I often have clients and friends ask me about the phenomenon known as clean eating. ‘So… do you eat clean?’, they all want to know.
The answer is – I’m not sure! I am not really certain where the term clean eating came from. I did some of my own social ‘research’, I have realized that, clean eating definitions differ from one ‘health expert’ to another.
What appears to be a common theme however, is the lack of processed foods these diets prescribe to… which makes me think that clean eating is most simply following a whole foods way of eating.
Personally I generally subscribe to a whole foods way of eating, as I know that the more food is in its natural form, the better it is for our bodies. No one can dispute that!
Eating Whole foods is not about restricting what you eat, or applying ‘rules’ to your food. It is also not about eating low fat or low carb. What it IS about, is eating mindfully, eating intuitively and choosing to eat REAL foods.
How to recognise whole foods and include them every day:
• Whole foods that are more a product of nature, and less a product of industry.
• Fresh fruits and vegetables are whole foods
• Dairy products including unsweetened yogurt, milk (skim, low fat and whole milk) eggs, and cheese. In contrary to some beliefs, in Australia, full cream milk is not less processed than low fat or skim milk
• When choosing grain based foods, look for whole-wheat or whole-grains. You can usually see the grains, and the more the better!
• Seafood – fresh, local and caught using sustainable practices is preferable. Try to shop locally for seafood if you can rather than in big chain stores where it is often imported and frozen.
• Locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and in moderation! 120 grams of red meat is sufficient in a main meal)
• Beverages limited to water, milk, freshly squeezed an unsweetened juices (in moderation), unsweetened coffee & tea, and, to help the adults keep their sanity, wine and beer!
• Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts.
• All natural sweeteners including honey and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation, and appropriate to cook with.
What is NOT considered a whole food, and what to avoid:
• Refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat)
• Any foods with artificial colours, flavors, or preservatives added.
• Refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice and all the artificial sugars.
• Shakes, powders, diet bars or drinks… no matter how many promises they make!
• A general rule could be: Eat nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label.
• Deep fried foods or takeaway foods.
SO, as you can see, it is not about eating ‘clean’ (or dirty?) for me, its about avoiding the high salt, sugar, saturated fat, preservatives and colours that are associated with packaged foods.
Now, I am a realist, and I know that there are times when it is appropriate to have processed foods (birthday cakes are an obvious one, and we have a had quite a few of them lately!). I enjoy chocolate every now and then, or even a prepackaged biscuit with my yea. I also know that if you get yourself organized, and prioritise your own health and that of your family, you will quickly find that it is not that hard to enjoy a whole foods way of life. Your body will thank you, I promise!