By now you have probably read or heard about this and are wondering what exactly “clean eating” is. In a nutshell, clean foods are wholesome, unprocessed or naturally processed foods with health benefits. Clean eating is not a new concept. Just a new name. Health food enthusiasts have been eating non-processed natural foods for years. Because there are so many diet and health trends out there, I want to point out what clean eating is NOT.
It’s NOT vegan or vegetarian. While you will see vegetarian and vegan clean eating recipes, lean meats, fish and some dairy products can be considered clean eating depending on how the animal was raised and fed.
It’s NOT gluten free. If you are gluten sensitive or have Celiacs disease, you can convert clean eating recipes into gluten free as well but whole wheat products are considered clean foods. Whole wheat products are healthy unless you are gluten sensitive.
It’s NOT the same thing as the Paleo diet. The Paleo diet is clean but also has other restrictions that clean eating doesn’t.
It’s NOT a low calorie, low carb, or low fat weight loss plan. Clean foods encourage healthy fats, nuts, vegetables, naturally sweetened fruits and healthy natural sweeteners. You still have to eat in moderation, count calories, and exercise. However, unprocessed foods have more nutrients and fiber so they leave you feeling fuller and satisfied.
Clean eating is NOT the latest “diet trend.” Medical professionals have been telling us to eat fruits vegetables, grains, lean meat and fish – and stay away from processed food for years but the term to describe it, clean eating, is fairly new. As I stated above, it’s not a weight loss plan. It’s a health plan.
Why should you incorporate clean eating foods into your life?
Everytime you eat or drink, you’re either feeding a disease or fighting it. Research is finding that those consuming unhealthy fats, processed foods and white sugar are at a higher risk of getting cancer, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, joint pains, depression, and a list of other ailments. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Where to start?
First, begin reading ingredients of pre-packaged food you buy at the grocery store. Yup! You’ll be shocked at some of the junk manufacturers put in food. Even products that may appear benign probably are loaded with artificial ingredients, processed food or worse yet – high fructose corn syrup.
Eating clean will either require you to buy pre-packaged healthy foods at inflated prices from the health food store, or you can set aside a few hours per week, cook and prepare the upcoming weeks food and refrigerate or freeze it.
Organic foods are preferred but it’s understandable that sometimes they are hard time find and may not be affordable. Just wash the produce well and use what you can get your hands on.
I don’t believe in going cold turkey. Begin by gradually eliminating unhealthy foods and replacing them with clean foods. Even if you changed 25% of your daily food to clean eating, that’s better than nothing. And occasionally eating non-healthy foods such as on vacation, nice dinners out once a week or parties is ok. Just remember to keep it in moderation.
You might even be surprised at some of the food that is considered clean eating. For example, dark chocolate.
You’ll notice that some of my recipes on my blog are clean eating and many of them are not. For those that don’t follow a clean eating lifestyle or if you want to cheat, the option is there. It’s not my job or my business to lecture you on how to eat. You have the choice to determine for yourself. Besides, there are some baked items that really don’t taste as good when converted into clean eating recipes. So again, keep them in moderation.