WHAT IS CLEAN EATING?

 

It all starts in your kitchen.

 

Clean eating is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days, and it is without specific scientific or culinary definition.  The overall concept: eat food in as close to its natural state as possible.  Sounds simple enough, but how realistic is it?

 

Clean eating is about transparency: reading labels and being mindful of your own personal connection to food by understanding where the ingredients come from and what process they went through to get from the farm to the table.  It’s about cooking more, so you’re in control of what goes into your body.  It’s about putting food on a plate, not eating out of a bag, so that you see what you’re eating.

 

It’s the ingredients and additives we can’t see that are making our food less wholesome and less clean.  If only markets were filled with goods found in the perimeter of the grocery store.  Instead, they’re packed with boxes and bags of prepackaged food, making the decision to eat clean more difficult than ever.

 

Most clean eating plans are cluttered with too many rules.  Instead, follow this guide to clean.  You’ll naturally start to eat cleaner every day.

 

Cook More.  The act of cooking and following a recipe empowers you to control exactly what goes into your body.  That’s where many of the recipes you’ll find on our website can help.  Cooking allows you to cut back on the amount of salt and added sweeteners, and to remove preservatives and artificial flavors and colors as well as trans-fats (partially hydrogenated oils) from your plate.  It can be quick and easy, too!  About 80% of our recipes take 25-40 minutes start to finish.

Balance Your Plate.  Make half of your plate vegetables and fruit.  Why?  To guarantee that most of your meal is made from whole foods.  Shop the farmer’s market, local produce stands or, even better, grow your own.  Not only is local food in season, but it’s also more flavorful, more nutritious, and less likely to be modified or grown with pesticides.  Make whole or ancient grains your default.  Whole grains contain more healthy oils, fiber and protein than refined grains.  Go lean with protein: The USDA recommends 5-6 ounces of meat per day for most men and women.  (The average American consumes nearly double that, about 12 ounces.)  Limit your portions to 3.5-4 ounces, and include more seafood and plant-based protein.  Look for meat that is grass-fed, raised without antibiotics or hormones, and preferably sold without an ingredient list.

Look at the ingredient list.  The shorter the list, the better.  Aim for fewer than 10 ingredients and focus on the first few items listed.  Ingredients are listed in order of weight, meaning that the product is made predominantly from the ingredient that is listed first.  Fill your pantry with supermarket products such as grains and spices from bulk bins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and locally raised meat: all foods that don’t carry a label.

Sit, savor, share, and slow down.  All too often we eat mindlessly everywhere but the table, valuing volume of food over quality of ingredients and even taste.  Spread the love of cleaner eating by sharing with others.

Sidney Fry, MS, RD