The term “clean eating” can be intimidating, but this new, healthy living concept is quite simple. It’s easy to get stuck in the convenient routine of grabbing any breakfast bar that claims to be nutritious, or to stock up on those “healthy” yogurts that are actually filled with preservatives and added sugar. But the idea of eating clean doesn’t have to be a complicated transition.
So, what exactly does it mean to eat clean? It’s exactly how it sounds – free of all the bad ingredients. It’s finding balance of all nutrients in what we eat and all the food that we know to be good (i.e. vitamins, minerals, fiber, omega-3’s, and so on). It’s getting rid of the “not-so-clean” parts of our grocery list, such as ultra-processed foods, added sugars, and artificial ingredients. It’s avoiding the bagged potato chips, frozen cuisines and sugar-laden cereals, and otherwise loading up on the fresh fruit, crisp veggies, lean protein and whole grains.
Making the switch to an unprocessed diet is easier to do now than ever before, since most grocery stores are jumping on the health train and promoting a variety of whole food options for consumers. By having a cleaner approach toward your everyday diet, the calories aren’t the only thing that you’ll see drop. Adopting a cleaner way of eating on a regular basis might result in a weight loss! Steering clear of those unwanted ingredients that are filled with secret fats and sugars, will in turn decrease the risk of other diet-related health concerns. It’s also important to know that eating clean doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to eat 100% raw or straight from the ground all the time. It just means that it’s best to choose your groceries that have the least amount of ingredients listed on the label.
Don’t know where to start? Check the nutrition label on every food item. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients listed, they are likely additives or processed ingredients. When grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store, that way you don’t get distracted by the middle aisles which contain the “less clean” items. For starters, fill your cart with the basics:
- Fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables
- Dried legumes or organic canned beans and nut butters
- Farm-fresh eggs
- Unrefined grains (whole wheat bread and pasta, popcorn, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice)
- Unprocessed, grain fed or organic meat
- Hormone-free dairy
- Extra virgin oils
During the summer season, a great way to start “eating cleaner” is to frequent the local farmers’ markets!
Amanda Harris, BA in journalism and current nutrition student