What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating gets thrown around a lot these days. It might sound or seem like a simple theory and I guess it really is. The challenge of course with eating clean is life gets in the way. We basically live on temptation island and that temptation is good. Let’s not lie to ourselves.
If you’re anything like me though, you feel better when you eat better. I guess there’s something to that say, you are what you eat? I’m a giant tortilla? Soft and fluffy! I don’t know..maybe? Anyway, let’s talk more about what clean eating actually means.
Clean eating is not a diet but a “way of life” (I know, that’s cheesy..but it’s true!). Basically, the idea is eliminating ultra-processed and refined foods from your diet. You want to choose foods that are in their most natural state (or very close to it). I think it’s a great way to approach food because there are so many foods you can eat! Most diets put too much emphasis on what you can’t eat and that can become overwhelming or intimidating. Clean eating is a simple, straight forward approach to the way we eat.
So, let’s address grocery shopping. An easy trick for clean grocery shopping is shop around the store’s perimeter. Most food items in the center aisles of the store are overly processed convenience type foods. Obviously, sometimes you need to grab an item or two from these rows and that is totally okay. But, the easiest way to eat clean is to stick to the outside of these rows.
Another great way to approach grocery shopping is to read labels! It is a pretty safe bet that if a product has an ingredient list longer than 2 items, it’s not very clean. I’m sure you’ve all read labels before and found yourself unable to even pronounce an ingredient. Crazy chemistry lab ingredients= not clean. My favorite example (that my dad pointed out to me by the way) is coffee creamer. Delicious, incredible coffee creamer. Coffee creamers are non-dairy creamers made of I don’t know what. Sugar and…..some other stuff? Except the sugar free one’s that are made of….I don’t know what? I love the seasonal coffee creamers but nope, that shit ain’t clean.
Clean eating is different than a traditional “diet” in that it doesn’t focus as much on calories you’re consuming or fat content. The focus is whole foods. You might be wondering about something like dairy: low fat or full fat? In my opinion, that’s up to you. I personally tend to choose full fat yogurt and half and half for example, but if you wanted to shave off some calories, you could pick lower fat versions. I think full fat tastes better and that I actually tend to eat less because it is more filling-but maybe that’s all in my head. Up to you! The full fat variety of foods also tend to be less processed. That is definitely a personal choice though.
How to Start:
The best way to start a clean eating lifestyle is to take a look at your kitchen and make some healthier swaps. For example, white pasta-swap in whole wheat pasta or better yet, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Another example, fruit flavored yogurts. Swap greek yogurt with fresh fruit!
Some of these foods may take a while to get used to. An acquired taste. Eventually though, they will become part of your daily routine and habit just like the foods you used to eat.
Sometimes produce can be a bit expensive especially if you don’t use it in time and it goes bad (I am guilty of this and it makes my husband crazy). A cheaper route is buying frozen veggies or fruits. Frozen produce (assuming there is no added sugar) has just as much nutritional value as fresh! I admit, fresh is more appealing, but sometimes frozen can be more economical (especially in winter. Buy those frozen blueberries!).
Here are a couple pictures with more healthy swap ideas:
(image found here)
(Image found here)
Do you eat clean? Any recommendations on getting started?