Dieting is dead! After decades of bouncing around from low carb to high carb and South Beach to fasting, people are finally beginning to get the big picture about what really works for health. It isn’t about a fad eating method advertized by the latest Hollywood star. It is time to adopt a simpler approach and for once, one that actually does what it is supposed to: It is time to eat clean!
What is Clean Eating
There are different ways of explaining what clean eating is, but here is a basic definition that works:
Clean eating means consuming whole, real foods and avoiding as much as possible anything which is processed, refined and packaged. These foods should be as close to their natural state as possible
If you bear this simple idea in mind, you won’t go far wrong. It is not a diet that is based on supplements or pills. It is all about eating natural, healthy food.
Shopping for Natural Food
Of course, getting the full benefits starts with your grocery list. If you still have a lot of packaged, processed food on there and you intend to put it in your shopping trolloy, you are in trouble. Clean eating means exactly that:clean foods and natural foods.
You should be thinking in terms of ingredients rather than something ready-made. If you are used to simply opening the packet and putting that tv dinner in the microwave, this is going to be a huge change.
Your list is very important because it will make or break your diet. The best place to start is by making a meal plan. Choose what you want to cook and then simply buy only the ingredients necessary. You can certainly add in some healthy snacks, but this means fruit rather than candy bars!
And talking of stores, what about a rethink on where you shop? Today we are used to buying things in packets from under one roof. This isn’t the best way to purchase if you want to follow an eat-clean diet. It is time to look at things a little differently. Start by finding your local farmer’s market. Here you can source your food directly from the producer. Building up a good relationship with this person is the best way to guarantee that your food is free from pesticides, hormones and other nasty chemicals. You are also cutting out the middleman which is great both for your wallet and for the farmer.
If you are not sure where to start, here is a list of basics that should be in every kitchen:
Fresh fruits and vegetables.
Lean meats (chicken breast, for example)
Herbs and spices
This is a lot shorter than the list you usually take to the grocery store! Meals should be based around lean protein and unprocessed foods. Variety is important in order to get all your vitamins, minerals and amino acids. This means eating various different types of meat and fish as well as eggs and also following the seasons with fruits and vegetables while avoiding refined sugars. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a sweet tooth. Using natural, raw honey instead of maple syrup is fine, for instance.
Health Benefits of Whole Foods
The health benefits of clean foods and a clean diet are huge. Fast food which is full of saturated fats and trans fats is one of the biggest health issues we face today. It is a huge contributor to obesity and inflammation. Simply cutting this out and getting your daily calories from healthy fats and other quality natural ingredients will make a huge difference to how you look and feel. Your energy levels will rise and you will become far less dependent on that third (or fourth) cup of coffee to see you through the day.
Weight Loss the Easy Way
If you are looking to lose weight, changing your eating habits should be the foundation upon which all your efforts are built. Unfortunately, too many people think that they can eat badly and still get thin by suffering on a treadmill for a couple of hours a week. It just doesn’t work like that. Even if you only look at the calories in vs calories out picture, it still doesn’t work. Why is this?
Modern, processed foods are extremely calorie-dense. They provide a huge amount of low-quality goods in a relatively small package. Think of your favorite soda. It is packed with simple sugar and it is easy to get in over a 1000 calories (and rot your teeth at the same time) in a couple of glasses a day.
Compare this to a diet based around complex carbohydrates, healthy fat, fruit and vegetables. This is just the opposite. It provides sustained energy over the day to keep your blood sugar levels even. It is nutrient-dense, but not calorie-dense, meaning that you can eat more without worrying about weight gain, but knowing that you are providing your body with everything it needs.
Clean Eating Plans
There are many different ways to apply healthy eating principles. You might favor a paleo diet, avoiding anything that wasn’t available to our caveman ancestors. This works very well for many people, especially if you are looking for fat loss. Some will find this particular strategy overly-restrictive because it does remove grains and dairy products. While these can be linked to digestive problems in some people, others do just find with them. Personally, something like Greek yogurt is a staple of my diet.
If you are looking for a gluten free approach,or a low-carbohydrate diet, clean eating recipes should be right up your street. Packaged foods are notoriously high in cheap ingredients that act as fillers and are terrible for anyone who is carb watching or who has problems with gluten.
Of course, eating clean can be adapted to any goal. If you are looking for muscle growth, eating a good quantity of organic lean protein is perfect. Likewise, if you are more interested in reducing body weight, stocking up on fresh green vegetables free from pesticides and bought from a local farmer is without doubt the way to go.
The Clean Eating Kitchen
There are a few things that are going to be different in a healthy eating kitchen. Firstly, you should empty your cupboards of all those packages and the rest of the processed junk. Given that you will be relying on fresh produce and less on chemicals, you are going to need a big fridge! Organic produce doesn’t last as long simply because it hasn’t been chemically treated.
The other thing that every kitchen should have is a slow cooker. One of the difficulties we face when switching to natural food, is having enough time to prepare. A recent clean eating magazine article actually put the slow cooker at the top of the list of kitchen appliances and in terms of making food preparation easier, I would certainly agree. You can prepare things in the evening, set them cooking before going to work and have a delicious (and very nutritious) meal ready and waiting when you get home.
Clean eating is here to stay and really everyone should be eating this way. The success of Tosca Reno and other proponents of the “eat clean” philosophy of nutrition is a sign that this works. Turning your back on short-term diets based on pseudo-science for a natural method is a great first step towards better health and well-being.