Clean Eating – What Is It, How To Eat Clean, Benefits, And Side Effects
The working principle of clean eating is that eating natural, whole foods and avoiding processed ones can help improve your overall health. But, many health experts are skeptical about the big claims of clean eating because this might be just another fad. Read on to know all about clean eating and if it is worth trying. Let’s begin!
What Is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is a simple diet strategy of eating nutritious and whole foods and avoiding processed foods. Clean eating is not just a diet. It is also a way of living.
You will consume foods in their natural state, devoid of chemicals, and loaded with nutrients – like fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. And you will cut out processed or refined grains, foods with preservatives and additives, salty and sugary foods, and unhealthy fats and proteins.
Practice this eating habit regularly and cleanse your system. It will have a positive effect on your body and mind. Let’s take a look at the benefits of clean eating.
Clean Eating Benefits
Here’s why you should practice eating clean:
- Strengthen your immunity.
- Improve your gut function.
- Alleviate constipation.
- Improve the health of your skin, hair, and nails.
- Weight loss.
- You will feel revived and energetic.
- Your mind will be calm.
- No bloating.
- You will sleep better.
- Your mental stress levels will reduce.
- You will be proactive at whatever you do.
- Reduced risk of various lifestyle-related diseases.
So, you see, there are many reasons to eat clean. But, where do you start, and how do you go about it? Well, I have listed 10 clean eating strategies to help you out. Take a look.
10 Clean Eating Strategies That Work
1. Consume Fruits And Veggies
The WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommend consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Consuming fruits and veggies has also been associated with reduced weight and fewer health problems.
So, the first step to take, if you want to eat clean, is to start consuming at least 5 servings of assorted veggies and 3 servings of 3 different fruits per day.
2. Consume Unprocessed Whole Grains
According to the American Association of Cereal Chemists International and the FDA, whole grains are “intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grain whose principal components, the starchy endosperm, germ, and bran, are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain.” But “during the refining of whole grains into white flour, the outer bran and inner germ layers are removed and the remaining endosperm is processed into flour. Thus, compared with refined grains, whole grains are inherently richer in dietary fiber, containing ∼80% more dietary fiber than refined grains.”
Hence, it is best to consume nutritious, unprocessed whole grains as they help to lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer and aid weight loss.
Consume 3 servings (1 serving = 16 g) of whole grains per day. Include oats, wheat, barley, red rice, quinoa, brown rice, black rice, and corn in your diet.
3. Consume Lean Protein
Lean proteins like wild-caught fish, skinless chicken breast, lean cuts of grass-fed pork and beef, mushrooms, free-range eggs, edamame, and lentils are ideal.
Proteins are the building blocks, and you must consume a serving of protein with every meal. Also, proteins from animal and plant sources will prevent muscle loss.
4. Avoid All Kinds Of Processed Foods
Processed foods like sausage, salami, frozen foods, instant noodles, and ready-to-eat foods are a strict no-no. You should also avoid processed foods like packaged milk, baby spinach, chopped veggies, readymade flatbreads/pita bread, yogurt, cheese, and whole wheat pasta.
Most processed foods are low in nutrients and loaded with chemicals and preservatives. And since the goal of clean eating is to stay as close to Nature as possible, you must give up all the packaged junks in “healthy food” disguise.
5. Include Healthy Fats
Healthy fats like nuts, avocado, flax seeds, melon seeds, and sunflower seeds are great sources of healthy fats. You may also include homemade nut butter and virgin olive oil and rice bran oil for cooking.
Healthy fats are mostly unsaturated fats that help reduce inflammation in the body. And that, in turn, helps reduce inflammation-induced obesity.
6. Limit Added Sugar Consumption
Limiting added sugar in various processed and packaged foods will take care of many health issues like diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver, obesity, reduced brain function, and a few cancers.
While you are supposed to consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, bad food habits can make you consume as many as 25 teaspoons of sugar per day! Avoid foods (including salad dressings and sauces) that contain ingredients like dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose, concentrated fruit juice, molasses, invert sugar, etc.
7. Take Care Of The Environment
By consuming more plant-based foods, limiting meat intake, and avoiding processed foods, you will help reduce the carbon print. You will help lower the use of herbicides and pesticides, reduce the practice of injecting hormones into fish and other meats, and decrease the level of air, water, and soil pollution.
8. Read The Label
Read the label. Not to see the calories but to see what ingredients are being tossed into the canned or packaged food that you are choosing to eat. You will find that most of these foods are loaded with preservatives and additives that are potentially harmful to your health in the long run.
9. Shop Along The Perimeter
The perimeter of any supermarket is where you get all the veggies, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. If you want to eat clean but get easily drawn to packaged food, it is best to avoid taking a round of those shelves until you establish clean eating as your new lifestyle.
10. More Than 10 Ingredients, Put It Back!
The more the number of ingredients in a food, the more dangerous it is. Kid you not! Processed foods have more number of ingredients to increase their shelf life, enhance their taste, and prevent them from getting spoiled.
Well, this may not look like a whole lot of burden, but practicing clean eating and making it a habit can be tough. But hey! Don’t let that bother you. Yes, you might slip a little in the beginning, but if you keep at it, you will soon establish a new eating habit that will make you feel amazing.