There are so many fad diets and gimmicks out there but I believe the best way to get healthier, no matter the state your body is in, is to eat clean whole foods.
When you think about it, it's quite simple. Why do we obsess over restrictive diets and fads that remove entire macronutrient groups from our diet or make us count the calories in every bite? Those diets may work in the short term but long term health needs to be sustainable for years to come. A healthy diet needs to be focused on crowding out the bad food with nutrient dense clean food. Think about what you eat and make whole food choices as much as possible.
As a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I have learned why we can't eliminate entire macronutrient groups and why it's important to eat a balanced diet. It's not about the calories. Clearly, we all know that we need to eliminate processed food and steer clear of the Standard American Diet (SAD- appropriately named).
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating simply means eating whole, unprocessed foods that can be found in nature.
Eating clean means eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, eggs, meat and fish. For some, it means going gluten free, but that is not necessary as long as you stick to whole grains. Personally, I am gluten free because I feel better removing it from my diet.
There are no strict guidelines and it can mean different things for different people.
What are the Benefits of Eating Clean?
There are many benefits to eating a clean diet including more energy, clearer skin, less brain fog, fewer cravings, weight loss, better mental health and stronger hair and nails.
Who doesn't want that?
Eating whole foods ensures that you get loads of vitamins and minerals that are missing from processed foods. The more variety you eat the more likely you are to meet your nutritional needs. Eat the rainbow!
Here is just a sampling of the Nutrients you get from WHOLE FOODS...
- Fat Soluble Vitamins like A, D, E and K.
- Water Soluble Vitamins like B and C.
- Minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur.
- Trace minerals like copper, chromium, iodine, iron and zinc.
How To Eat Clean
So how do you begin to eat cleaner? My number one piece of advice is to take baby steps. It's just like those New Year's Resolutions that don't last! Take one simple action step at a time and you are more likely to stick with them for the long term.
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Eat whole unprocessed foods including lots of vegetables and fruit. The funny thing is when you eat lots of fruits and veggies, you are crowding out all the other processed badness and reducing your exposure to chemicals, hormones and toxins. You can only eat so much so try to fill up on the good stuff. (Hint: get it OUT of the house!)
Limit the bad stuff...
- soda and juice
- processed foods (most things that come in a package)
- limit refined carbs (those foods containing white flour or white sugar like baked donuts, muffins, cookies and breads)
- limit alcohol
Quick Tips to Get Started Eating Clean Today
- Eat more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, eggs, grass-fed meat, nuts, whole grains, seeds and dairy. Stick to those foods that occur in nature and are not made in a factory! (Smoothies are great for packing in the vegetables!)
- Drink plenty of water.
- Limit refined carbohydrates. Limit foods made from white flour and white sugar like pasta, white rice, white bread and pastries.
- Instead, replace those refined carbs with healthy complex carbs like sweet potatoes, farro, brown rice and Brussel sprouts.
- Add in some healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds.
- When possible buy organic produce for the EWG Dirty Dozen.
I promise if you commit to a few baby steps each week you will start to see results. You might start to have more energy or have fewer sugar cravings. Cutting out sugar eliminates sugar cravings for me.
Sample Clean Eating Menu for One Day
1 medium apple with almond butter
Looking for easy clean recipes? Try some of these out...
Clean Eating Resources - All My Favorite Resources for Eating Healthy
- Harvard Health
- Dr. Hyman
- Dr. Cabral
- Integrative Nutrition Blog
- Shape Magazine
- Eating Well