Eating “clean” is pretty popular right now, with celebs like Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and Katy Perry touting its benefits. Clean eaters report feeling less bloated, more energized and having that healthy glow.
There are many variations of a clean diet. Paleo enthusiasts eat clean by avoiding grains, starchy vegetables and sugar. Vegetarians avoid meat; a clean vegan eschews all types of animal products. Others search out raw dairy and fermented foods to add to their diet.
In my opinion, eating clean requires you to tune into your body and eat in a way that fully nourishes and honors your unique dietary needs. While there isn’t one definition of clean eating, there are some basic tenants:
1. Eat whole, minimally processed foods. No Velveeta, here. Real food, simply prepared, tastes amazing. You decide if meat and dairy help you feel well. Standard white or brown sugar is avoided in favor of less processed options like honey, maple syrup, and coconut or date sugar.
2. Focus on meals or snacks that add value. Clean meals have added nutrients– whether you add pureed squash to macaroni and cheese or greens to a smoothie, or use sweet potatoes instead of white, it’s all about elevating nutritional value.
3. Use healthy, monounsaturated fats + coconut oil. Think nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oils. Coconut oil has been shown to resist candida albicans (yeast) and is thought to be heart healthy, though more research is needed.
4. Experiment with gluten-free grains. Many people have gluten sensitivities. Even if you don’t, incorporating gluten free grains into your diet adds nutrient variety (millet, quinoa and amaranth need some love, too!)
5. Buy local & organic, when possible. Food has the most nutrients when it’s fresh. You’ll find the freshest (and often the least expensive) fruits and vegetables at your farm stand or farmer’s market. Buying organic protects water quality, protects the health of the farmer and field workers, and promotes biodiversity.
So, you wanna eat clean but don’t know where to start? I recommend choosing one meal and focusing on cleaning it up 3-4 times a week. For example, if you want to upgrade your lunch, you can find a few clean recipes you enjoy and strive to eat clean at lunchtime for 3-4 days that week. Repeat until it feels comfortable, then move on to breakfast or dinner.
Don’t get slowed down by trying to eat perfectly “clean.” Remember, your diet is a vehicle for living an energized life. Fuel it 80 percent of the time with high-test, healthy foods and leave yourself some room for treats.
Written by: Katie Haines, CHHC
Healthy Roots, Happy Life LLC www.healthyrootshappylife.com