Introduction to “Clean Eating”
There’s no doubt that food is at the center of our survival. No one can live without proper nourishment but modern times have led to the development of food options that cause more harm than good. The influx of processed foods have continuously degenerated the health of man, increasing the onset of medical conditions like diabetes, heart problems, and hypertension through obesity.
The concept of eating clean pertains to the conscious effort people make when it comes to choosing the food that they consume. It focuses on selecting whole foods; those which are healthy and unprocessed. It is growing to become one of the hottest trends in the diet and nutrition scene but a closer look would show that the concepts behind it are those which have been based on classic nutrition science.
Unbeknownst to many, the practice has been around since the sixties when the natural health movement took reign as people became more mindful of the unhealthy effects of processed food. Eating well is the first step to a better life. It is not about engaging in a fad diet; it’s about making a complete lifestyle change.
Those who make an effort to eat clean are able to enjoy improved health and maximized energy giving them the ability to engage in and enjoy more experiences along the way. Unlike fad diets, clean eating is rather flexible. This means that the practice is highly adaptable thanks to its realistic demands and expectations. It can easily be applied to one’s daily regimen as there is no calorie counting involved, only smart choices.
People have different reasons as to why they do certain things. Some might engage in clean eating for better health while others see it as a way of addressing their weight issues. There are plenty of benefits that come with this practice, starting with mindfulness.
Fast food is called fast food not only because it is prepared in a short amount of time but also because people consume it quickly. Imagine eating a meal at a local burger joint and compare it with eating a nice bowl of salad. The latter will take a longer amount of time, allowing the diner to eat with purpose. Being able to slow down during simple things like having a meal enables a person to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily living. Even if it is only for a short span of time, it is enough for the individual to recharge and clear his head. It allows mindfulness to take effect. People who are mindful make better decisions as they assess situations with clarity. One can also apply his improved decision-making skills to his diet, choosing healthier options instead of sugary snacks, thereby leading to potential weight loss.
As mindfulness improves, so does overall brain function. Fruits and vegetables have beneficial effects,including nourishing the brain making people smarter and shaper. As time passes, not only will people’s decisions become firmer but their sense of memory will also get stronger. It is a known fact that everyone becomes exposed to forgetfulness as the aging process progresses so this is an excellent method of counteracting its effects.
The misconception with eating clean is that its demands, whole foods and the like, lead to increased food costs. Although there is some truth to this, people who adopt a clean eating lifestyle are able to save money in the long run. As people eat healthier, they save on medical bills.
They also earn more by avoiding sick days at work. Although a bit more is spent on ingredients, planning meals is a cost-effective practice. Savings can also be generated as people choose to cook their own meals instead of ordering take-out or dining in fancy restaurants. For those who want to save even more without compromising the quality of their food, buying from weekend markets, farmers ’ markets, is a good idea to consider.
As the body is fueled with nutrition and vitamin rich food items, it improves overall function over time. One of the benefits that come with clean eating is a spike in energy. It is a known fact that the consumption of processed foods make people lethargic. This just shows how bad they are for the system.
Clean eating serves to reverse the effects of the former. For example, taking in natural sugars from fruits as compared to consuming artificial sweeteners provides as instant dose of energy without any impending crashes later on in the day.
Losing weight does not solely depend on a person engaging in regular physical activity. One’s ability to shed the pounds also depends on the kinds of food he or she consumes.
Carbohydrates and sugars, when consumed in excess, turn to fat storages. The same goes for saturated fats. Lean meats promote the build- up of lean muscle. Muscles work by increasing metabolism, the capacity of and speed by which energy (from carbohydrates and fats) is burned by the body.
Meat in general is not that bad but there are those which are laced in fats. This is why clean eating is specific to the consumption of lean meats.
These provide diners with their daily protein needs without exposing them to excess fat. It is with this that the lifestyle promotes the formation of lean muscle followed by an increase in one’s metabolism. The faster the metabolism, the easier it will be for a person to lose weight. The leaner the muscle, the stronger a person will be.
There are certain foods that increase sexual interest and performance, and most of these are part of the clean eating diet. Something as simple as eating healthier meals can make an individual a rock star in bed.
Studies show that men and women from various parts of Europe and the Mediterranean have and enjoy better sex lives primarily because of the components in their eating regimen.
It is a known fact that the core ingredients of Mediterranean-style cooking include an assortment of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, healthy oils, and lean meats, all of which are recommended by the clean eating concept.
Healthy people live longer, plain and simple. Although there are other external factors that can affect the quality of one’s health (examples would be pollution, stress, and the like), someone who eats clean has the ability to reduce the effects of harmful elements and chemicals to the body.
There is ample research showing that a regular diet combining the three primary components of fruits, vegetable, and whole grains can easily lengthen one’s life span.
Clean eating does not only promote longevity by helping the body regenerate and counteract the effects of harmful external elements. It also helps people live longer by reducing the onset of potentially life- threatening medical conditions, from diabetes to heart attacks and cancer.
Why do so many people fall victim to overeating? The answer is simple. Eating habits are closely linked to emotion. It has been said that the mood people are in correspond to what they eat.
Eat good foods and be in better moods. This is what clean eating wants to promote. By improving the kinds of foods that enter the system, it is possible for people to improve how they feel during the day.
A good mood is generally followed by positive thinking.
It allows for better brain function leading to an increased sense of productivity. Being in a good mood is not only beneficial to the person but to those around him as well. Someone in a good mood is more likely able to influence others to be happy.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
These days, more people are becoming mindful of how their actions affect the environment. Aside from helping resolve issues with over-consumption, pollution, and the like, support for the green movement can also be coursed through the preference for better ingredients.
A significant consumption of fuel, time, energy, and other resources are part of the equation to bring food from farms to markets. Clean eating does not only support choosing better ingredients but also the patronizing of seasonal produce. Local and seasonal food supplies take less time to cultivate and
transport and thereby consumes fewer resources. By choosing these food items over others, a person can easily reduce his or her carbon footprint.
Eating clean offers a number of advantages including weight loss, strength development, increased libido, energy boost, mindfulness, and so on and so forth.
The body is able to regenerate, an individual will start feeling better day after day, more so he or she will love seeing their reflection in the mirror.
All of the perks of a healthy lifestyle lead to things that boost confidence: a sound mind and a sound body. As one’s confidence builds up, he or she is enabled to pursue new challenges in life, opening more opportunities for growth.
How to Eat Clean
Eating clean does not only involve improving one’s eating habits but maintaining these changes over time.
It concentrates on the selection of the best options from each food group and incorporating these into one’s daily diet regimen.
It involves consuming more of the healthier options: embracing fruits and vegetables; prioritizing whole grains; choosing lean meats and healthy fats; and eating the rest in moderation – salt, saturated fats, refined sugar – if not completely eliminating them.
As time passed, the concepts of clean eating have been refined. These days, it is identified through the combination of several core tenets.
Consuming Processed Foods in Moderation
Processed foods, simply put, are food items which have been physically manipulated and treated to achieve a prolonged shelf life. These offer convenience in such a way that they drastically cut back on preparation and cooking times, considering that most are ready to eat, allowing consumers to have quick and filling meals at any time of the day.
There are processed foods that are not that bad like frozen vegetables for example but there are others which are laden with fat, sugar and sodium plus preservation chemicals that can have a detrimental effect on the body over time.
The thing about these kinds of food items is that if the ingredients list on the package are full of components that only a Scientist can comprehend, more often than not it would be best to steer clear of them.
The main issue here is not processed foods per se but those which are categorized as ultra-processed. These contain genetically modified organisms and are more artificial than natural.
Excellent examples are sodas, candy bars, and items that carry ready-to-eat labels. Most, if not all of these, are classified as lab developed and not farm grown. The problem with ultra-processed food items is that they carry little to no nutritional value as this has been stripped off during the preparation process.
GMOs, preservatives, and other modifying agents do not only heighten the potential onslaught of health hazards but also perpetuate a cycle of cravings for junk food.
Valuing Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are integral when it comes to achieving a balanced nutrition.
These are full of vitamins and nutrients which help improve overall bodily function from improving one’s sense of sight to ensuring that one’s bones stay healthy and strong. These also work by helping people feel full for a longer amount of time.
This is because they contain healthy fibers and carry a low glycemic index. Most fruits and vegetables have low caloric counts, allowing people to eat more without adding unwanted poundage.
Since fruits have fructose, it is still important for proper portion control to be practiced. For vegetables, an individual can eat up to three cups of them without any feeling of guilt. Green leafy options work excellently, cooked or raw.
Choosing Whole Grains
As you know by now, I have lost a lot of weight using the beyond diet program. And though the program DOES NOT actually promote eating grains, I personally differ.
You see, grains come in different forms. Some are processed while others are not. Tougher as they are to prepare, the latter, whole grains, remains to be the far better option for those who want to adopt a clean eating lifestyle. When grains are processed, essential components like the bran and germ are removed. These are rich in fiber in nutrients but end up in factory bins or are recycled as animal feed.
Carbohydrates have been given this connotation as a weight enhancing food component but in reality, good carbohydrates help facilitate weight loss.
Processed carbohydrates easily transform to sugar and when un-burned through exercise or any physical activity turn into fat stores.
Good carbohydrates, unprocessed carbohydrates, are rich in fiber. Aside from helping people digest better, these allow for lower body mass indexes as well. Eating these types of carbohydrates also help reduce the formation of belly fat.
Clean eating involves focusing on unprocessed grains and cutting out bad carbs like white flour. By consuming whole instead of processed grains, people are able to take full advantage of the vitamins and minerals that come from these foods. Quinoa, bulgur, oats, whole wheat, and brown rice are excellent options to consider.
Preferring Lean Meats
Lean meats come with less fat but have an adequate amount of protein which the body needs to build muscle. Clean eating promotes muscle buildup as this does not only make people stronger, but also helps them lose weight faster by increasing their metabolism.
The faster the metabolism, the faster it is for the body to burn energy stores from fat and sugar.
Although lean meats (especially the white meat of chicken) and seafood are encouraged, proper portion control is still important as protein should only constitute a small part of one’s overall food intake. For a balanced meal with vegetables and whole grains, the lean meat should only measure in at about the same size as a deck of cards.
Cutting Down on Saturated Fats and Supporting Healthy Fats
Fats are essential and the clean eating lifestyle does not say that they should be avoided completely. What people have to steer clear from is the excessive consumption of saturated fats. This is the kind of fat that easily hardens and causes blockages in various parts of the body over time.
A clean eater can still enjoy meals that carry an adequate content of fat but those which are considered as healthy fats like omega-3 from fish and seed oils.
Healthy fats work by raising HDL cholesterol which is the kind of cholesterol that should be focused on. It helps reduce the onset of heart ailments caused by saturated fats. Aside from the latter, trans fats should also be avoided. These are artificially-developed fats usually found in junk food like potato chips.
Cutting Down on Refined and Artificial Sugars
The body needs a bit of sugar to function. Sugar can fuel the mind and keep a person awake, alert, or energetic. Taken in excessive amounts, it can easily cause weight gain and potentially lead to the development of serious health conditions like diabetes.
The problem with most people today is that they consume too much sugar on a daily basis usually from fast food, junk food, and the like. In fact, many so called “natural drinks” like that (in)famous pink drink are full of sugar. When it comes to sugar, one’s daily consumption should not exceed 8 teaspoons. As clean eating helps reduce the intake of processed foods, it also fosters the reduction in sugar intake.
This does not mean that artificial sweeteners are any better. Actually, they cause more harm to the body than refined sugar as the former is made from an assortment of chemical compounds. Recent studies show that some of the compounds used in artificial sweeteners are not even edible.
Drinking More Water but Taking it Easy on the Alcohol
Clean eating does not only focus on improving what a person eats but also what he or she drinks. Water is very important in this case. It is suggested that at least two liters of water be consumed on a daily basis. This cleanses the body from toxins and hydrates it to achieve full function.
Aside from sodas and other sugary drinks, the concept encourages a reduction in alcohol intake. Clean eating is not about banning alcohol completely. It focuses on teaching people to have the discipline to drink it in moderation. There are recommended limits that they should be mindful of. The standard limits for various types of alcohol are as follows: 12 ounces for beer, 1.5 ounces for liquor, and 5 ounces for wine per drink.
In moderation, especially when it comes to wine, alcohol is actually good for the heart but it can have detrimental effects on the body when taken in excess. Alcohol has the tendency of dehydrating the body and drinkers can easily put on weight without them noticing.
Watching Out for Sodium
Salt is probably the most popular spice in the world as it is used to season all kinds of food. Although salt can be good for the system, too much sodium is not. Salt causes the body to retain instead of expel water,easily leading to bloat. Taken in large amounts, sodium has the capacity to increase one’s blood pressure.
The healthy daily maximum intake for sodium is 2300 mg but many go past this amount even before lunchtime.
Aside from avoiding junk foods that are laden with sodium, a good alternative when adapting to the clean eating lifestyle is to use other spices or types of seasoning when preparing meals. Herbs and citruses serve as excellent alternatives.
Clean eating does not have to be difficult or costly. It has more bad connotations attached to it then the many benefits the lifestyle offers. I hope with this (rather long) post, I have been able to convince you to try this method of eating.
Ciao for now, maybe I’ll do another post later on some practical clean eating tips… until then, I’ll see ya…