Fad diets come and go. One diet will extol the benefits of cutting fat, and then the next big thing comes along claiming the exact opposite. So you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking that clean eating is just another trend that’ll eventually fall out of favor.
However, clean eating isn’t a diet, but rather a style of eating that emphasizes the quality of the foods you eat, not how much you eat or when you eat. In fact, clean eating isn’t even a new concept. Long before the days of processed foods, pesticides, hormones and GMOs, people ate food directly from the source with minimal processing—that is outside of cooking.
Clean eating allows you to take back control of what you put into your body. High-quality, whole and ideally organic foods replace those covered in pesticides, engineered or produced in massive factories.
The highly-processed foods that line the shelves of your local grocery store are loaded with calories, added sugars and ingredients that only scientists can pronounce, yet lack many beneficial nutrients. These foods are linked to obesity, low-energy levels and an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and in some cases, cancer. Many of these low-quality foods are also treated with pesticides or contain genetically modified ingredients, both of which carry potential health risks—not to mention a significant environmental toll.
Clean eating nourishes your body with healthy and nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed meats and hormone-free dairy. Consistently eating clean foods fills your body with plentiful vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein and healthy fats, which improve heart and brain health, assist with weight management, build a stronger immune system and increase energy levels, among other benefits.
That said, clean eating is not a strategy for losing weight. Plenty of foods that are considered clean are high in calories and won’t help you shed extra fat. So if you’re attempting to lose weight, don’t let the “clean” label give you a false sense of security when deciding what to put on your plate.
So how do you eat clean? It’s quite simple. Here are three tips to make your transition to clean eating seamless as possible.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store Clean foods are typically found along the perimeter of grocery stores. Spend most of your time in the produce section, stocking up on a wide variety of colorful and healthy fruits and vegetables. Opt for organic foods—especially meat, dairy and produce on the dirty dozen list—when possible.
- 2) Read labels If you venture down your grocery store’s aisles, make sure to read food labels. Check the ingredient list and avoid any product with ingredients that you're not familiar with or can’t pronounce. The fewer the ingredients, the better. Also, check for added sugars listed under carbohydrates. An item as basic as a pasta sauce can have as much as 100 grams of sugar in a single jar!
- Cook The easiest way to eat clean? Cook your own food. That way you have total control over your ingredients and can be certain that your meals are indeed clean. Cooking also helps you avoid items that masquerade as health foods but are far from it. For example, many alleged healthy juices found at grocery stores come loaded with sugar and cheap ingredients. It’s far better to buy your own ingredients and use your Vitamix to blend delicious, clean juices that are full of healthy nutrients.