Clean eating sounds good, but what does it really mean, and how difficult is it to get started? Basically, clean eating means eating foods in the most natural, least processed form. If your food is any different than how it would be found in nature (other than a rinse or chop), then it has been processed. But not all processing is created equal. For the most part, your eating will still be "clean" as long as you avoid ultra-processed foods. The more that a food is processed, the more it loses nutrients and the higher the risk of other health issues. We also have to be careful because the more we eat processed foods, the more we crave them.
Chances are, you'll be doing a lot of fruit, veggie and meat slicing and dicing while clean eating. You might consider adding a cutting board door mount inside one of your cabinets for quick and easy access. A pullout waste container nearby can also help make for easy cleanup as you chop.
So what exactly can you eat? Think raw or frozen fruits and veggies and nuts. Protein is not off-limits. Wild-caught and grass-fed protein sources are the way to go, as they are the least processed, and you'll want to avoid grain-fed and farm-raised meats. In general, shopping the perimeter of the grocery store will keep you on the right track. If you go into the aisles for packaged items such as pasta, look for whole grains and read the nutritional label — the fewer ingredients listed, the better, and you should be able to recognize them all.
Another part of clean eating is how often you eat. It's better for your body to process 5 or 6 small meals per day rather than 2 or 3 large meals. You'll also want to drink plenty of water throughout the day. For snacking, you might add baskets on rails inside your cabinets for grab-and-go fresh produce.
Seeing as additives aren't part of clean eating, it's best to eat foods raw when possible. However, if you need to cook something, steaming is the best option. Oils aren't necessarily bad, but adding oil to your foods in order to cook them can change the overall nutritional value.
And with the holidays behind us, this is the perfect time to get started on your clean eating efforts!
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