Clean eating is a term used by websites, blogs, grocery stores, restaurants, and anyone focused on a healthy lifestyle and diet. And at Shaklee we recommend eating clean, especially if you have accepted the Prove It Challenge™to kick-start a healthy lifestyle. But what does “clean eating” actually mean, and why is it so beneficial to your health and well-being? Let’s break it down.
How Clean Eating Works
Clean eating simply means to eat minimally processed, real foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. It is a diet that emphasizes fresh, whole foods that give you the most nutritional benefits.. As a general rule, the more highly processed a food is, the fewer nutrients are preserved in that food.
To help you start eating clean, here are a few basic principles you can follow:
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables form the foundation of a clean eating lifestyle because they are whole foods that require little to no preparation. Plus, they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. And the best thing you can do to get the most nutritional benefit is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables raw after picking and washing.
- Choose protein options from ethically raised animals.
In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, you can make good choices when it comes to meat. You’ll want to limit your consumption of processed meats like hot dogs, nuggets, and patties and choose fresh, recognizable cuts of meat. Also, meat from animals raised humanely or on small farms tends to have more nutrients. For example, cows that are fed their natural diet of grass have been shown to have more omega-3 fats and antioxidants than grain-fed beef.
- Limit heavily processed foods.
While many foods involve at least some processing, heavily processed foods like fast food and packaged dinners contain preservatives, chemicals, and added sugars. Also, foods tend to lose fiber and nutrients when they’re processed, so even if there are few or no unhealthy ingredients, they still lack the benefits of whole foods.
- Read food labels.
It’s hard to get away from packaged food completely, but a great thing you can remember to do is read the labels. Check to see how many ingredients are on the label and if there are any preservatives, added sugars, or unhealthy fats. It’s best to look for food with mostly natural ingredients and as few ingredients as possible.
- Avoid added sugars when you can.
Added sugar is very common in sweets, sauces, dressings, and condiments. Depending on your overall health, sugar can contribute to a number of health concerns, and it’s best to avoid it as much as you can. When it comes to clean eating, try to eat foods in their natural, unsweetened state, or eat small amounts of natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
It’s okay to grab a drink every now and then, but alcohol is a processed drink made by fermenting grains, fruits, or vegetables. Certain types of alcohol like wine may have some health benefits, but an excess amount can promote inflammation and lead to other health problems. Drink responsibly and in moderation!
- Make water your go-to beverage.
Water is the most natural thing you can drink, with no additives, sugars, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners. Water is essential to all kinds of bodily functions and your overall health, and it is widely recommended to drink at least 8 cups a day.
A quick way to start eating clean is by taking the 30-day Prove It Challenge™, with the first 7 days of the challenge consisting of a healthy cleanse and a diet full of fruits and vegetables. You can also use these principles to modify your existing diet to be cleaner and more focused on promoting your health. Give it a try!