The Skinny on Clean Eating
Clean eating is a term that’s been thrown around a lot over the last decade. When I ask people what they mean when they say they want to eat clean, I often get a number of different answers. From eating things with only five ingredients to cutting out foods the contain gluten, dairy, and sugar to only consuming fruit and vegetable juice, eating clean seems to be a number of things.
So what does clean eating really mean?
One definition that nutritionists, health coaches, and food gurus all agree on is that a clean diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural states as possible. Simply put, whole foods, which can include dairy, soy, and gluten, prepared with few added ingredients and very little processing. Sounds simple, right?
Walking through the grocery store, a majority of products on the shelves have been processed, refined, and pumped full of sodium and sugar to increase shelf life. While they are convenient, these packaged foods are far from clean in a dietary sense. But if so many items in stores aren’t clean, how can you follow a clean diet on limited time and a limited budget? Here are four simple tips:
Cook more often. Resisting packaged meals from the grocery store is the first step in cleaning up your diet. By cooking your meals from scratch, you’ll know exactly what’s in them, and more importantly what’s not in them. Stick to simple ingredients such as vegetables, whole grains, and organic meats or proteins.
Look at ingredient labels. Even if you don’t have time to cook often, getting to know ingredient labels is key. Try to stick to foods that have ingredients you know and can pronounce. You’ll also want to steer clear of preservatives, added sodium, and added sugars.
Drink more water and non-sugary drinks. Water in your body works to help keep your system clear of things it doesn’t need including toxins, waste, and other byproducts of digestion. If you’re trying to keep your diet clean, drink at least 64 oz. of water per day. If you’re active, or it’s summertime, you’ll need more. While you’re at it, start to cut down on the alcohol intake, too.
Eat more veggies and healthy fats. While vegetables are a no brainer, some people assume that fat is a no-no when eating clean. While certain types of fat are no good (think saturated fats), the healthy fats found in nuts, avocados, and coconut oil are essential in the absorption of nutrients during digestion. But remember, these are still fats and shouldn’t be consumed as a large part of your diet.
What are your tricks to keep your diet clean?