Are you eating clean? What does that even mean? Does it mean you’ve washed your food or your hands? Bought organic or grass-fed? Why is it important?
Here’s the truth: Clean eating is the concept of eating whole unprocessed foods, the way nature delivers them. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It’s being mindful of food and how it’s prepared one meal at a time.
Clean eating helps us improve our fitness, decrease inflammation, and decrease body fat. Clean eating increases muscle mass and tone. It increases our emotional and physical well-being, helping us feel better and increasing our energy. Clean eating improves digestion, decreases allergies, and even improves our skin tone.
Here are some basic principles:
Eat 5-6 times a day. This sounds like a disaster to some. But, if you eat three balanced meals and two or three healthy snacks each day, you will keep blood sugar healthy, burn calories efficiently, and maintain energy throughout the day. Eat whole foods – fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthy proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
Choose organic and grass-fed clean foods whenever possible. Remember the Dirty Dozen. These foods are the most important to buy organic because you don’t peel them: apples, strawberries, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach/kale, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. There is also the Clean Fifteen that you don’t need to buy organic—avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangos, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower.
Drink half your body weight of water in ounces daily. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink 70 ounces of water each day. Limit your alcohol intake to one glass of antioxidant red wine per day. Avoid sodas (even diet sodas) and juice.
Read all nutrition labels. There should be no more than five or six ingredients per dish.
Avoid processed or refined foods. This includes fried foods, white flour, sugar, bread, and pasta. Eat complex carbohydrates, like quinoa, brown rice, and lentils. Avoid artificial sweeteners, artificial food dyes, energy drinks, and highly processed food of any kind. Look for 100% whole wheat with no preservatives or additives. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, MSG, potassium bromate, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate.
Consume healthy fats. This includes avocados, extra virgin olive oil, almond oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, red palm oil, organic ghee, and grape seed oil. Avoid trans fats, canola oil, and soybean oil.
Be careful with dairy. Dairy is a source for controversy. You need to investigate for yourself if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to the natural sugar in milk. However, for our purposes, this is the approved list. Milk, plain greek yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, and feta cheese. If you eat cheese, buy real cheese, not processed American cheese, shredded cheese, or cheese from a jar. (They have anti-caking ingredients.) Buy block cheese. If it can sit on the shelf for months, it’s not clean!
If you are a cancer patient, it’s important to maintain proper nutrition before, during, and after your treatment. However, depending on your choice of treatment, what is “proper” for you might not be for another patient. Please consult your physician to determine the best individual nutrition plan for your cancer care.