Thursday, October 23, 2014

Clean Eating: What's it all about?

Several years ago, I begin hearing the term "clean eating" used in health food markets. Of course, I was intrigued. I began doing some research. I learned that this term dated back to the mid 1990's when grocery chains were starting to "clean up" store brand ingredient lists by removing
unrecognizable terms. Consumers were starting to pay attention to how foods were made, what they were made of and health food stores were attracting more and more customers. Today, two decades later, clean eating, or eating clean, is a major movement, spurred by people from all walks of life who want to feel good about what they're putting in their bodies.

What is clean eating?

Clean eating is a great way to refresh your eating habits. It's about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups and less of the not-so-healthy ones. That simply means embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats. 

How do I eat clean?

1. Limit processed foods.
Many processed foods are full of excess sodium, sugar and fat. An easy way to clean up your diet is to look at the ingredient list on packaged foods. READ THE LABEL!!!! If the list is long or includes lots of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, try to stay away from it!
In my opinion not everything that comes out of a box, bag or can is bad for you. For example, baby spinach and chickpeas are both “clean” packaged foods. They are minimally processed and provide nutrients like fiber and vitamins.

2. Eat more veggies. 
Vegetables are full of vitamins and are also high in heart-healthy fiber, which helps you feel full.
Plus, veggies are low in calories, so you can eat lots of them without increasing your waistline. Fresh vegetables are essential. They are unprocessed! The recommended daily amount for most adults is 2½ to 3 cups. To make sure you get your fill, try carrots and hummus for a snack, start your meal with a salad, or try adding vegetables to your breakfast.

3. Cut down on saturated fats.
You don’t have to cut out fats when you’re eating clean; instead just focus on healthy fats. You can swap out saturated fats (like those in butter, cheese and meat) for healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil and the kind found in nuts and fish such as tuna, salmon or trout. These fats are good for your heart and can help raise your good HDL cholesterol. Need help identifying fats? Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. To cut back on saturated fat in your diet, try these simple swaps: top your salad with nuts instead of cheese, use peanut or almond butter instead of cream cheese and replace mayonnaise with avocado on a sandwich.

4. Limit your alcohol intake.

Having a cleaner diet also includes cleaning up what you drink. You can still have alcohol, but stay within the recommended limit. Too much alcohol dehydrates you and adds excess calories to your diet. Stay away of mixed drinks with lots of added sugar.
5. Un-sweeten your diet.
Most people consume too much added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men. So let's be honest....the average person consumed 3 to 4 times the recommended amount in beverages alone. To clean up your diet, cut down on added sugars in your diet by limiting sweets like soda, candy and baked goods. Also keep an eye on sugars added to healthy foods like yogurt (choose plain varieties with no added sugar), tomato sauce and cereal. Look for foods without sugar as an ingredient, or make sure it’s listed towards the bottom, which means less of it is used in the food.
6. Watch the Salt.
Eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure. Many Americans eat more than the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day (that’s about one teaspoon of salt). Sodium is everywhere! It even hides in food items we think are healthy; like salad dressing. Try making your own. Its super simple and inexpensive. Cutting back on processed foods will help you reduce your salt intake, as most packaged foods contain more sodium than homemade versions. To help minimize salt while you cook, flavor your food with herbs and spices, citrus and vinegar.
7. Choose whole grains.

Whole grains include more nutrients than refined grains because the bran and germ are not removed. Look for the word “whole” with the first ingredient in breads and pastas—for example, make sure it says “whole wheat,” not just “wheat.” Outside of whole wheat, choose whole grains like quinoa, oats and brown rice. 
8. Eat less meat.
Eating clean doesn’t mean giving up on meat entirely, but eating less meat can help eliminate extra saturated fat from your diet. A serving of meat is just 3 ounces (the size of a deck of cards)—but portions served at resteraunts and even at home tend to be larger than that. Try serving vegetarian proteins like beans, tempeh or tofu on some nights and bulking up smaller portions of meat by serving it in soups or stir-fries.
9. Eat more fruit.

Fruit has been nicknamed “nature’s candy” for good reason—it’s naturally sweet and delicious. Fruit is also rich in potassium, which can help keep blood pressure in check, and vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system. And just like vegetables, fresh fruits are whole, unprocessed foods. Frozen, canned and dried fruit is minimally processed and can be a great clean-eating choice as well. Just double-check the ingredient list to be sure that there is no sugar added, and look for fruit canned in its own juice. The recommended amount of fruit for most adults is 1½ to 2 cups per day. To make sure you get the added heart-health and weight loss benefits of fiber, choose whole fruits over fruit juice.
10. Eliminate refined grains.
Cutting out white flour and refined grains is an easy way to eat cleaner. Refined grains are more processed and often stripped of beneficial nutrients like magnesium, selenium and fiber. Plus, they’re typically found in unhealthy packaged foods, like baked goods and junk foods that may also deliver added sugars, saturated fats and extra sodium. Skip the packaged refined carbs like cookies, crackers and cakes altogether, and also swap white rice, white bread and white pasta for brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta.
Hopefully, this info has inspired you to adopt the clean eating lifestyle. Of course, nothing happens overnight and this is indeed a process. I promise you will see the benefits in the longrun.

No comments:

Post a Comment