New year, new chance to eat clean this year. What exactly does this buzzy phrase mean?
YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR EATING CLEAN
“Although no clinical definition exists, clean eating generally refers to how a food is produced. It’s about the path from where it originates (farm = clean; manufacturing facility = not so much) to your plate. Food products with more steps along that path (say, a little road trip to the manufacturing facility) are generally thought of as less clean,” adds Samantha Cassetty, VP of Nutrition, MS, RD at Luvo. Clean eating isn’t so much a diet as it is a lifestyle that zooms in on pushing out bad foods and slipping in as many nutrient-dense, wholesome foods as possible.
Dr. Stegall’s comments: Eating “clean” means focusing on natural, whole foods with minimal to no processing. It also typically means that it is free of additives such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. I advise patients to “shop the perimeter” of the supermarket, which includes healthy produce, meats, and some dairy, while avoiding the aisles filled with heavily processed food with much lower nutritional value.
One point the article made. which I disagree with, was the importance of carbs. It states that carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are all needed to survive and thrive. This is not true. We need certain fats (essential fatty acids) and proteins (essential amino acids), but this is not true for carbohydrates. There are no “essential carbohydrates” or “essential sugars.” In fact, the body can function just fine without any carbohydrates, because it has a built-in mechanism to break down fat for energy. This is the basis for the ketogenic diet, which is very important in cancer treatment.
What Is Clean Eating?
10 Tips for Clean Eating
You’ve probably heard of clean eating, but you may not know what it is exactly or how to go about cleaning up your diet. Eating clean is a good way to refresh your eating habits: it’s about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats.
Dr. Stegall’s comments: No need to make this complicated – focus on vegetables, animal protein, and healthy fats. These are the pillars of a healthy diet. The key is to make sure that these foods are organic, without added pesticides, hormones, or GMOs, whenever possible. Some fruit is okay in moderation, but don’t go overboard. Don’t be afraid of dietary fat, including nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconut oil. Some dairy is okay as long as you are not lactose intolerant. Avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, wheat, and basically anything which includes ingredients you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce.
Choose organic clean foods whenever possible
If your budget limits you, make meat, eggs, dairy and the Dirty Dozen your organic priorities. To learn about what makes clean food organic, see What is Organic Farming, Really?
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Drink at least two liters of water a day
Preferably from a reusable canteen, not plastic; we’re friends of the environment here! Limit your alcohol intake to one glass of antioxidant-rich red wine a day. For tips on tap water testing and purification as a part of eating clean, see Reconsider Tap Water: The Healthiest Water Options.
Dr. Stegall’s comments: There are some good pearls in this article. I especially like the tip about mindful eating, which is basically an increased awareness of what we are eating. By focusing more on the smell, texture, and flavor of food, we tend to eat slower and feel fuller sooner. This is important, because our hustle-and-bustle society makes it easy for us to eat quickly and not really think about what we are eating. Slow down, relax, and enjoy.