Would you be surprised to hear that there really aren’t any health goals you can achieve without it?
The above statement may seem extreme, but the simple truth is, you just cannot get healthy without eating healthy. You can exercise from the time the rooster crows until the cows come home, but if you make a run through your local drive-through afterward, you just are not going to get anywhere fast.
Food is the big-ticket to good health. If you eat garbage, your body will show it. If you eat whole, healthy, and fresh foods, your body, skin, and soul will glow with health that gives you endless energy.
Click Play For An Easy-To-Understand Description Of Clean Eating!!
Three Methods For Following A Clean Eating Diet
Clean eaters all have a different approach to following a clean diet. But generally speaking, there are 3 ways to do that.
Chemicals, additives, pesticides, GMO’s, antibiotics, grown hormones, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and other not-so-natural fake foods seem to rule the grocery store aisles these days. Many people wish to avoid these types of fake food in the interest of improving their health. They aren’t necessarily looking to lose fat, but rather improve or maintain their overall health by simply avoiding these items. They will usually eat either three meals per day or simply eat as the need arises. (This is more and more how I am eating these days). The concept of “eating the rainbow” to ensure a broad variety of vitamins, minerals and just general good general nutrition is the idea here. Clean foods are whole foods, and whole foods are healthy. However, anybody with a health condition should always speak to a registered dietitian for the best eating plan.
(I believe this is the most common/popular method at the moment)
- Eat Lots Of Plants – Eat food that is straight from nature. (Some people say “as close to the way nature made it as possible”. But I think that leaves too much wiggle room – in my humble opinion) Eating mostly foods that are off a tree, bush, plant or vine are your best option. The idea is to stay away from anything that humans (food corporations) have altered in any way.
- Include Meats – Eat meats that are whole and straight from the butcher. Grass-fed is best. Don’t buy pre-packaged meat products because you never know what’s in them. When possible, buy whole meats and grind them yourself. Have you read the ingredients on some packages of ground turkey?! You can also select a few turkey breasts and ask that the butcher grind them for you. Many butchers are more than willing to accommodate.
- Enjoy Grains – Stick to whole grains and haven’t been broken down into a “glue-like” substance. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat and other whole grains.(For a list of foods to stock your pantry with, check out this list.)
- Read Labels I don’t know how many breads I’ve picked up at the store that say they are whole grain. But when I take a look at the ingredient list, white flour is the second ingredient after whole wheat flour!
- Eat Fewer Ingredients. Try not to purchase foods that have more than 3-6 ingredients in the ingredient list as a general rule (although there are always exceptions). And be sure you recognize each and every ingredient. If you find a “mystery ingredient” such as “spices”, contact the company! Ask them what they consider to be spices. If it’s anything other than honest-to-goodness herbs and spices, avoid it. And remember, if you can’t pronounce it, it probably shouldn’t go into your body (yes, there are exceptions here too).
- Eat 5-6 small meals per day. This may seem like a lot at first. But remember, you are eating smaller portions. If you really have a hard time with this, prepare your regular three meals and a snack for the day, and divide lunch and dinner in half. You’ve instantly got 6 small meals!
- Healthy Fat – When I first started eating clean, low fat eating was all the rage and some of my earlier recipes reflect that via the use of egg whites and such. However, as time has gone on, I’ve taken a more “whole foods” approach to clean eating. Keep in mind that healthy fats are critical and not something you should minimized down to the lowest common denominator. So your approach to fats will depend on your approach to eating in general. If you are a low fat eater, then stick with things like egg whites and sautéing food in chicken broth instead of oil. But if you, like me, believe that we need good fats in our diet, then enjoy healthy fats in moderation, including egg yolks and healthy oils such as coconut, olive or grape seed oil..
There is also another method of eating 3 regular meals and squeezing in 1 snack for a total of 4 meals. You eat every four hours instead of every 2-3. This concept is from Jillian Michaels and the theory behind it is that if you eat every 2-3 hours, your insulin stays continuously spiked and you end up with a higher chance of diabetes.
I have no idea if this is actually the case. I’m simply supplying information for you to consider. Do what feels right for you. The Gracious Pantry does not endorse one method over another.
So What Are Whole Foods?
If you aren’t sure what all of this translates to at the grocery store, think about what real food is. Tomatoes, nuts, beans and legumes, avocado, eggs, salmon, chicken, whole grain bread (no white bread), maple syrup or honey instead of sugar, quinoa, coconut oil, real butter, sweet potatoes, carrots, whole-grain pasta, or even just an apple, are all examples of whole, real, clean food.
And before you panic, yes, you can still have desserts.
Many clean eaters will focus on macros. A proper ratio of protein, carbs, and fats. Others will also include fiber in that balance, with calories being a focus too. But macro’s are a whole other blog post.
Clean eating may feel a bit overwhelming at first, especially if you have a lot of changes to make. My advice is to take baby steps. Make little changes every day and don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes. We all do. Just realize that it’s what you do the majority of the time that counts.
If you need a little more general information, here are some more ideas to help get you started.
SIDE NOTE: Many folks who are very accustomed to processed foods have a difficult time with the natural flavors of real food. They claim they don’t like vegetables or anything much that is healthy.
If you are one of these people, I’m here to tell you that over time, your taste buds WILL change. If you start eating this way regularly, you’ll see that eventually, the stuff you used to love just doesn’t taste the same any longer. I’ve even found this to be true with organic foods. There are certain foods I ALWAYS buy organic. On occasion, when these foods become available to my dinner plate in a non-organic version, I can definitely taste the difference! It’s amazing how “numb” our taste buds have become to real foods. Give it time. You’ll learn to love your spinach!
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON GETTING STARTED, VISIT THE CLEAN EATING 101 SECTION OF THIS BLOG.
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