When the clean eating movement first began it was slightly controversial because it meant that issues in mainstream, tried and trusted products were being pointed out. The dieting industry used buzz words like “sugar-free” and “low-fat” to grab people’s attention and now “clean eating” is being used in that same manner.
The use of marketing terms is proven to get the consumer to buy food products that appear healthy or “clean,” but in fact still have ingredients that are not real, whole foods.
So, I wanted to share exactly what clean eating truly means to me. How it’s defined, why I do it and how it makes me feel.
The simplest rule for clean eating is to eat whole, natural and real foods. For example, eat some blueberries, not something with blueberry flavoring. At its most basic this means foods that don’t have crap added to them, but during processing it also means that they haven’t had anything taken away from them. For example, rice. Brown rice is an excellent grain to eat, but white rice has become more mainstream and while it is still rice instead of adding anything it’s been stripped and bleached of its good parts and what remains is practically cardboard.
Anytime a whole food is changed from its natural form the true value of nutrients become diminished. That doesn’t mean you have to live on plants, fruits and vegetables the rest of your life, but it does raise concern when eating foods that come from mainstream manufacturing where not only are the nutrients diminished through processing but chemicals, dyes and preservatives are added. Those are the “unclean” ingredients that the consumer needs to be careful of. If you make your own sauce, marinades, and cook from scratch you can be in control of what you are adding in, but when you buy packaged dressings, sauces, soups , cereals and other foods you need to be aware of the ingredients used.
Clean eating is also a mindset about how you watch what you eat. Most diets and health choices used to be based on how many calories, how much trans fat, etc. So, we started reading labels for these things and ignoring the ingredient list. If you start with the ingredient list and make sure the things you eat are whole, natural ingredients than you are feeding your body properly. These foods will naturally be low in calories and other elements that we check. Start with the ingredients and the other labels on a nutritional label will line up as well.
My rule is five ingredients or less in pre-packaged foods and I still read what those five ingredients are. I am sensitive to certain ingredients such as wheat and dairy so I want to make sure that those are not part of the five ingredients.
There are a lot of tips out there on exactly how to eat clean and live the lifestyle. Here is my quick, down and dirty list of the absolute musts for clean eating.
I’ve lived by these rules for quite a while now and the benefits are something I can personally vouch for. Our bodies truly are what we eat and the crap we put in them, turns out the crap that occurs to us from low energy, poor sleep, acne, thinning hair and more. As we feed our body what nature has developed we thrive in every aspect. We are healthier. We look better. We have more energy. Our brains are clearer.
So, to me “clean eating” isn’t a marketing term. It’s not a fad diet. While you will lose weight naturally by adopting the lifestyle, but it’s bigger than that. It’s disease prevention. It’s life-long.
The better I can fuel my body with foods that It recognizes and absorbs properly the better I feel both physically and emotionally. I am not always perfect but I am aware and mindful of what I am eating.
As a health coach I have helped many men and women learn how to read labels and cook foods that are tasty , nutritious and “clean,” I started Be Well Meals because I love good food and I love to help others get healthy and feel healthy. When you know the right ingredients to use and how to put them together eating healthy becomes part of your lifestyle and is not a burden on your time or energy.
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