If I was asked to name a specific diet that I liked to follow, then clean eating would be the one. Unlike most diets that focus on eating more or less of specific macronutrients, such as carbohydrates and protein, clean eating looks at a healthy and sustainable lifestyle approach.
So what exactly is it?
Unlike other diets that require you to count calories, or focus on controlling your macronutrient intake (e.g. fewer carbohydrates Vs more protein), clean eating is about taking your diet back to the basics. It encourages a more mindful approach to food, by taking into consideration the process that different foods have to go through in order to get from being harvested to being served on your plate.
In simple terms, clean eating opts for foods as close to their natural state as possible, which means avoiding overly processed foods.
Is All Processing Bad?
Though completely unprocessed food may be the healthiest option, it is important to point out that not all processing is bad. In fact some forms of processing not only make certain foods more digestible, they also them more available to us.
Processing can be anything from heating foods (cooking), freezing, canning, drying, pasteurisation, as well as adding preservatives, chemicals, hormones and even added vitamins to a meal. So even though ready made microwave meals are definitely not on the ‘clean eating’ diet, steaming your veggies, cooking up some brown rice and freezing what you can’t eat for your next meal is fine!
What Would a Clean Eating Diet Contain?
A good tip when shopping clean is purchasing foods with as few ingredients in them as possible, and avoid foods with ingredients that you cannot pronounce!
That being said, just because you are opting to eat clean, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice enjoyment. There are plenty of amazing foods and dishes that you can create that stick to the basic clean eating principles.
Clean eating foods include a combination of unprocessed and minimally processed foods, such as:
- Nuts and seeds
- Eggs (free range is best!)
- Unrefined grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole oats
- Free range, unprocessed meats
- Hormone free dairy products such as unpasteurized milk and yoghurt
Ideally opting for foods that are organic, and without hormones, pesticides or any other chemicals used to enhance them.
Not only does a clean eating diet provide a more sustainable and enjoyable approach to eating, it also ensures good health as it is naturally low in added sugars or trans fats that are a leading cause of weight gain. So by making healthy food choices that focus on fresh and unprocessed foods, you will be supporting a healthy body and mind.
As with any diet, you can take it to the extreme if you wish, however, I like to live by a more relaxed approach. I personally enjoy opting for fresh foods, with minimal processing, but I also enjoy the odd treat every now and then. So I believe the key is awareness and moderation without sacrificing enjoyment!