What IS ‘Eating Clean’?
Eating clean is a rather simple and elegant concept. Whole, unprocessed foods are highly emphasized- especially fresh in season produce. Processed foods- those requiring an ingredient label- should be avoided as much as possible. White refined sugar, the cause of so many metabolic disorders and diseases, should be avoided at all costs.
In general, processed foods to be avoided include ones that are mass produced with an eye for industrial-grade consistency. Compounding the blandly reproduced nature of these foods is the fact that chemical emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives are added to them to ensure long shelf life and consistency.
None of these things are what the human body was designed to digest. The end result of consuming all these unnatural products can be seen in everyday America: obesity, heart disease, and metabolic disorders.
Eating clean doesn’t just cover the kind of foods that should be the cornerstones of nutrition. How you eat is of immense importance, too. The classic concept of ‘three square meals’ a day should be swapped out in favor of five or six small, well balanced mini-meals.
These ideally would contain balanced healthy components from carbs, fats, and proteins to better fuel your body and increase metabolism.
Fresh meals, made from scratch and consumed all day, every day is the ultimate ideal- but this is meant to be a functional part of life and not intended to be a prison sentence. Some flexibility allows for inevitable missteps without negative consequence; but the more consistently you eat clean, the larger the benefits you reap.
Interestingly, there are strong mental and social facets included in the eating clean ideal: food is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated. Social meals are highly valued where the spirit is fueled as much as the body, and joyful attention should be paid to the food consumed.
These two extra, non-food-based components allow for greater awareness and support especially during the change over period. Accountability and support during lifestyle changes have long been proven to improve overall trends of success, and this is no exception.
What Does It Do?
By focusing on simple, fresh, nutritious foods it becomes easier to ensure that adequate vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed for optimal functioning are included every day. These simple components are combined in tasty meals that emphasize the importance of flavor accentuation from fresh herbs and natural spices, rather than processed sauces and additives.
Taking a few dietary steps back in the past ensures that even these small meals stay more satisfying for a longer time, leading to better weight maintenance and avoidance of weight-related disease. The longer a carefully planned, balanced diet like this is maintained the less likely that refined sugar products will be tempting.
In fact, it is likely that these processed sweets will taste overwhelmingly and unpleasantly sugary. Additional systemic benefits impact the circulatory and digestive systems, balancing blood sugar fluctuations, decreasing ‘bad’ cholesterol, and regulating healthy excretion.
How Do I Start?
The brilliant concept behind this diet is that it is not a diet; rather, it is a lifestyle change. Because of this, it can be relatively simple to either jump in with both feet or to ease into a few solidly clean eating habits gradually. Over time, all of the goals of a clean eating plan can be incorporated smoothly into normal eating habits- with the end result of a slow, steady progression to a healthier end result.
Caloric load is of lesser importance with this eating plan because the unprocessed, whole, delicious foods included don’t generally cause weight and fitness issues. This concept is rather refreshing and liberating; instead of obsessing over every mouthful, one can feast fearlessly on fresh options with the ultimate goal being a proper range of nutritional requirements, adequate fiber and water intake, and mindful enjoyment of food.
Who Can do Do It?
This is the easy part. Unless instructed by a physician to avoid certain otherwise healthy foods (some blood pressure medication has adverse interactions with grapefruit and grapefruit juice, for example), just about everyone can assimilate at least part of this fantastic concept into their daily eating.
Attention to detail is essential, but clean eating can be applied successfully to allergen avoidance diets, ones that monitor excessive fat or carb content, or ones that require extra nutritional loading in the form of vitamins or minerals. Very few people could argue that eating less processed sugar, eating more vegetables, and drinking more water is a harmful philosophy to structure a daily food plan around.