By Betty Murray
You’ve probably heard about clean eating, but what are clean diets really all about?
A clean diet is one that is less focused on calorie count, and more on the kind of food you put into your mouth. “Clean” foods are the best and healthiest foods available, such as organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, and healthy proteins and fats. Eating clean means cutting back on processed and refined foods, sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.
Another way to look at eating clean is by focusing on eating “real” foods. Eating foods in their most natural, whole state is the best way to eat clean. As a general rule of thumb, you can’t find it in the outside aisles of the grocery store, it’s probably not considered “clean.” Unlike other diets, eating clean does not require you to cut out an entire food group; it’s simply about making the healthiest choices within each food group.
By eating clean, you are eliminating additives and preservatives that contribute to both illness and weight gain.
Tips to eat clean
Ready to start cleaning up your diet? Here are a few tips:
• Avoid processed foods. Read the ingredient label on the back of any food you buy (better yet, buy whole foods that are the ingredient themselves, rather than foods that require a label). If you do purchase packaged foods, steer clear of any foods with a long list of ingredients or ingredients you cannot pronounce. Processed foods are also the source of most of our excess calories, fat, sugar, and salt. By cutting out processed foods and eating real foods instead, you’ll also reduce your intake of sugar, salt, and fat.
• Eat more fruits and veggies. Fresh, organic produce is the foundation of a clean diet. Fruits and vegetables are packed full of vitamins and nutrients you need for a healthy body. Vegetables are low in calorie, and high in fiber, helping you feel full longer.
• Stick to healthy fats. Cut your intake of saturated fats and stick to healthy fats instead. When cooking, use extra virgin olive oil or organic coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. Healthy fats help to raise the HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). Healthy fats are also found in avocado, nuts, and fatty fish like salmon.
• Watch what you drink. Eliminate sugary drinks (even diet sodas) from your diet, and cut back on alcohol. One alcoholic drink (wine, liquor, or beer) per day for women and two for men is generally acceptable on a clean diet. Mixed drinks, however, contain large amounts of suger, so stick to wine, liquor, or beer instead.
• Eat whole grains. If you are going to eat grains, be sure you are eating whole grains, rather than refined grains. Whole grains have more nutrients and still contain the bran and germ, unlike refined grains. Other non-wheat options of whole grains include quinoa, oats, and brown rice.
• Eat less meat. You don’t have to cut meat out of your diet altogether, but you should reduce the amount of meat you eat on a daily basis. A healthy serving of meat is just three ounces (many restaurant portions are three to five times this size!) When eating meat, it’s also important to look for organic, grass fed meat, as this will contain fewer antibiotics and chemicals than other meat.
Eating clean isn’t difficult, but like any diet, it does require diligence. Eating clean can be hard work as it almost always requires preparing a meal at home, rather than enjoying a ready-made meal. Use these steps to get started on a clean diet in 2015.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals