There are numerous methods for being healthy and losing weight. From crazy fad diets to counting calories, there are many options. However, the simplest method is to just eat healthy and clean. This means eating lean protein, good carbs, good fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Add water and exercise to that and you’ll be healthy and happy. The benefits go beyond weight loss, as you will have more energy, brighter eyes, healthier teeth, and you won’t be hungry.
The idea behind clean eating is to be mindful of what food you are eating and where it comes from. The simple idea is to eat “real” or whole foods that are minimally processed, refined, or handled. You want to eat food that is as close to its natural form as possible. This can be tricky, as modern food is generally highly processed, but eating clean is still possible.
What to Avoid
Processing food includes adding anything, such as sugar, salt, fat, flavors, preservatives, or vitamins. Anything that is not naturally in the food that is added after the fact. Processing also includes changing the natural form of the food like removing germ from bread. Another good way to tell if food is processed is to look at the ingredients list. If you see ingredients you aren’t familiar with, or can’t pronounce, that is a good indicator the food has been processed.
Food coloring is rather common in food, but not all colorants are created equal. FDA approved coloring is perfectly fine to eat. Avoid any coloring that is not FDA approved, as it may contain less than desirable components.
Highly processed food is good to avoid, but there are some other things that should be avoided as well:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugary beverages, such as soda and juice
- Foods with chemical additives like food dyes and sodium nitrite
- Foods with preservatives
- Artificial foods, such as processed cheese slices
- Saturated and trans fats
- Anti-foods — calorie-dense foods with no nutritional value
Fruits and Veggies
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, most people aren’t eating enough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 76 percent of Americans don’t get enough fruit each day and a whopping 87 percent aren’t eating enough servings of vegetables. Eating more fruit and vegetables can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. The fiber in natural foods also helps to keep your gut happy, which reduces your risk of autoimmune diseases and fights off pathogens and infections. Looking for organic food is a good idea, as organic is even healthier than normal produce. Farmers markets are a good way to shop local and healthy.
The best whole grains have been touched the least by processing. This means that as much of the natural grain is left in as possible. Some people might say that grains that have been processed even a tiny bit should be avoided, but whole grain bread and pasta are a part of clean eating. There is nothing wrong with some pasta or avocado toast so long as it is whole grain.
Many labels claim to be whole grain, but don’t be fooled. You have to look at the ingredients list to be sure that the whole grain label is accurate. Whole grain should always be the first ingredient and the entire list should be short and familiar.
It is recommended that you consume less meat. It is better for you and the planet. Eating less or no meat can reduce your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease and help keep your weight in check. Don’t be worried about losing out on protein by cutting down on meat, as there are plenty of other ways to get protein. Eggs, dairy, beans, and nuts all provide protein and are part of a clean diet. When you do eat meat, select options that are antibiotic free and grass fed or wild caught. Also avoid processed meats like cold cuts, bacon, and sausage.
Overall, clean eating is a very healthy choice. With a little bit of effort and some research, you too can eat clean. Start by simply avoiding processed foods, eating vegetables and fruits, and cutting down on meat. Follow this advice and you will be feeling healthier than ever!