If you are like I was, then you probably think that the term "eating clean" refers to eating food that has been washed and cooked properly, am I right? Fact is, "eating "clean" actually refers to eating only things that are clean for your body in terms of digestion. Your body is very special - you have only one - so you need to treat it right. Read these 8 things to know about eating clean and learn what it takes to eat for a healthier you.
1. Organic Choices
"Eating clean" is all about going organic. When you choose organic produce and meat, you are choosing food that is free from all those pesticides, additives, steroids and other ugly things. If you don't have access to much organic produce in your local grocery store, know that it is still much more healthy for you to choose fresh fruits and veggies over packaged and canned stuff any day. As to the meat, well, we will get into that next.
2. Less Meat
Unlike what we have been taught growing up, you do not need that much meat protein in order to grow healthy muscles. You can find great sources of protein in many vegetables as well. I'm not saying that you should totally cut out meat. If you enjoy meat, that's fine. I will say, however, that to "eat clean" you have to watch the meat choices you make. Definitely stay away from meats that have been packaged and processed, as well as meat that has been given steroids and antibiotics and such. Try to limit your meat intake to just a couple meals a week, and choose wild meats such as venison and wild turkey, as well as local, farm raised chicken with the occasional beef steak if you like. Fish is another great choice; just try to buy the wild caught fish, rather than farm raised. Also, if you eat eggs, find a local farmer to supply you instead of buying them at the store.
3. Natural Products
Sugar, in its natural state, is not bad for you. Really, it isn't. However, processing in the factory really messes with the nutritional value of sugar. Therefore, it is important to "eating clean" that you stay away from processed sugars. Instead of white sugar or brown sugar, try honey, maple syrup and stevia. Don't fall for the "natural agave" sweetener thing either! It's processed too! Try to buy your honey locally because local honey can actually help to ward off allergies, but even if there is no local honey, you should still look for organic honey and maple syrup and get stevia in it's natural form as well. (Most herbal stores carry it.)
4. Read Labels
This was a lesson learned for me. Just because a package says "all natural" doesn't mean it is truly natural. The sad truth is that 80-90% of all foods at the grocery store claiming to be all natural are not natural at all! The only sure-fire way to tell if a product is truly all natural is to read the label. When I started this journey for myself, I was told that the general rule when shopping for clean foods is that anything with more than 5 ingredients is bad for you and anything with 5 ingredients or less is okay to buy. There are a few exceptions, however. If you see any word that you don't know what it is, you probably shouldn't buy it.
5. No Fast Food
This was one of the hardest parts of "eating clean" for me, simply because of my errand day. With two small children, running errands is hard enough. It is so easy to just run to Burger King or Taco Bell and grab something quick. The problem is that fast food is highly processed and is so terribly bad for you! If you must go out to eat and have very little time, Subway would be a better choice; however it isn't the greatest choice because their food is processed as well. Your better choice is to find places with "real" food and order the healthiest you can. The very best choice you could make is to bring food with you from home.
Take it easy on the dairy products as well. Did you know that eating dairy products actually decreases the calcium in your body rather than increase it? While an occasional glass of milk or a bit of "real" butter is okay, you would be better off choosing more healthy alternatives like almond milk (which is really good, by the way) and unpasteurized natural cheeses. In my house, our main source of dairy is the plain yogurt that I use in a lot of recipes.
7. No Vitamins
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to take multivitamin supplements. That is, if you are eating a diet full of nutrient-giving plants. Anything and everything you need to live can be found in fruits and veggies alone. Did you know that? The trick is making sure you get a variety of all fruits and vegetables and all colors instead of eating a few. If you have any vegetables that you don't like, you could try juicing occasionally so you can get their nutrients without their taste. Vitamins also have things added to them that simply aren't good for you.
8. Splurges Accepted
Living in the world we do, with all that tempting food, it would be difficult to cut off entirely. It is good to make the right decisions about what you eat, but occasionally it is okay to just cheat a little. If you are eating 90-95 percent good, clean food, that other 5-10 percent is acceptable for not-so-clean food. Face it, it's still much better than eating all processed foods, right? With this in mind, do make the smartest choices when cheating, if you can. For instance, the other day, I baked an apple crisp for my mother in law for Mother's Day, and ice cream sounded so good with it! Guess what I found in the freezer section? "All natural" ice cream that really was all natural! Five ingredients! Milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and vanilla bean! Sure, it had sugar, but it was a much smarter choice than an ice cream with more processed ingredients for certain! And it was so good!
9. You Feel Better
When you are eating clean, you feel better. You have more energy, you are able to get up earlier and you can think more clearly when you have the fruits and vegetables in your body that it needs.
10. You Lose Weight
No diet necessary when you are eating clean. Just by eating the proper foods, your body will drop weight naturally. This is especially evident in people who have a hard time losing weight to all the fad diets out there. Of course, you need a good exercise routine as well, but proper diet will yield proper weight.
When you are eating clean, your body is working the way that it was designed to work. You are like a well oiled machine, working good, playing great and feeling wonderful! If you feel like giving this way of life a try, you can take a 10 day or a 100 day challenge at the 100 Days of Clean Food website, where you will find all the information you need to get started. So, my question to you is, how clean do you eat? I want to hear from you! What does your diet consist of? Do you think you could give up junk food for a better feeling you? Please leave a comment and talk to me! Be fabulous and have a great day!