Clean eating is a refreshing departure from typical diets. Instead of counting calories or avoiding certain food groups, clean eating is all about eating foods in their natural form. While it can seem like a daunting task in today’s society with all of its overly processed meal options, it isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Before we get into how to eat clean, however, we should take a look at why.
Why to Eat Clean
Consider your car. When you put high octane fuel in it, it runs at peak performance. If you have ever gotten watered down fuel, you know that your car spits, sputters, and may even stall completely without the proper fuel. The same is true if you let your tank become completely empty. As your car runs out of fuel, it doesn’t perform as well. Eventually, it will stop running completely. Our bodies need the proper fuel to run properly as well. The concept of clean eating says that putting processed foods into your body is the same as putting watered down fuel in your car. It won’t run at its optimum level. Proponents of clean eating believe that you can achieve weight loss and reverse many common diseases by eating foods in their natural state.
To see the difference between processed and unprocessed foods, let’s look at the difference between an apple and applesauce. One apple has 65 calories and 16 grams of carbohydrates. It also has 10% of the recommended intake of Vitamin C. One serving of canned sweetened applesauce has 194 calories and 51 grams of carbohydrates. It has 7% of the recommended intake of Vitamin C. The body also processes the applesauce quicker than the apple, so it takes less calories to break down the food, and the sugar is released into the blood stream more quickly.
Clean eating isn’t a fad diet. It is a lifestyle. Some people begin only eating clean eating foods and stop processed foods completely. If you don’t feel like you can live with food choices that don’t include the rare trip to a fast food restaurant or a bag of chips, that’s OK. The key to making long lasting lifestyle changes is often to start small. While your body will reap the most benefits by switching entirely to clean eating, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can choose to start small. Once you begin incorporating clean foods into your diet you will notice you feel better when you eat them. This should naturally lead you to choose them more and more often, without feeling like you are denying yourself anything.
What is Clean Eating
The basic guideline of clean eating is that you avoid overly processed foods, those grown with pesticides, and those given antibiotics and growth hormones. When it comes to things that have been processed, there are a few guidelines you can follow to see how clean it is. Firstly, there should be no more than ten ingredients on the package. Secondly, it shouldn’t contain anything that you don’t know how to pronounce. All of those hard to pronounce ingredients found in many processed foods are chemicals and preservatives, including e-numbers. Our bodies were not meant to ingest these substances.
Beware of Health Marketing Ploys
Many times these ultra processed foods are marketed to seem healthier. Take a look at Kraft Singles. The label actually says “processed cheese product” and it has 17 ingredients if you only count cheddar cheese as one ingredient. The label also has a healthy wholesome glass of milk and the phrase “3 a day” implying that their cheese product has the same health benefits as unprocessed dairy foods. Anything that says “low fat”, “no saturated fat“, or “fat free” should be an immediate red flag. Check the labels on these foods carefully and you will find most of them are loaded with sugar to compensate. We’ve been sold the lie that fat (especially saturated fat) is our enemy. We are now discovering that the “healthier” hydrogenated oils are far worse for our bodies than saturated fat.
Tips for Clean Eating
There are also some foods that you can swap out for healthier options. If you aren’t used to eating vegetables, you may want to slather them in salad dressing. All salad dressings aren’t bad, but you are going to want to stay away from some of them. Vinaigrettes can be a good option, but you should check the sugar content on the label. The better option is to make your own. Mix olive oil, vinegar, and your favourite herbs together for a healthy clean vinaigrette. If you like ranch, you can make your own healthy version of it as well. Start with organic yogurt, dill, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Add it to a food processor and blend it together. Then slowly add in olive oil. Make a big batch and keep it in your refrigerator.
Fruit juices are another trap that many people fall into. If you want juice you have a few healthy options. Select organic juice with fruit and vegetables and drink it sparingly, or make your own smoothies with a blender. Remember commercial juices are no substitute for actual fruit, and many of them contain as much sugar as soda.
When you see “whole wheat bread” in your supermarket, you assume that’s the healthy stuff right? When you are shopping for bread, you should choose bread that is 100% whole wheat. It will look different than the average wheat bread, which is really just as processed as the white stuff. You should see grains on the loaf. It will be much denser than white bread, so don’t be afraid to give it a squeeze. You should also check the label. Words like ‘enriched wheat flour” mean that it has been overly processed. If it has anything in it that you can’t pronounce, you can assume it isn’t clean.
There are plenty of healthy oils to choose from when you are cooking. Olive oil, coconut oil, and red palm oil are all great choices. If you really want butter, buy actual butter. Grass fed butter is the best, but get real butter. Not margarine or a butter spread. These were made in a lab and are not meant to go in our bodies. Research has shown that people who swap margarine for butter are more likely to die from heart disease.
Foods labelled “healthy” or “diet” are often anything but. Many meal replacement bars are no healthier than a candy bar. Breakfast cereals that are promoted to be healthy are often extremely processed. There is nothing wrong with being vegan, but you should understand you are subject to the same marketing ploys s everyone else.
Creating a Shopping List
When you begin your clean eating journey, you will need to create a clean eating shopping list. The first thing you should know is to shop on the edges of the supermarket. This is where all the healthy unprocessed foods will be found. Of course organic fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products should all be included on your shopping list. Here are some staples that should be included on your clean eating shopping list.
- Brown rice
- Soya noodles
- Grass fed beef
- Nut butter (not peanut butter)
Veggies and Fruits
Choose what you like. Try to buy organic, and choose a range of different colours to get all of the nutrients you need.
Condiments and spices are essential to make our food flavorful. No matter how healthy it is, you won’t eat it if it doesn’t taste good.
- Olive oil and coconut oil
- Black and cayenne pepper, turmeric, red pepper flakes, Himalayan salt
- Hot sauce
- Apple cider and red wine vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Maple syrup (real maple syrup)
Clean Eating Snacks
Let’s face it this is where lots of diets fail. You have your healthy meals all planned out, but then you are hungry between meals. You need something quick. Snacks can be convenient and healthy. Quinoa and black bean tortilla chips will satisfy your cravings for something crunchy. You can dip them in hummus, homemade salsa, or guacamole for a tasty snack. Keeping some fresh fruits and vegetables sliced in your refrigerator can also satisfy your craving.
Getting Your Kids on a Clean Eating Diet
You may be wondering how you will ever get your kids on board with clean eating. The good news is that kids don’t really care how healthy food is, as long as it tastes good. Here are some tasty clean eating recipes perfect for kids.
Apple breakfast parfaits make a great breakfast for kids and adults alike. If you prefer another fruit, feel free to substitute it for the apple. You take organic unfavored yogurt, add the fruit and some granola for crunch. For a more savoury breakfast, you can make a frittata.
You will need:
- Large non stick skillet
- Medium potato
- One onion
- One zucchini
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup white cheddar or parmesan cheese
- 10 eggs
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Chop all the vegetables. Add them to the pan along with the olive oil. Cook it over medium heat until the vegetables are tender. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the salt and pepper. Pour the eggs into the pan and toss everything together. Cook it for five minutes without stirring. Add the cheese and cover until the eggs are done. Other hand snacks include fruit and vegetable sticks – simply get some fruit and veg, like carrots, peppers, apples and oranges – slice into bite size pieces and arrange them in a bowl.
What about when you bring your kids shopping, navigating the checkout is a nightmare as its full of bad stuff. Some supermarkets are removing the sweet treats, or impulse buys, from the checkout area but until then you have to be ready to deal with it. If you have to give them a sweet treat, make it raisins – Check the back to ensure they are healthy but generally they come in handy snack boxes so always handy to have. Be careful though as they are high in natural sugars, which can harm teeth and we all know about the other negative effects of too much sugar.
Looking for a sugar free snack for your kids? Rucksnacks is perfect for kids, who we all know can be fussy eaters. Our experience is that they will love the packaging and it will remind them of their school bags! As our snack is high in protein, it is very filling and great repair and growth! find out more about our nutritional information here and you can order healthy snacks for children here, that are delivered to your home, office or school! Easy!
For many of us, our weak point isn’t what we eat. It’s what we drink. If you are used to drinking sodas or other artificial drinks, it can seem hard to give them up. We all know water is good for us, but it can get boring. There are clean drinks for every taste.
First, water should be your staple drink. If you don’t like water, you can flavor it up. Add one sliced lemon or lime to your normal water. You can also add your favourite fruit. Watermelon, strawberries, kiwis, and cucumbers work well for this. Add your choice of fruit to the pitcher and fill it with water. Put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours to let the flavors infuse in the water. Try to monitor your water, pretty much everyone, including us, struggle at hitting our daily target. Aim for 1L per 25kg of bodyweight – Our tip is if your target is 3L per day, fill 3 x 1L bottle and sip on them throughout the day – it also helps keep hunger at bay!
If you are a coffee lover, you don’t have to give it up. Consider purchasing organic coffee beans and grinding them yourself. Try to avoid sugar if possible, but if you need something try to use a natural sweetener, like honey. Use either natural creamer or coconut or almond milk. Herbal teas are another great choice. Again sweeten with honey instead of refined sugar.
Even if you are seriously committed to clean eating, you can still indulge occasionally. Most proponents of clean eating suggest going by the 80/20 rule. This means as long as 80% of your food is clean, you will reap the maximum benefits of clean eating. This is because our bodies are designed to filter out harmful substances. Nutrients found in fruits and vegetables actually aid the body in this process. When 80% of the food you eat is clean, your body is able to handle the harmful substances found in the other 20%.