By Franziska Spritzler
The term “clean eating” has become very popular among the health conscious.
Clean eating is an eating pattern that focuses on fresh, whole foods. This lifestyle can be easy and enjoyable, as long as you follow a few general guidelines.
This article explains what clean eating is and provides 11 simple tips to eat clean.
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating doesn’t have anything to do with food being clean or dirty.
The idea is to consume foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
Selecting foods that have been raised with integrity and protecting the health of animals and the environment is also part of clean eating.
Bottom Line: Clean eating involves choosing foods that are minimally processed, ethically raised and rich in naturally occurring nutrients.
1. Eat More Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables and fruits are undeniably healthy.
Fresh vegetables and fruits are ideal foods for clean eating, as most can be consumed raw immediately after picking and washing.
Choosing organic produce can help you take clean eating one step further by reducing pesticide exposure and potentially increasing the health benefits of fruits and vegetables (6).
Here are some easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
- Make your salad as colorful as possible, including at least three different vegetables in addition to greens.
- Add berries, chopped apples or orange slices to your salad.
- Wash and chop veggies, toss them with olive oil and herbs and place them in a container in the refrigerator for easy access.
Bottom Line: Vegetables and fruits should form the basis of a clean eating lifestyle. They are whole foods that require little preparation and provide many health benefits.
2. Limit Processed Foods
Processed foods are directly opposed to clean eating because they have been modified, to some extent, from their natural state.
Most of them have lost some of their fiber and nutrients, yet gained sugar, chemicals or other unhealthy ingredients during processing. Processed foods have been linked to inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease (7).
Even if unhealthy ingredients aren’t added to processed foods, these foods still lack many of the benefits provided by whole foods.
What’s more, processed foods take less energy to digest and absorb than whole foods do, making them more likely to cause weight gain over time.
In one study, healthy adults consumed a 600-calorie meal containing either whole or processed foods. The group that consumed whole foods burned twice as many calories digesting their meals (8).
In order to eat clean, it’s important to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Bottom Line: Processed foods conflict with clean eating principles due to the loss of naturally occurring nutrients and the addition of preservatives and other questionable ingredients.
3. Read Labels
Although clean eating is based on whole, fresh foods, there are certain types of packaged foods that can be included.
Examples include packaged vegetables, nuts, meats and other foods.
For instance, many nuts are roasted in vegetable oil, which can expose them to heat-related damage.
It’s best to purchase raw nuts and consume them as is or toast them at a low temperature in your oven.
As another example, salad mixes that are pre-washed and ready to eat can be a huge time saver. However, be sure to check the ingredients label for additives, especially on the salad dressing that often comes with it.
Bottom Line: To maintain a clean eating lifestyle, read labels to ensure that packaged produce, nuts, meats and other foods contain no questionable ingredients.
4. Stop Eating Refined Carbs
Refined carbs are highly processed foods that are easy to overeat yet provide little nutritional value.
In one analysis of 2,834 adults who took part in a large health study, people who consumed mostly whole grains were shown to be less likely to carry excess belly fat than those who consumed mainly refined grains (14).
If you are going to eat grains, choose the kinds that have been least processed, such as sprouted grain bread and steel-cut oats. Stay away from ready-to-eat cereals, white bread and other refined carbs.
Bottom Line: Refined grains are inflammatory…