh, and often over-seasoned (salt).
3| Eliminate refined sugar and carbohydrates.
You’ll want to remove white foods (like white sugar and white our) from your diet if you’re aiming to eat clean. This includes all standard desserts containing white sugar as well as white pasta, rice, bread, and pastries.
4| Maintain blood sugar.
Keeping your blood sugar stable greatly contributes to healthy food choices. When you wait too long between meals or eat processed foods that spike blood sugar – leading to a crash in energy – you’re more likely to reach for sugar, fat, or caffeine to keep your energy up. If you continue this cycle, you’ll always feel irritable and exhausted. If you ensure you eat whole foods every 3–4 hours, your blood sugar and mentality will remain stable.
5| Remember the magic combination of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates.
You should aim to get a serving from each group at every meal. This will create optimal blood sugar levels and stave off your cravings and brain fog. Some examples of great protein sources include grass-fed meat, fish, tempeh, and tofu. Great fat options are avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. When reaching for complex carbs, try quinoa, brown rice, or sweet potatoes.
Quality Foods over Quantity of Food
The clean eating approach emphasizes quality over quantity. Not all calories are equal. When you stick to whole foods, you’re much more likely to keep your caloric intake at an appropriate level for your body and maintain a healthy weight. Whole foods actually fill you up and fuel you, whereas empty calories, like those found in soda and chips, fill a mental craving, but don’t physically fill you up. Your mindset will improve when you switch to whole foods since it’s hard to feel guilty after filling up on wholesome nutrients. On another note, whole foods also regulate cholesterol levels and ward off cancer, dementia, and countless of other conditions. The high fiber content of fruits, vegetables, and grains keeps the digestive system in tip-top shape.
Sure, you could pop vitamins in pill form all day, but nutrients are much more available to you – and more readily absorbed – when consumed through food.
The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. If you take care of yourself by feeding yourself nutrient dense foods, you’re much more likely to exercise, have stress management/meditation, take baths, get a massages, and other techniques that make your life rich and vibrant. When you feel great, you’re able to move through your days with joy and ease, creating and nurturing supportive relationships and a career you love.
Use the sample clean menu below to inspire you to experiment with clean eating.
Keep in mind, the more organic items you choose, the better. However, if organic isn’t readily available, choosing conventional is still a better choice than processed junk food options.
- Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal with fresh fruit, chia seed, and pure maple syrup
- Lunch: Brown rice salad with Spinach, grilled tofu, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and basil
- Snack: Fresh green juice or smoothie, whole grain bread with nut butter and sliced apple
- Dinner: Baked lemon salmon, Baked sweet potato topped with scallions, salt and pepper, kale sautéed with onion and garlic
- Dessert: 1oz. Dark chocolate