How are you this lovely Saturday morning? The air is crisp and cool in my pocket of the world today, which I won’t deny is a welcome relief from the lingering summer heat. It’s almost time for cardigans and coats and furs, oh yes!
I’ve been thinking this morning about clean eating. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I only discovered this phenomenon about six months ago, and since then it seems almost every pin and hashtag on the internet is promoting it’s benefits. There are health and fitness blogs galore packed full to bursting with information about clean foods and what it really means to ‘eat clean, train mean’. I don’t know about the training mean part, but the eat clean fiends certainly seem to be onto a good thing.
To put it very simply, clean eating is the decision to only eat foods that are chemically unaltered. The idea is to cut out any foods that have been processed (altered by humans and evil food conglomerates). According to Answer Fitness, the roots of the clean eating movement began to grown in the 1960s as part of the natural health food movement. The pot smoking, dreadlocked freedom fighters of the era paved the way for how we view clean eating today. Clean eating is a trend that’s thrown around a lot by body builders, super models and personal trainers- but the truth of the matter is, every single person on the planet could probably benefit from the fundamental philosophies of the clean eating culture.
Look at it this way. The types of things that most of us tend to pick up in the supermarket contain stuff that isn’t grown in the ground or on trees. Emulsifiers, binding agents, colours, flavouring, ‘herbs and spices’, dehydrated shrimp, white flour- these are all things that either undergo or are created by chemical processes before we put them in our mouths. In an interview I watched recently, one doctor suggested that the simplest way to make good food choices is to consider this before buying things to eat- ”Would my great, great-grandmother recognise this as food?”. Yoghurt in tubes, pastry blobs in silver trays, lasagna vacuum sealed in plastic- if it wouldn’t be recognisable in 1901, don’t stick it in your gob!
The clean eating philosophy has some amazing health benefits, beyond not sticking nasty chemicals in your mouth and chewing them. These include decreasing your body fat, increasing your lean muscle mass, eating less salt and sugar, improving your energy levels, improving your overall health and immunity and decreasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease and other nasties. There’s also a significant positive impact on the environment through the clean eating philosophy- clean food is unprocessed food, and therefore it is food that uses far less energy to create. It produces less un-biodegradable waste and is less expensive. For the cost of a Dominoes pizza (shudder) you can make an entire stock pot of soup that’s packed with natural, healthy ingredients and will prove more than one or two meals.
In the interest of simplifying the principles of clean eating, I’ve condensed them down into eight bite-sized portions (worst pun ever). There’s a stack of more in-depth information available, and I’ll include links at the bottom- but for now, try to keep the following in mind:
- Eat a wide-variety of yummy unprocessed foods that are as close as possible to how they would appear on the ground or in a tree. (not applicable to meats- I do not expect you to walk up and chomp into a cow standing in a paddock)
- Avoid processed sugars (yes, this includes soft drinks!)
- Eat only healthy, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds and salmon)
Combine complex carbohydrates (WHOLEGRAINS) with lean protein such as chicken or beef
- Pay attention to portion control! Tray to eat 5-6 meals a day- but make them smaller. This will help to keep your metabolism firing on all pistons!
Drink 2 litres of water per day. That might sound like a lot- but it’s only 8 cups- one in the morning, one at night and one with every meal
There are some awesome resources online for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about the clean eating philosophy and all the amazing benefits it provides:
- Answer Fitness has a fantastic, comprehensive guide to clean eating for beginners
- A more succinct approach by The Gracious Pantry
- Better Health Victoria has this great article about the different types of fats and their benefits
- Clean Eating Chelsea is a very cute lifestyle blog about clean eating. It also contains some fabulous recipies and links to other resources!
- Clean Eating Magazine is a fabulous treasure trove of all things unexpected- their recipie for sticky buns looks absolutely to die for!!!
Clean eating is not a diet. It’s not a weight loss fad. It doesn’t guarantee you will drop two dress sizes in two weeks. It’s just about making concious, healthy choices to eat real food that nourishes your body and takes care of your insides. I really believe that there are amazing benefits to clean eating- which is why I am making the committment today! Having said that, I don’t want to set myself up for failure- so I am only going to commit to 50% clean eating at this stage. I’m going to eat 50% clean for two weeks, and then increase it to 60% for two weeks (then 80%, etc). At 6 meals per day, that’s three clean meals per day to start with- completely do-able! I’m really looking forward to cooking more, eating fresher foods and detoxing my way-overprocessed diet. Would you like to join me…?
What has been your experience with clean eating? Have you tried it? How does it make you feel? Never heard of it? Let us know!