22 January 2018
Clean eating is a simple concept with big benefits. Eating clean brings awareness to where our foods come from, and is a commitment to eating foods with the shortest pathway to our plates.
The aim of clean eating isn’t to count calories or eliminate food groups, but to enjoy the freshest foods with the greatest nutritional value. It emphasizes the enjoyment of preparing and sharing a meal. It’s a path to a healthier lifestyle, one bite at a time.
Below are some basic guides to get you started on a clean-eating lifestyle.
Clean eating begins at your grocery store, farmers market or farm stand. The first step is to become familiar with which foods are sourced locally and what produce is in season. Start by asking your grocers or paying attention to signs in the produce section about how far your fruits, veggies, meat, and fish had to travel to reach you.
Step two is to get in the habit of reading nutrition labels. Eliminate products with more than five ingredients or any ingredients you can’t pronounce out loud.
Start cooking more of your own meals. Eating at home saves calories, reduces salt intake and is wallet-friendly. When you are cooking opt for, steaming, baking, or sautéing your food in order to preserve the nutritional value.
Avoid high-fat cooking methods like, deep-frying or stewing in animal or vegetable fats. Instead, steam or stir-fry to preserve nutritional value. Use olive oil in place of butter when possible, and replace salt with spices, herbs, garlic, and lemon.
Get your fill of low-calorie, nutrient-rich fruits and veggies by eating 2 ½ to 3 cups per day. Diets rich in vegetables and fruits have been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and certain cancers. The optimum cooking method varies by vegetable, with some veggies getting a nutritional boost by cooking and others best when eaten raw.
Products with “whole” in the name still contain the bran and germ (but it’s best to make sure they’re not overly processed because these products often still eliminate much of the nutritional value). While refined products are more processed and are often stripped of their healthy fibre and vitamins.
Pass processed food like white rice, white bread, packaged cookies, crackers, and cakes. Choose whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, oats and brown rice.
Skip candy, soda, pre-packaged cookies, and sweets altogether. Keep in mind that 4 grams of sugar on a food label equals 1 teaspoon of sugar, so 16 grams of sugar is like dumping 4 scoops of sugar in your food.
Read food labels carefully, and pay close attention to foods that contain sneaky sugars, like granola bars, cereal, oatmeal, canned fruit, spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, frozen desserts, fruit juice, lemonade, sports drinks and bottled teas.
Eating clean doesn’t mean eliminating food groups, but eating less meat can help eliminate extra saturated fat from your diet. Get in the habit of eating smaller portions of meat (a serving size is the size of a deck of cards), and filling up on vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Look for locally sourced, organic, free-range, grass-fed animal meat when available and aim for one or two servings of red meat per week.
Eating clean also means drinking clean. Steer clear of sugary mixed drinks, and keep alcohol to an absolute minimum if you need to drink at all.
Remember, eating clean is a lifestyle and not a set of rules. Be patient with yourself but keep informed about what you consume.