What is Clean Eating?

Clean eating.

It is the recent concept craze that highlights healthy, whole, and unprocessed foods. It may be a new phrase but the eating plan isn’t. It is all about eating more of the healthiest food groups and less of the “unhealthy” foods. It suggests that we choose whole foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats and proteins. It motivates us to reduce consumption of foods with pesticides, preservatives, additives, refined grains, huge salt and sugar content,  and unhealthy fats. With clean eating, one should avoid highly-refined foods, like processed foods, with ingredients that are “scientifically” named.

Here are the easy and useful tips for those who want to start clean eating.

Rig yourself with produce.

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This means that we should select whole and natural foods like vegetables and fruits which most of us are not getting enough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are 76% Americans do not get sufficient  fruits every day and a hooting 87% of Americans are not eating the recommended amount of vegetables.

When we eat more vegetables and fruits, it helps in reducing risks for several chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and some cancers. The fiber content in whole produce helps in collecting good bacteria in our stomach called microbiome which is good because it lowers risks for autoimmune illnesses, combats pathogens, infections, and even improve our mood.

Choose whole grains over refined foods.

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Experts explain that the best whole grains are those that have least touched by processing. These are the just-harvested quinoa, oats, and wild rice. There are individuals who choose to abstain from taking any processed grains and diets include whole wheat pasta and whole grain bread prepared from simple ingredients that are part of eating clean.

There are times when you feel you need a hearty slice of avocado toast or a bowl of pasta. Always remember never to be cheated with labels that contain “whole grains” by looking deeper into its ingredients. Whole grains must always be the first ingredient and the ingredient list should be short and recognizable with minimal added sugar (if needed).

Choosing whole grains over refined carbs like sugar, white pasta, and white bread, you will be getting more fiber, inflammation-fighting phytonutrients, and antioxidants. And individuals who eat more whole grains will have easy time in reducing their unwanted weight and keeping it off for a long time.

However, clean sugars like honey, maple syrup, and dehydrated sugar cane juice are also good options, while legumes and beans are also important part of this clean eating habit.

Limit on eating meat.

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Most research recommend on eating less meat. Some experts claimed that veganism is not part of clean eating since the latter encourages eating less meat to help us reduce high blood pressure, lower risks for heart problems, and keep our weight in check.  While eating more produce help us get the fiber we need, we also need healthy fats and vitamins and minerals in our diet. Most Americans get their suggested 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight, or approximately 56 grams every day for men and 46 grams each day for women. Nuts, beans, eggs, and dairy with no-added sugar also offer protein that we need.

Choose meat which is not loaded with antibiotics and grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon. Clean eating is slashing on processed meat including bacon, cold cuts, and sausage.

Be careful with processed foods.

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Clean eating does not mean totally excluding processed foods. Categorically, when we slice, blend, and cook at home, we are also processing food. The difference with most processed bought in store is processed beyond the “point of recognition,” which makes it unhealthy. Nature does not color chips, cereals, and candies with neon colors. Watch for any food loaded with sugar, refined grains, and long list of ingredients that we ordinarily do not understand. Watch out also for any food that contain hydrogenated oils.

We call it clean processed foods like yogurt and whole wheat grains. We suggest to make your own salad dressings, mayo, broth, pasta sauce, and hummus at home. When you need to buy processed food in a store, just read and watch out for the ingredient list. Experts explain that our body digest these unprocessed and processed foods differently.

Cut down on sugar.

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The American Heart Association always remind us that we should not take more than nine teaspoons of sugar everyday for men and six teaspoons for women. Still, many people eat so many foods with added sugar. An average American takes about four times of the recommended amount or 28 teaspoons of added sugar each day.

Clean up our diet by reducing added sugar through restricting eating sweets candy, soda, and baked goods.  Also, watch out for sugars that are contained in healthy foods including yogurt, cereal, and tomato sauce. Choose plain yogurt and look for foods without sugar as ingredient. Or, you can have those foods if sugar is towards the last ingredient since this means there is less sugar in it. Fruits and dairy have protein, fiber, or some fat that help cut the effects of sugar on its insulin levels.

Think of the environment.

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Clean eating is a better choice for people and the environment. Reports state that agriculture is responsible for about one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions, while meat industry is considered the biggest violators of our environment. To raise and feed animals take plenty of resources, including methane that is emitted from digestion and manure, particularly from goats, cows, and sheep, making the carbon marks bigger.

Reports also claim that there are some fishing practices that destroy the natural marine environments and over-fished some species of sea foods. Even the produce production takes toll with some kinds of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers that compromise the quality of water and soil.

With clean eating means taking more on vegetables and less on meats. This practice helps preserve the natural resources of the planet. One vegetarian diet needs three times less of the water and two-fifth times less energy to make compared to heavy-meat diets. For example, broccoli contains a carbon footprint and that is 13 times lower than of the same amount of a traditionally-raised beef. Changing from meat-based diet to plant-based is cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.

To help protect our environment from this greenhouse effect, select organic or grass-fed meat and sea foods, as well as vegetables and fruits.

Watch out on our sodium intake.

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Like sugar, we also take more sodium than the recommended dose. Health experts recommends 2,300 milligrams per day, or about a teaspoon of salt. If you are more than 50 years old and of the African-American descent, or those with high blood pressure, diabetes or severe kidney problem, you need to go lower on sodium, or about 1,500 milligrams each day.

It is claimed that almost 80% of the sodium in our foods comes from fast foods or convenience foods. By reducing intake of processed foods, it will help us lessen our salt consumption. To help cut down on using salt while we cook, use herbs and spices, vinegar, and citrus to flavor our foods. Clean eating does not mean we never use salt on foods, but it is important to bring out the natural flavor of foods with natural spices – sparingly and wisely. Kosher salt and coarse sea salt can be used moderately by drizzling them on dishes at the end of cooking foods. They also have lesser amount of sodium compared to table salt.

Keep moving and active.

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Physical activities on a regular basis is good for the whole body. It helps us burn fats, strengthen and build firm muscle, and keep our heart, lungs, and bones strong and healthy! No matter how we religiously follow healthy diets and we stay inactive and sluggish. One does not need to go to gyms to do some simple exercises. Yoga is a good choice.

 

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