The Clean Eating trend has become a foodie phenomenon – but unlike other fad diets that tell you to eliminate carbs or avoid fats, it’s principles are surprisingly basic.
Look behind the marketing speak and the clean eating approach to diet and lifestyle is one that’s full of common sense – at its heart, clean eating is simply about avoiding processed foods and sticking to meats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and pulses instead.
Devotees of clean eating swear by this diet’s ability to help us lose weight, feel better, help manage ailments and diseases and get proper nutrition. And while not all of its big claims are backed by science, there’s plenty of good things to say about a meal plan that encourages us to pick the best ingredients.
Ready for a fridge makeover? Here’s how you can sensibly adopt the best principles behind clean eating.
Eat ‘whole’ foods
At the heart of clean eating is the commitment to eating foods as close to their ‘natural’ state as possible. What this means is seeking out ingredients that have been tampered with as little as possible in a lab or manufacturing plant. Instead of pre-packaged, pre-cut vegetables that are often heavily treated with chemicals to keep them fresh, clean eating encourages us to choose organic foods where possible and shop locally – sourcing fruit and veg from our local farmers market, for example.
In the same vein is to avoid processed foods. Simply put, these are any foods that have a label. Processing doesn’t necessarily mean foods are bad; milk and cheese is technically processed, but doesn’t need to be avoided on principle. The foods you want to steer away from are heavily processed, packaged foods with multiple ingredients; if you can’t identify the words in the ingredients list then don’t put it in your shopping basket.
Say goodbye to refined sugar
There’s lots of talk in the media about sugar being the enemy, and it’s for good reason. Though sweet and delicious, refined sugar has no nutritional value – it provides nothing but calories and can actually leave us feeling less satisfied and more hungry in the long run. Refined sugars are added to all sorts of foods, leading to a range of health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Ditch packaged sweets like biscuits and cakes and instead satisfy your sweet tooth with the natural sugars found in fruits and honey.
Skip the fizzy drinks
Fizzy drinks like Coca Cola, Pepsi and flavoured water are full of artificial ingredients and refined sugars – the exact opposite of what clean eating promotes. Try cutting back or cutting out fizzy drinks altogether. Instead, substitute them with water or carbonated water – you can add your own unique flavourings with cucumber, mint, berries and citrus fruits.
Cook your own meals
The best way to know what’s in the food you eat is to cook your own meals. You don’t have to eliminate the foods you love from your life altogether – there’s still a place for pizza every now and again when you’re eating clean. Instead of ordering from a takeaway, try making it yourself with fresh ingredients – a whole wheat pasta base, fresh mozzarella cheese, and plenty of vegetables provide better nutrition and fresher taste, too.
Have you ever tried clean eating? What are your top tips for adopting this popular diet?