Chances are, you have heard the phrase “clean eating.” It’s based on eating whole foods or foods that are minimally processed, free of artificial ingredients, and as close to their natural state as possible.
Clean eating can be beneficial to health in a variety of ways. Our bodies have a built-in detoxification system. For this system to work efficiently, we must support it through good nutrition. Clean eating via the consumption of whole foods helps rid the body of toxins and can contribute to improving overall health.
Adjusting to a diet free of processed foods can be difficult and take time, so start with small steps. Read food labels while grocery shopping to ensure the foods you’re purchasing are as close to natural as possible. A good rule of thumb is if there’s a food that contains an ingredient you can’t pronounce, the product is likely man-made and not considered a whole food.
Another way to make the transition easier is to meal prep. At the beginning of the week, cook meals in batches. For example, bake a large batch of chicken and vegetables, and have other healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt, and oats on-hand to ensure there are nutritious meals and snacks ready to grab throughout the week. Measuring out meals into smaller portions is another important factor that contributes to better health. Eating five to six smaller meals per day with healthy ingredients increases metabolism and helps maintain portion control.
Supermarket Shopping Tips
It’s much easier to eat clean when you fill your fridge with natural and fresh whole foods. As you shop, keep in mind that the perimeter of the store is where you will find the majority of natural foods. If you are shopping for center aisle items, be sure to read labels and choose products such as 100% whole grain pasta, brown rice instead of white rice, and 100% whole grain bread that is less than 100 calories. If you’re shopping for cereal, purchase varieties with less than 12 grams of sugar. The key is to choose fresh or packaged foods with simple ingredients. Shop for high fiber foods since both insoluble and soluble fiber aid in the elimination of toxins from the body. Fiber is found in plant foods, so if you consume plenty of fruits and veggies and shop for high fiber breads and cereals that offer at least three grams of fiber per serving, you will easily meet your fiber goal of 25 grams per day.
Effects on the Body
The gastrointestinal tract is the first line of defense against ingested chemicals, and a healthy gut flora provides a protective barrier inside the intestines to prevent toxins from entering the bloodstream. Keep your gut healthy by boosting probiotic intake with foods such as yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut, or discuss probiotic supplement options with your pharmacist. Increase antioxidant intake by eating five to nine servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day – the richer the pigment, the more phytonutrients the plant contains. The liver is responsible for 75% of the body’s detoxification. To help support your liver, consume a wide selection of fruits and vegetables including fresh, frozen, dried, and canned varieties. Ridding your system of refined sugars and other energy-depleting ingredients helps free your body of harmful toxins, increase energy, enhance sleep patterns, and improve overall mental health.