Clean Eating 101: Everything You Need to Know

“Clean eating” is a term that gets thrown around a lot. It’s become as much a buzzword as “antioxidants”, “detoxing”, or “bulking up”, but it’s just as misunderstood. In fact, most people have no idea what clean eating really means or how they can do it. So let us help! Below, you’ll find out everything you need to know about how to clean up your eating habits to eat clean every day…

Defining Clean Eating

There is no single definition for clean eating. That’s because it’s not a hard and fast diet rule. Instead, it’s an approach to eating better by eating the real “whole” foods that have not been modified or altered in any way. For example, eating fresh fruits and vegetables rather than frozen or canned, eating meat cooked from raw rather than processed sausage and ham, or eating organic dairy products with as few chemicals as possible. Minimally processed or totally unprocessed foods eaten or cooked from their raw state means foods that are as natural as possible—and as healthy as possible.

What to Cut Out

This is definitely a bit of a trickier prospect than you might initially realize! There are so many foods that contain added sugar and salt—everything from condiments to sauces to pastas to oats to cereal. Many more foods contain chemicals used as preservatives, as flavorings, or as fillers. Basically, any food that has been manufactured or processed in some way—including white flour and white rice—is no good. Your goal is to eliminate any food that isn’t in its natural raw state. This definitely goes for any junk food and food that is artificially made.

Why Cut Out Processed Foods?

While many processed foods simply have chemicals added to eliminate bacteria or enhance the lifespan of said foods, most of these foods have been over-processed, to the point that they’re loaded with chemicals that can often do more harm than good. Foods made with GMO ingredients may be linked to cancer and chronic disease, and highly processed foods are often stripped of their natural nutrients. The addition of flavorings and food additives that target the dopamine receptors in your brain can leave you feeling more reliant on food for your perceived happiness, causing you to develop a sort of addiction to junk food and processed food.

How to Take Up Clean Eating Today

It’s actually a lot easier than you think! Start out by eating whole foods. Anything that’s in its raw, natural state is good to go. Avoid anything already prepared, but make it a point to make everything yourself. Next, cut back on the number of ingredients in your meals. Fewer ingredients means fewer risk of chemical additives, and you can get a much better balance of macro and micronutrients. Eat more slowly, putting down your fork or spoon between each bite to give your body a chance to digest. Be more mindful of what you’re eating, and you’ll enjoy your food more and binge-eat less. Finally, figure out an eating schedule that works for you, and stick with it. Listen to your body and let it guide your eating habits.

What to Load Up On

Fruits and veggies are always the central core of your diet, and they should be complemented by nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Farm-fresh eggs, lean proteins, fish, and healthy fats are definitely important, as are unrefined grains and hormone-free dairy. Cut out anything that isn’t mentioned above, and you’ve got the makings of a beautifully clean and healthy diet!

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