Clean eating is a bit of a buzz word right now. So what is clean eating? And how best to approach it. Well, what it’s not is a diet or calorie counting. It is a lifestyle approach choosing fresh, whole, natural, energy boosting foods over refined convenience foods that can often leave you bloated, sluggish and fatigued. Clean eating generally works on the basis of eating balanced meals containing protein, fruit, vegetables and complex carbs alongside healthy snacks. Eating clean is really about eating the healthiest you can with good natural ingredients.
Clean foods in general contain few ingredients, possibly just one or two. Foods with a long list of man-made ingredients are not clean so it’s good practice to get in to the habit of reading your food labels.
Refined and processed foods
Pasta, sugar, bread, crackers and white flour all fall in to the non clean category.
Avoid all artificial sweeteners, instead replace in moderation with raw honey, stevia, pure maple syrup, date paste.
Cooking oils and salad oils
Replace all standard vegetable oils such as corn oil with healthier oils such as organic coconut oil and organic extra virgin oil. Note that all oils change chemical composition at high temperatures, coconut oil has a very high smoking point making it excellent for cooking with. Oils such as walnut, avocado, flax are best for drizzling over salads, vegetables or adding to dips.
Where possible try your best to buy organic produce. If your budget is limited then prioritise your purchases. I personally opt for buying organic meat, eggs, butter and milk and try my best to buy organic from the ‘dirty dozen’ list.
Buying organic meats in bulk can work out cheaper and money can be saved by making cheaper seasonal vegetable dishes such as stews, chilli and soups to balance out buying more expensive organic food.
If there just isn’t any room in your budget for organic produce than don’t get too stressed, remember that any fresh non-processed food is better than sugar loaded convenience food and ready meals.
Drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated, this alone can make a big difference to how you feel. Limit your alcohol and reduce caffeine intake replacing with herbal / fruit teas or just plain filtered water. Ditch the energy drinks, replace with homemade juices or get your energy from eating well and looking after yourself on all levels.
Complex carbs help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and help to avoid the ‘spikes’ and ‘crashes’ eating refined processed food can cause.
Complex carbs come from whole grains, starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, fruit, beans, legumes, pulses, seeds, nuts, and oats.
Get your girl guide on in the kitchen, preparation is key when trying to eat clean, getting ‘caught short’ often leads to unhealthy choices or if you like me food related mini meltdowns.
Cooking bulk batches of food and freezing or storing in the fridge is a great habit to get in to. Having healthy ‘go to’ snacks such as homemade hummus, carrot sticks, apple slices with nut butter can help you to avoid the pitfall of biscuit chomping.
Get creative, once you get in the swing of things it can be easy to make 3 different meals out of something basic such as ratatouille.
Avoid any ‘nasties’
Try to steer clear of foods that are fried, high in trans fats and sugar. Avoid preservatives, stabilisers, emulsifiers, nitrates, colourants etc. If you are going to fry at least make the oil a healthy one.
Isn’t clean eating expensive?
The answer to this is yes and no. Yes it is certainly more expensive to buy organic and quality produce but this can be offset by making bulk meals using cheaper fresh ingredients such as seasonal vegetables, beans, whole grains etc.
Baking when eating clean can be more expensive when using produce such as raw honey, raw cacao etc but if you limit yourself to baking once a week and gradually add to your store cupboard ingredients month by month it is doable.
You are only human
Making the decision to start a new way of eating can be daunting. Healthy eating isn’t about stressing out, depriving yourself or counting calories it about moving towards better health by making healthy food choices that work for your body. Some people like to radically overhaul their eating in one go, and others like to work at a slower pace; which ever route you chose it doesn’t mean rushing to the cupboard and immediately start throwing your jar of Skippy about the place in a cleansing frenzy.
A good place to start is to use healthier alternatives to replace one meal at a time. We are only human and as such will always be tempted by delights, all these years on and I could still face plant a good homemade Victoria sponge. However a slice of homemade cake from time to time isn’t going to derail everything, just make sure you fully enjoy it!
The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, prevent, cure or treat any disease.