Clean Eating seems to be travelling around popular media sights pretty fast… recipes are popping up, ideas and tips, sometimes making it look easy sometimes hard. But what’s clean eating really all about? Is it just a trend that will stick around for a little while and then blow over like most health trends? Or will it leave a lasting impression on those who practice it.
What is Clean Eating
Well there’s no hard and fast definition of “clean eating” but it is pretty simple… It’s not about clean food as in wash your veg before consumption (although that is a good idea) but rather whole foods instead of the readily available processed and fast foods. The idea behind Clean Eating is not weight loss or weight gain, in fact it’s not a diet to try for a few months or a year, it’s not a diet at all. Clean Eating is a lifestyle and the idea is to promote health and encourage individuals to become aware of what they are eating (plus the benefits of lowering sugar, sodium, and artificial ingredient intake.)
If it’s not a diet, what is it?
Firstly, what’s not great about being able to be healthy without going on a diet? That word seems to be a big turn off when it comes to health. It’s not a diet? Well no not so much as in restricting oneself to small portions of food or special kinds of food in order to lose weight…not that kind of diet. Clean Eating is actually a lifestyle, and a very popular one too. In fact it’s popularity may lie in it’s lack of super strict rules and it’s ability to encourage healthier eating by allowing people to pick the foods they like and reap healthy rewards.
So why the fuss?
While the term “clean eating” is relatively new the concept is not. It originates from the 1960’s and it’s health-focused condemnation of diets containing high amounts of processed foods. Not all processed foods are equal, keep in mind, and range from minimally processed items like inorganic fruits and veg from the grocery store to the more heavily processed bags of frozen fish and chicken. The closer you are to the minimally processed foods the closer you are to eating clean.
Since Clean Eating is not a strict diet and the “rules” vary widely it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not about losing or gaining but rather simply eating healthier. It varies from serious clean eaters who forego anything processed at all and stick to fresh picked produce from the garden to a more lenient lifestyle focused on eating only whole foods but allowing convenient (and minimally processed) foods including fruit, veg, meat and dairy from the supermarket.
Why it Matters and Is it For You
Think of clean eating as your balance, your happy medium. It’s not a strict diet, you can pretty much eat what you like and skip what you don’t like. No point in forcing yourself to eat spinach if you don’t like it when you can opt for something more agreeable instead. There’s a lot of lee way in eating clean and a lot of benefits. Research shows that eating fresh fruits and vegetables can help in the prevention and control of weight gain, which means a lower risk of chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and stroke to name a few! Yet it’s not just adding more vegetables and grains to your plate! That’s a great way to go but clean eating the right way also means cutting down on added salts and sugars. Remember the balance!
Sounds simple doesn’t it…basically it is. Leave out the fast processed food and focus on whole foods. But there it went…”fast”…out the window. Indeed finding time to prepare healthy meals can be tough, there certainly aren’t many drive thru clean fast food places…and even if there is one on the block who knows if it checks out right? To make it easier some suggest creating weekly or monthly shopping lists and keeping it simple and manageable. Making make-ahead meals helps, preparing a salad in a jar, or cooking double and enjoying the leftovers. Whole fruit and veggie smoothies are fun and can be a meal in a glass. Place the ingredients in a jar the night before and toss them in the blender in the morning for a quick breakfast. Clean eating is a lifestyle, not a diet, so remember in order to make it easier and more fun a weekly break could help it last a lot longer than trying for a long streak.