If you’ve been keeping up to speed with the latest in the health and wellness community, then you’ve likely heard the latest buzz word, “clean eating”. But what does it really mean to eat clean?
What Is Clean Eating?
Eating clean refers to two important areas. The first branch of clean eating is about consuming chemical-free and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) food as much as possible. This part of the equation means staying away from chemical additives and chemically treated foods or foods that are high in refined sugar. The second branch refers to washing your food and storing it properly.
Overall, clean eating is a concept that stresses the importance of healthy, whole, and unprocessed foods. The main reasons why so many people have started adopting this lifestyle are the health benefits of consuming nutrient-rich foods that nourish and fuel your body.
Sound like something you’d like to try? It’s easy to get started by following our 8 clean eating tips for beginners.
8 Tips to Start Eating Clean for Beginners
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
There’s no denying it—fruits and vegetables are a healthy choice as they are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is a great first step to take when starting to eat clean. Not sure where to start? Check out our 10 easy (and tasty) ways to get more leafy greens in your diet.
2. Avoid foods that contain chemical additives.
Foods that contain chemical additives are the antithesis of clean eating. Chemical additives are commonly found in foods such as pre-packaged baked goods, deli meats, breads, frozen meals, and many others. Keep an eye out for ingredients like monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial flavoring or coloring, nitrites, or hydrogenated oils. These additives are usually found in pre-packed items so try skipping these products and making them from scratch.
3. Limit refined-sugar and refined-flour products.
Since clean eating encourages you to eat food in its most natural state, it makes sense that you would want to avoid any refined products that offer little to no nutritional value. These products are often chock-full of sugar and carbohydrates. Ketchup, salad dressings, processed peanut butter, and breakfast cereals are just a few examples of processed foods that tend to be high in added sugars and low in fiber, vitamins, and whole grains.
Have a strong sweet tooth? Cutting down on your sugar intake doesn’t have to be hard with our 6 easy ways to reduce your sugar intake.
4. Find organically grown produce, milk products, and protein sources.
Finding organically grown/produced products is becoming even more important as pollution worsens around the world. Several studies have also shown that organically grown foods have higher nutrient levels than the same produce grown commercially. When shopping, look for foods that have the Canada Organic or USDA Organic logo on them to ensure they are certified organic.
5. Wash your food.
Properly washing your food will help prevent spoilage and contamination. Washing fresh produce with water or a natural veggie wash (like vinegar!) before eating or cooking can be helpful to clean off the dirt, bugs, or chemicals that may be lingering on the surface.
6. Store your food properly.
Packing food properly for storage in safe, reusable containers (such as glass, Pyrex, stainless steel, or non-leaded ceramic) will protect your food longer. Natural wax wraps and reusable storage bags are also a great way to keep produce fresh for longer.
7. Limit alcohol consumption.
Moderation is key here! While you’re making mindful decisions about your food, it’s also important to consider what you drink. Frequent alcohol consumption has been proven to promote inflammation and is linked to many other health concerns. If you're craving something with a little more spunk than plain old water, try naturally flavored sparkling water or kombucha.
8. Drink clean, filtered water.
Water is the most natural drink you can have! Be mindful of where you source your water and opt for clean, filtered, chemical-free water whenever possible. Water is fundamental to life and without it we cannot experience optimum health so it’s important to remember to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day!
Your Body & Planet Will Thank You (3 Major Benefits of Eating Clean)
- Clean eating helps the environment.
Buying organic is a signal to the farming industry that there is a market that supports organic farming as opposed to food producers who use many chemicals. As pollution worsens around the world, this is critical for sustainability.
Additionally, the majority of highly processed foods come in excessive plastic packaging, so ditching these products actually helps eliminate plastic waste.
Interested in going organic? Here are 24 reasons and counting for why you should make the switch!
- You and your kitchen stay clean and safe.
By washing and storing your food properly you are keeping yourself, your home, kitchen counters, and utensils clean, ultimately protecting you from spreading bacteria and disease.
- Your overall health benefits.
Clean eating can significantly impact your overall health and wellbeing. Research has shown that clean eating can provide some great physical and mental benefits such as increased energy, positive impact on mood, improved cardiovascular health, improved digestion, stronger immune system, improved brain health, and more!
Clean Eating Doesn’t Need to be Hard!
Since clean eating doesn’t have one definition you can pick and choose what works for you, and if that means eating a little “dirty” sometimes, that’s okay! Moderation is key and being mindful of your food choices is a great step towards clean eating. Try some of our tips for eating clean and start experiencing a positive impact on your wellbeing!