This is part of a series we’ve lovingly dubbed “Illuminating Wellness”. It seems there is always some new term popping up in the wellness community (and your Pinterest boards). Let’s lay out what they mean and most importantly how you can actually apply them to your own day-to-day routine. Let’s talk about: Clean Eating.
Before we dive into the concept of “clean eating” I think it’s important to recognize that there isn’t a clear, concise definition of the term “clean eating”. It’s a pretty vague term that leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
In general most agree that it is a focus on healthy, whole, natural and unprocessed foods. But terms like “healthy”, “whole”, “natural” and “unprocessed” all mean different things to different people. And this is exactly why clean eating can be such a tricky path to navigate.
At its best, clean eating should not be about following a restrictive diet or strict eating plan, pitting good foods against bad foods, thought of as a superior way of eating, considered mandatory, or deemed as the only good way of eating. It should be about fitting in more vegetables and fruits alongside whole grains, beans, nuts and animal products. And even that statement is pretty broad because of course some people have celiac or are deathly allergic to nuts, while others abstain from consuming animal products for ethical reasons.
There can be a lot of junk in processed foods. Not to mention you can’t control how much fat, salt and/or sugar is in a product; it’s completely up to the manufacturers of these foods.
The “clean eating” argument goes that when you eat foods that aren’t prepackaged they are in a better state to be eaten and nutritionally absorbed and when you make these foods yourself you can control how much of what goes into them. It puts the power back into your hands. And putting the power back into your hands is something I am all about!
Eating clean, when done thoughtfully, can be a great way of learning to tune into your body and provide it with nourishing foods.
1 | Decide what “definition” of clean eating works best for you during this season
This is where intuitive eating skills come in super handy! Vegetables and fruits should be a priority on your list. Also, depending on allergies and ethical choices, of course, nuts, grains, and meats might make an appearance. But remember to remain an expert on your body, don’t let someone else dictate what your list should look like. Take suggestions into consideration and decide if it’s a right fit for you.
2 | Make slow, realistic changes
You don’t need to create a “clean slate” by throwing out everything in your cabinets. Each time you go grocery shopping add a few items that subscribe to clean eating principles to your cart.
3 | Read labels
While the “if you can’t pronounce it don’t eat it rule” doesn’t always hold up, knowing what ingredients are in the food you are eating is empowering. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, look it up! Knowledge is power, and in an age where almost everyone has a smartphone you essentially have an encyclopedia in the palm of your hands.
4 | Eat out less and eat in more
Start with one recipe a week and try something super simple like roasting carrots or brussels sprouts if cooking isn’t your thing.
Remember: always be kind to yourself as you implement changes to your lifestyle. Strive for improvement over perfection and the payoff will be immense.