You’ve probably heard the term or maybe know someone who claims to be following such a food regimen: Clean Eating. What exactly does it mean? I read several articles, all with varying definitions and exceptions. I’ll do my best to explain it, at least as I understand it. There are things about it that make a lot of sense. Best of all, it’s compatible with just about any other healthy eating program you might be trying to follow.
In a nutshell, clean eating means choosing foods that are not processed or are minimally processed. The sticky parts comes when you attempt to define “processed.” Picture yourself at the grocery store, with your cart. Imagine all the foods that are positioned on the outer sections of the store: Produce, meats, dairy, seafood. Most of these are acceptable. Food items that are fortified are okay – that’s an example of good processing. Most frozen vegetables and some canned ones are also good. Look at the labels for ingredients you cannot pronounce or don’t recognize. Chemicals and preservatives are a no-no. Added sugar or too much sodium- also not good.
Confusing, right? To make matters worse, there are some other rules, too.
- It is recommended that we eat five or six times daily, including three meals and two snacks. But don’t reach for the potato chips! Snacks should be a small portion of lean protein and maybe some fresh fruit.
- Buying organic is a good way to ensure you’re getting the freshest, unprocessed food. But it’s also expensive! Pick and choose. Items like meat, chicken and eggs are a good bet.
- Not all carbs are created equal. Consume complex carbs, like whole grains. Avoid sugar and white flour. Sorry, but that means most breads and regular pastas.
- Eat only healthy fats and eliminate essential fatty acids.
Many of these are not news and you’re probably already aware of – if not doing – them. Here’s the things about clean eating: You can do as little or as much as you want. You can stick to a clean eating routine most of the time and really reap the benefits. Or, you can dabble in going meatless once a week. You can carry it over into other parts of your life, called clean living.
Let’s take it one step at a time. Before you reach for the tofu, we’ll take a closer look at some of the specific foods that are considered clean and maybe some simple recipes using foods with which we’re already familiar.
Tomorrow’s blog will pick it up here. Meanwhile, give some thought to how you might incorporate fresh ingredients into your regular diet. Imagine shopping along the perimeter of the grocery store. Can you get everything you need?