Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
father of medicine, 431 B.C.
Eat Food. Not Too much. Mostly Plants.
renowned food expert and journalist, 2007 A.D.
COOKING TIPS / NUTRITION TIPS / WEIGHT LOSS AUGUST 31, 2015
The Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating
We know what healthy food looks like (or at least have some idea), so why is it challenging to eat healthy on a regular basis? Between a busy career, school, a significant other and kids—life happens, and suddenly our good intention to be healthier falls to the wayside.
Deep down we still want to develop sustainable, clean eating habits because we know our diet, or the culmination of foods we consistently choose over time, impacts the duration and quality of our life.
The leading causes of death—heart disease, cancer and stroke—in the U.S. are nutritionally related, and the rest of the developed world is not lagging far behind. Our health, weight, energy level, mood and even sleep are influenced by diet.
When it comes to food, nutrition and which diet really works best, there’s not much that all of us agree on. And with good reason! Nutrition is not one-size-fits-all, largely because our bodies all function a little bit differently. While a lower-carbohydrate diet may work exceptionally well for one individual trying to lose weight, it may not work for the next. On the other end of the spectrum, carb-loading may help one athlete more than others.
When it comes to achieving good health, and yes, even weight loss, there’s one common ingredient among all diets that have stood the test of time (such as lower-carbohydrate, vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean and the newer Paleo diets).
They all borrow on some or all of these clean eating strategies:
• Eat minimally processed foods, or foods made from minimally processed ingredients.
• Eat mostly plants and plant-based foods.
• Eat sparingly animals and animal products that eat mostly plants. (Not fed hormones, Non-GMO foods, wild caught fish)
Or to sum it up: Clean eating means choosing real food.
WHAT IS REAL FOOD?
No standard definition for “healthy” food actually exists, just like there’s no cookie-cutter definition for what it means to be healthy, but it shouldn’t stop us from defining what that means to us.
The current packaging trends have “healthy, “all natural” labeled on almost all packing today.
“Real food” has no official definition but embodies what a general healthy eating pattern could look like without using airy terms like “balanced,” “honest” and “genuine” to describe it (because who really knows what they mean?).
Real food is simple.
It hasn’t gone through a ton of processing to get from the ground to your plate.
Here’s what that looks like:
• Filtered Water Not from plastic bottle
• Lean non-GMO meats, like chicken, turkey (not deli turkey/high sodium)
• Whole grains (Non white starches)
• Stevia rather than other sweeteners
• Dark Chocolate and Wine count, too—just enjoy them in moderation!
[Start] Richard Tip:
• Eat at home so you can control the ingredients in your meal.
• Eat organic foods if you can afford it. No pesticides, fertilizers used.
• No dairy to reduce inflammation and bloating (no cheese, milk, yogurt etc.)
• No margarine, hydrogenised spreads.
• Natural Peanut, Almond, Safflower Butters where oil separates.
• No sugar
• No flour
• No rich gravies, use salt free herbs/spices instead
• Eat lean red meat including hamburger (4% or 8% Fat) once a month or less
• Meat: 4 oz or less per serving (deck of cards size)
• Meat: chicken, turkey, wild caught salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout
• Starches: Brown Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Multi Grain, Whole Wheat Pasta or Quinoa Pasta, Quinoa
• One cup coffee a day (Creamer = Almond Creamer, Stevia for sweetner)
• No alcohol
• No carbonated beverages
• 8-12 Glasses Water A Day (64-96 oz) (Variety: add Lemons, Limes, Cucumber Slices)
• Eat rainbow of vegetables
• Romaine, Argula, Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy
• Limit nuts to 8 almonds, walnuts, etc a day
• Better to eat five 200 calorie “meals” spread throughout the day than 1/2/3 meals/day.
• Drink ½ smoothies a day with Vega Sports Performance Protein, Now Physillum Husk, 1 tsb Olive Oil.
• Oils: Extra Virgin Olive Oil (not heated), Avocado Oil for cooking, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
• No fried foods
• No French Fries, No Fried Onion Rings (very high in Omega 6 causing artery restriction)
• Make Salad your main meal of day
• Limit eggs
• Limit Sodium Intake
• Watch canned foods: Lining of cans has BHA that the body cannot process.
• Are we having fun?
[End] Richard Tip:
Real food is not processed food.
Real food is not processed food. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, MD, founder of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, processed food meets these seven criteria:
2. consistent batch to batch
3. consistent country to country
4. specialized ingredients from specialized companies
5. nearly all macronutrients are pre frozen (which means that the fiber is usually removed)
6. emulsified (fat and water don’t separate)
7. long shelf or freezer life
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, processed foods, I need the convenience! I like the taste.”
Yes, processed foods can be one of the safest foods on the planet in terms of germs, and that’s great for the short-term. Eating processed foods now and then won’t kill you, but you should really focus on eating mostly real foods if you’re concerned about your long-term health.
Food programs our bodies. Junk in, poor nutrition over time equals health problems and early death. Most everyone should have heard of this by now…..
FIVE REASONS TO EAT CLEAN.
1. Eat “healthier” without thinking about it. It’s useful to think of food as nutrients (macro- and micronutrients) so we can better understand our body. When it comes to healthy eating, it’s more useful to think of food simply as food. Choosing “real” foods lets you eat healthier from a nutrient perspective without thinking too much about nutrients.
2. Redefine your relationship with food. Do you find yourself labeling food as “good” or “bad” based on a predefined notion of what healthy eating looks like? Nothing should always be that black and white, least of all a healthy relationship with food. Choosing real foods forces you to reevaluate the foods you think are healthy (aka processed foods labeled “low fat,” “sugar-free” and so forth). That being said, if you’re willing to buy real food ingredients to bake a cake, you should be able to enjoy a slice of dessert without a side of guilt.
3. Get the most nutrients out of the foods you’re eating. Processing foods usually removes or destroys valuable nutrients. Heat (cooking) kills nutrition also. Eat raw vegetables/fruits as much as you can. Choosing mostly real foods helps you maximize the nutrients you get from the foods you eat.
4. Cook, connect and celebrate with friends and family. Since real foods come in the most natural form, it pushes you to be creative in preparing and cooking your meals. Cooking is an essential skill when it comes to living a healthy life. Since good food is a cause for celebration, get your friends and family members involved if you can. Make meal preparation fun and easy.
Smoothies, stir-frys, raw, salads. spices and fresh herbs. Think protein, vegetable and fruit on plate minus starch. Lose weight.
5. Live a longer, healthier life. “You are what you eat” is a simple mantra capturing the impact that diet quality has on your quality of life. Eating mostly real foods will decrease your chances of getting a debilitating chronic disease like heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer. After all, the goal of being physically healthy is to live a long life whilst avoiding these pitfalls.
THREE STEP PLAN TO EAT CLEAN
Home-cooking is at the heart of healthy eating, especially if it involves real food. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Save and organize your favorite recipes. Gather recipes from your favorite cookbooks, food bloggers or the internet at large. Rotate through the recipes as you plan your weekly or monthly meal calendar. If you’re not the planning type, having these recipes on hand will help inspire your cooking adventures.
Choose recipes that use healthy cooking techniques. Delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated; if you’re a beginner cook, choose recipes with 10 ingredients or less. To make your home-cooking even healthier, be mindful about how much sugar, sodium and cooking oil you’re adding to your foods.
Here’s a list of common additions you should use mindfully to keep your home-cooked meal healthy:
ADDED SUGAR ADDED SODIUM ADDED FAT
– Granulated sugar
– Brown sugar
– Maple syrup
– Agave syrup – Salt
– Baking powder
– Baking soda
– Condiments (hot sauce, mustard, barbecue sauce) – Canola oil
– Olive oil
– Vegetable oil
– Peanut oil
[Start] Richard Tip: HIGHER STANDARD: ALL ABOVE–>DO NOT EAT.
Two exceptions: Olive Oil and Condiments: Watch sugar and tons of added ingredients. If you cannot pronounce the ingredient. Do not buy product. Google “Best Olive Oil Brands” while at store and buy the one listed. Most are inferior grade.
[End] Richard Tip:
Keep honing your cooking skills! No one is born an amazing cook, so if you fail at your cooking ploys, remember to learn from them. If you’re a beginner, read these resources to learn more on how to plan and prep your meals:
Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning and Meal Prep.
Stocking up on real foods is a good first step, especially if you plan to eat more of it. Check out these pointers to help you shop real at the grocery store:
Skim the perimeter of the grocery store. It’s where real food lives. We suggest you prioritize the following aisles: fresh produce, meat and seafood. After you’ve loaded your cart, you can proceed to the center aisle for other necessities, just be sure to keep your eye on ingredient lists. Less is more! Most aisles do not need to be walked unless for exercise.
Go to the store with a grocery list. Grocery-shopping with a list is your plan for success, because you’ll know exactly what to grab and be less inclined to buy processed convenience food. Ideally, your list should reflect the recipes you intend to prep for the week.
Pick up some handy, real food snacks that require minimal prepping and no recipes.
Here are some ideas:
NO PREP SNACKS MINIMAL PREP SNACKS
– Fresh fruit
– Unsweetened dried fruit
– Raw nuts
– Dark chocolate
– Baby carrots
– Cherry tomatoes
– Whole-grain crackers
– Celery sticks
– Bell pepper sticks
– Hard-boiled eggs
Think outside the grocery store! If you live near a local farmer’s market, go check it out! Farmer’s markets are a good place for you to buy and support local produce, sometimes at a fraction of what you’d pay in a brand-name grocery store. For more information, check out “Real Food Sources.”
Grabbing food on the go can be unavoidable, and we get that. Here are some strategies to choose healthier dishes and keep your food real:
Avoid fast-food and chain restaurants. The majority of meals made by these establishments contain processed foods (nuggets, patties), that use additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers and artificial coloring. If possible, choose restaurants whose main selling point is local, fresh ingredients.
Use the cooking technique as your tip-off. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but it works well when you’re trying to choose healthier fare. Choose dishes that are baked, steamed, sauteed, roasted or boiled. Try to avoid items that are fried, deep-fried or drenched in heavy, cream-based sauces.
Check out the menu before you go. If possible, browse through the restaurant’s menu online first. Choose two to three options that look good to you, making it more likely you’ll make the healthier choice.
What does “real” food look like to you? Share your opinions in the comments below.
Tags: clean eating diet nutrition weight loss
Trinh Le, MPH, RD
Trinh Le is a registered dietitian for MyFitnessPal. She holds her master’s in public health, nutrition from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Trinh is a proponent of balancing food and exercise for a healthy lifestyle. She enjoys hiking, strength training, yoga, running and fidgeting.
Richard Taylor BS, CAMF, CART, CLYL, CLWI
Richard Taylor has investigated and lived it all. Weight Watchers. Atkins Diet – Heart Attack Survivor, Vegetarian, Vegan, Body Builder Diet Program, 5:2 Diet, RAW, Mix diet. Now more Holistic Medicine and Plant Based Nutrition based with limited meat/fish, little dairy, minimal starch diet. Live longer, eat clean. He enjoys reading, simple living, less is more, organic gardening, foreign movies, hiking, camping, social meet-ups, tiny home movement, sustainability living, emotional intelligence mindful living, campfires, laughter yoga, story-telling and listening, learning and laughing daily. He loves children.
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