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What is Clean Eating – How to Eat Clean
In light of the unhealthy modern lifestyle that has basically become the standard nowadays, many people are turning towards certain dieting solutions with the goal of taking care of their overall health. One of the most popular is definitely clean eating. So what is clean eating, anyway? The basic idea is that, instead of counting your total calories, proteins, sugars, fats etc., you should simply a healthier diet by avoiding processed foods, and substituting them with whole foods, both raw and cooked. It’s a giant misconception that clean eating means eating a fully raw plant-only diet, but it does try to incorporate a lot of the raw foods that would lose the majority of their nutrients if cooked.
Now, this sounds like a simple concept on paper, but in reality it’s quite a bit tricky, especially since processed foods are becoming more and more popular nowadays. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find unprocessed or minimally processed foods in grocery stores, and they tend to be rather pricey since it’s much harder to mass produce unprocessed food.
The Issue with Processed Foods
Everyone keeps saying that you should avoid processed foods at all costs, but not many of them actually focus on the actual reason behind it. A processed food is any type of food that has additives of any kind, or has gone through a process that altered it in any shape or form. This can include sugar, salt, fat and most importantly, preservatives to keep it from spoiling too quickly. However, processing can also mean that the food has been pumped up with extra vitamins, which is not necessarily a bad thing and is what a lot of cereal companies do with their products, for example. Making bread from wheat is also a kind of processing, and generally any food that has to go through a procedure to change its natural form is considered processed.
As you can see, this doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, you just have to learn to recognize when food has been processed in a way that can be detrimental to your health, and that means you need to look for any unhealthy additives and preservatives.
So in short, it’s all about how a certain food is processed; there’s nothing wrong with drinking pasteurized milk or a loaf of bread (in fact, whole-grain bread is rather good for you), but that deep-fried doughnut you’ve been eyeing is definitely something you should skip altogether.
The Advantages of Eating Clean
There have been numerous studies on the very debate of processed vs. natural foods, and ultimately they’ve all come to the same conclusion that people who stick to natural foods live healthier, longer lives with less chronic health conditions they have to worry about. Examples of conditions that eating excess processed foods can cause are high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and all sorts of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, research has also shown that people who incorporate more vegetables and fruits into their diets are less likely to be obese and more likely to have healthy hair and skin.
Foods You Should (and Shouldn’t) Eat
So now you know that you’ve freed yourself of the misconception that all processed foods are bad, there are indeed a lot of things that you can incorporate into your diet. Some great examples of completely unprocessed foods are:
• Fresh vegetables and fruits
These foods are up for grabs at all times and you can hardly have enough of them, so it’s best that you introduce as much of them as you can into your everyday diet. There are also some semi-processed foods that are perfectly fine for you to have, such as:
• Frozen fruits and vegetables (certain studies have shown that frozen veggies can actually hold more nutrients than fresh ones, if they were frozen while they were fresh)
• Dairy (hormone-free)
• Unprocessed meat (wild or pastured)
• Unrefined grains such as brown rice
As you can see, there are a lot of choices for you even once you start avoiding processed foods. It might take a bit more planning and logistics, but ultimately it’s something that you can quickly get used to.
It’s not enough just to be able to choose the foods that are good for you, it also takes some skill in order to prepare them and get all the nutritional benefit out of your new diet. This is something that should be handled with care, as certain foods lose their nutritional value when cooked, while others actually become more nutritious. For example, cooking a carrot releases the beta-carotene inside of it and makes it easier for our bodies to digest it, essentially increasing the nutritional value.
On the other hand, a lot of the foods that contain vitamin C are best consumed as raw as possible, as heating them up will inevitably cause them to lose the essential vitamins inside.
There are a couple of things that you need to note when preparing vegetables that are prone to nutrient loss. It’s best to cook the vegetables as soon as possible after cutting them, since a lot of the nutrients can be destroyed simply by being exposed to light and air, and the more they’re cut up, the larger the total area of exposure is.
For that same reason, it’s sometimes a good idea to cut the veggies into large pieces instead of small ones. And finally, since nutrients are lost because they’re leached into the water, using as little water as possible limits this process, so more nutrients remain within the vegetables themselves.
Now you know just about all you need to about clean eating and healthy diets, and are ready to start incorporating raw and mostly unprocessed foods into your diet, and dumping the overly processed ones. I highly recommend that you check out the Sun Basket Service (check out one of these Sun Basket gourmet reviews to see what it’s all about), as it will make shopping for healthy groceries significantly easier for you. Here’s to health and longevity!
Monica Nichols is a 32-year-old writer and fashion designer from Omaha, Nebraska. When she’s not writing for www.diet.st, she enjoys ice skating and watching old movies.