Clean eating: Getting back to basics for health and weight loss

Clean eating is a term thrown around the bodybuilding and fitness competing world quite often. But you don’t have to be Mr. Universe or a swimsuit model to be interested in this healthy eating lifestyle. Clean eating offers a back to basics approach to nutrition. It encourages weight loss and overall health. It is not a fad or a gimmick but rather asks people to simply eat foods closer to their natural state.

So, what is clean eating? A clean diet is a simple diet. It is one that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and proteins. It limits sugars, preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, and unhealthy food preparation. If you were to only shop in the outside aisles of your grocer, you would be eating a pretty clean diet.

Think about the foods you put into your body so far today. How far from their natural state were they? How processed were the ingredients put into your foods? Canned peaches in heavy syrup or a fresh peach? I think it’s obvious which the healthier choice is.

We become so accustomed to eating over-seasoned and over-processed foods that we forget what natural foods taste like. Making the transition to eating more clean foods can be difficult, particularly when you are currently eating a diet rich in foods from the freezer section and the local drive-thru.

Clean eating requires creative thinking for people who are accustomed to a less-than-healthy diet. Foods to watch out for include those that are overly processed or contain refined flour and sugar, foods heavy in saturated and trans fats, fried foods, alcohol, and high-calorie beverages. Try to keep your foods close to their natural state as possible. Forgo fried for grilled, steamed, or baked, and go light on the extras like ketchup, salad dressings, added sugar, and salt.

You don’t have to commit to a 100% clean diet. If you want to, great! However, that just isn’t realistic for many of us. Simply being more conscious about the foods you put in your body can make a big difference. When you eat, ask yourself “What did this food look like in its natural state?” Obviously you don’t want to eat the chicken with the feathers still on, but eating food that is recognizable is a good way to start. As far as I know, there is no Twinkie plant or potato chip tree.

Because clean eating isn’t a diet but a lifestyle change do what works for you in the long term. So many people take an all-or-nothing approach with nutrition. Rather than setting yourself up for failure, try to eat clean 80% of the time. Giving yourself some wiggle room makes a healthy eating plan much more maintainable.

For more information about eating clean including recipes and tips, check out the Clean Eating Club or Clean Eating magazine.


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