With over six million #eatclean posts on Instagram, is clean eating just another diet lauded by celebrities or is there more to it?
Clean eating is not a quick fix or a fad diet. It’s a lifestyle choice to consume whole, unprocessed food.
While some people may prefer only fruit, veg, whole grains and healthy fats, others may also want eggs, dairy, meat and fish. The defining factor is that food must closely resemble their natural state with little or no processing and no artificial additives.
Clean eating has a myriad of health benefits — clearer skin, increased energy, improved sleep and mental health. The increased fibre content of whole food makes it great for the digestive system thus promoting good gut health. It also lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Forget diets! Whole foods nourish and fuel the body producing sustainable weight loss as opposed to refined carbs which are loaded with empty calories that neither fill you nor provide nutritional value and cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash causing sugar cravings, insulin resistance and obesity.
Sound like a game-changer?
Preparing your own meals gives you control over the foods you consume. Dining out or getting take out usually means higher salt intake and a host of artificial additives.
If cooking isn’t your thing, learn to prepare a few simple dishes and gradually expand your repertoire. Experiment; adapt your favourite meals by finding healthy alternatives, for example, substitute brown pita for a pizza base and top with lots of vegetables.
If you wait too long between meals, blood sugar levels spike causing you to crave sugary foods. Continuing this cycle of highs and lows will make you irritable and tired. Eating whole food helps to stabilise and maintain optimal blood sugar levels.
When planning your meals, aim for three or five vegetables, 1/5 lean protein and 1/5 complex carbs and healthy fats.
Make salads as colourful as possible. Select proteins like grass-fed meat, fish and legumes.
Healthy fat options include avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Avoid “white carbs” like white sugar, flour and rice and opt for whole grains — think buckwheat, brown rice and oatmeal.
Designing a meal plan for the week helps you stay on track. The chances of you throwing in the towel because you don’t know what to whip up for dinner will be reduced.
Meal prepping on the weekend will save you heaps of time in the week. Precook chicken and turkey. Wash and chop vegetables, drizzle olive oil over and pop them in the refrigerator.
The clean eating principle can be adapted to suit your unique body and lifestyle so that you can enjoy a higher quality of life.