Clean eating is not a quick fix extreme diet to lose weight in a short period of time (and to gain it all back once the diet is over). It is a life-style that you can maintain for the rest of your life and it fits families as well.
“Clean eating” has been a movement that started in the 1960’s when processed food was banned rather for moral than health reasons. Since the movement has evolved and clean eating has become a very individualistic approach with no dogma attached. However all followers of this approach agree that processed foods are NOT included. Eating clean for us means to have a balanced diet of fresh, unprocessed food, including vegetables, fruits, grains, some meat and fish, healthy fats and some dairy.
What are the key principles of clean eating?
1) Keep it whole
Eat whole foods as they appear in nature and not going through a laboratory or other manufacturing unit. Examples include fresh fruits, vegetables, grass-fed and free-range meat, egg or dairy, wild-caught fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Fresh, local and organic are the best choices to make, though frozen, or in some rare cases canned food can be acceptable as well.
2) Cook at home
Restaurant food and take-away are always lower in nutrition values as home cooked food. When you cook at home you can be sure about what is on your plate. It can also be a fun activity, especially if you have time to involve your kids as well. They love to help around the kitchen, and learning the basics for cooking would be such a great advantage in their life.
3) No more “white food”
Eliminate refined sugar and white flour from your diet. This includes all standard desserts containing white sugar as well as white pasta, white rice, white bread or pastries. This doesn’t mean that you cannot ever enjoy some sweets. There are great recipes for desserts that are healthy as well.
4) Keep your blood sugar stable
Keeping your blood sugar stable greatly contributes to healthy food choices. When you wait too long between meals or eat processed foods that spike blood sugar – leading to a crash in energy – you’re more likely to reach for sugar, fat, or caffeine to keep your energy up. If you continue this cycle, you’ll always feel irritable and exhausted. If you ensure you eat whole foods every 3 - 4 hours, your blood sugar will remain stable.
You should have 4-5 meals per day: breakfast, snack in the morning and / or afternoon, lunch and dinner. Normally you should feel no hunger at all. Sometimes you interpret cravings as hunger, especially if you used to eat lots of white sugar or white carbohydrates. When hunger strikes – or the craving strikes – drink a big glass of water and evaluate the situation in 10 minutes. If still feeling hungry, eat a handful of nuts or an apple.
5) Eat protein, fat and complex carbohydrates at each meal
You should aim to get a serving from each group at each meal. This will create optimal blood sugar levels and stave off your cravings and brain fog.
Clean eating emphasizes quality over quantity: not all calories are equal. You should not count calories at all! When you stick to whole foods, you will more likely to keep your calorie intake at optimum level.
Whole foods actually fill you up and fuel you, whereas empty calories – like those found in candy and chips – fill a mental craving but don’t physically fill you up. Your mindset will improve when you switch over to whole foods since it’s hard to feel guilty after filling up on genuine nutrients. Whole foods also regulate cholesterol levels and ward off cancer, dementia, and a plethora of other conditions. In addition, the high fiber content of fruits, vegetables, and grains keeps the digestive system in great shape, which is essential to optimal health.
You like the idea of clean eating, but you don’t know where to start? Our Eat Clean and Feel Fabulous recipe e-book has over 70 easy to prepare, super delicious recipes.