“Eating Clean”, these two words have been cropping up almost everywhere these days.
Be it at social gatherings or social media, this fad is slowly but surely gaining momentum among people.
This kind of food lifestyle is getting popularity especially amongst people who are super conscious of what they eat.
Eating clean essentially means the consumption of the best and healthiest items in each of the food groups. It also includes lowering consumption or altogether giving up of the not so healthy ones.
This means the increasing of foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins and fats. One has to also reduce the consumption of refined grains, table sugar and unhealthy trans or saturated fats.
It is also considered easier to start and stick to this form of eating. This is because this form of eating does not involve giving up of any food group altogether. It is about choosing the healthiest option of the lot.
The essence of clean eating is the consumption of food in its natural, undisturbed and unadulterated state.
The meal plan of a clean eater would generally comprise of five to six meals a day. Out of these, three would be breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the other two could be snacks in between.
It could include lean protein, a complex carbohydrate, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. This helps balance all nutrients and enzymes in the body. This helps in burning fat efficiently and keeping the body energized all day long.
The basic tenet of clean eating is to stick to only organic product, supplemented by meats, dairy and eggs.
Clean eating also involves a minimum 2 litre water consumption every day and limiting the alcohol intake to a minimum.
The biggest antagonists to clean eating are saturated and trans fats. Hence friend foods and sugar enriched food items are a strict no.
Other items that need to be avoided are: preservatives, toxic binders, emulsifiers, stabilizers, colour additives and fat replacers.
Processed and refined food are also to be avoided and hence the consumption of white flour, bread and pasta should also be kept to a bare minimum, if not completely avoided.
It is also recommended to pre-define an adequate portion before starting a meal and then staying within the portion so decided.
IS CLEAN EATING A ‘MYTH’?
Every diet or fitness article or gyming manual lists certain foods as ‘bad’ foods that are not to be eaten under any circumstance.
These foods should be avoided like the plague in order to attain the chiselled and toned body that appears on the cover of all these fitness magazines.
Foods can also be ‘bad’ based on the person you are talking to.
For example, a vegetarian will say all sorts of meats are bad; a vegan will say all animal products are bad; a Paleo will say all grains, legumes, dairy, refined oils, added salt, sugar, and alcohol are bad; and so on.
There can, hence, be no universal definition of ‘bad’ foods. Every food has a different effect on the body and hence it becomes difficult to shun certain foods as ‘bad’ foods.
The basic three ways in which a food may adversely affect the body is by:
1. Contributing to the calorie content of the body leading to health problems from being overweight.
2. Causing nutrient deficiencies by excessively diluting the nutrients.
3. Interfering with the bodily functions causing diseases or decay.
As far as the calorie content is concerned, fat loss is ultimately about calories consumed and calories burned. There is lack of substantial evidence that the consumption or non-consumption of a particular food leads to weight loss.
All claims about any food can be refuted. Any food high in calories is bad and there is no particular food group that needs to be banned for it.
You are free to decide the source of your calories as long as you are okay with the amount of calories in it.
As for the nutrients being diluted, just as with calories, you know about the type and amount of each nutrient that is present in a particular food and the level of it that is essential to the body.
As long as you maintain those levels you are free to choose what food you eat to maintain those levels.
As for the third point, as I mentioned earlier, a food bad for one person may not be bad to another and there are very little food items that directly damage the body.
As long as those are avoided, one should be fine and need not give up on the entire eating process as he knows it.