What is Clean Eating? As a dietitian, I often get asked this question. I realized that I really do have my own definition of clean eating that may not match most of the definitions out there. I thought it would be beneficial to me, as well as my readers, to talk about what clean eating means to me, and how I incorporate it into my healthy lifestyle. The following is a list of the 5 principles that comprise clean eating for me. Hopefully it helps some of you figure out what clean eating means to you and how you can clean up your diet to live a happier and healthy lifestyle!
1. Eating TONS of fruits and vegetables.
And by tons, I mean at least 7-10 servings/day. These foods are nutritional powerhouses and are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, anti-cancer properties, and antioxidants. They are what should make up the most of our daily food intake. Adding variety to your fruits and vegetables helps you not get bored. These foods are also so versatile, with all the seasonings and toppings you can add. Vegetables can be used in salads, stir fry meals, casseroles, omelets...the possibilities are endless! You can eat fruit on its own or add it to salads, smoothies, or on top of oats. And with the internet resources available nowadays, you can ALWAYS find new recipes (on my blog or others!) in order to spice up your fruits and veggies and never get bored. So when you look down at your plate, at least half of it should be fruits and vegetables!
2. Limiting processed and packaged carbohydrate and high fat foods.
This one is pretty obvious, but cakes, cookies, sweets, candy bars, and even some "energy" bars out there are not considered clean eating for me. It's best to do without these foods since there is really no nuritional benefit in them. I also limit my intake of breads and pastas because there are so many more nutrient dense foods we could eat...such as those lovely fruits and vegetables I just talked about!
3. Having a balance of protein, carbs, and fats at every meal. When I look down at my plate, I always try to have some kind of protein, carb, and healthy fat. Protein can come from many sources, whether animal or plant based. What most people don't know is that fruits and vegetables count as carbohydrates too, and are the healthiest kind! For example, today my lunch was a veggie and quinoa stir fry.
Protein: quinoa (it's a complete protein!)
Carb: quinoa and veggies
Fat: all sautéed in olive oil
You can do chicken, rice, and veggies. Or soups with beans and vegetables with some avocado on top. Get creative!
4. Drink water throughout the day. I know we don't technically "eat" water, but staying hydrated greatly effects our health and eating habits. Many times, cravings that we get (especially afternoon craving) are our bodies way of telling us that we need hydration! Instead, we reach for a candy bar or some chips, or even Gatorade (which is mostly sugar and not the best choice) when our body actually wants plain, refreshing water.
5. Make sure to get healthy fats into your diet! Not all fat is bad. Avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and even egg yolks are all healthy fats that our body needs to function. Fats also helps keep us full and satisfied after our meals. Having about 1/4 cup servings of whole food fats (nuts, avocado) with a meal, or 1/2-1 tablespoon servings of oils with a meal, increases our fullness and is actually healthier for us!
Lastly, remember that heathy and clean eating is about a lifestyle. Occasional splurges are a delicious part of our lives! But if our diet is 80-90% clean most of the time, the treats that come and go won't make much of a difference in our overall health.
If you are interested in some one-on-one nutrition counseling to start eating clean and getting healthier, please do not hesitate to email me at TveenRD@gmail.com! I would love to encourage and support you on your healthy eating journey!
Have a happy Friday everyone!