The adage “we are what we eat” does not sound true when we make food choices. We don’t eat a doughnut and suddenly look round and doughy. The effects of our eating habits are not usually noticeable right away. (Unless you have a food allergy.)
Even if you have a high metabolism and are fortunate to look fit while eating fried foods, candy bars, and soda every day—what happens to your body on the inside? Over time, the small choices we make every day accumulate. Diabetes. Heart Disease. High cholesterol. One meal does not trigger these conditions.
Many food movements focus on eliminating entire food groups, impose ridiculous portion control rules, and make it a challenge for individuals to eat healthy. Clean eating does not involve any of these. Clean eating focuses on eating whole foods, less processed foods, and those that contain very little artificial ingredients. Read labels and if there are more than 10 ingredients or if there are ingredients you cannot pronounce or recognize—it is likely too processed.
Clean eating allows you to:
Enjoy every food group. Eat cheeses, breads, and meats – just choose less-processed cheeses, freshly baked breads with no food coloring or additives, and reduce or eliminate processed meats like hot dogs. This means you can enjoy pizza (for toppings, choose veggies or meatballs instead of pepperoni and try to find pizza with crusts made from ingredients you know), a thick steak dinner, and ice cream (add fresh fruit and try to find a brand that has few ingredients or buy from your local dairy).
Eat when you’re hungry. Clean eating allows you to enjoy healthy food choices any time. This is not a diet fad that forces you to have one meal each day, or eight balanced meals. When you choose unprocessed foods for your meals and snacks, you are only helping your body if you decide to have a whole wheat bagel and honey for breakfast, snack on carrots and cheese all afternoon or have a grilled chicken parmigiana sandwich on a whole grain bun for lunch. These choices are filling and help eliminate processed fats like butter and cream cheese from breakfast, ranch dressing for carrots, and fried chicken at lunch.
Drink…lots of water! I’m a big fan of water—check out my water cabinet. Water has absolutely no calories and is only good for you. Need flavor? Add flavor to your water with fresh lemon or lime, or find a tea you like and drink it throughout the day chilled. If you need a sweet kick, brew tea with honey first and then chill. Sodas have an enormous amount of sugar—and the sugar-free sodas still have additives and chemicals that do not offer health benefits.
Trying to eat local? Check out our post about locally-sourced food and apps that help you make smarter food choices.