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Clean Eating – What Is It, How To Eat Clean, Benefits, And Side Effects

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
Clean Eating – What Is It, How To Eat Clean, Benefits, And Side Effects November 26, 2018

#cleaneating is the newest buzz in the diet and nutrition industry (and on Instagram). The working principle of clean eating is that eating natural, whole foods and avoiding processed ones can help improve your overall health. But, many health experts are skeptical about the big claims of clean eating because this might be just another fad. Read on to know all about clean eating and if it is worth trying. Let’s begin!

Highlights Of The Article

What Is Clean Eating?

What Is Clean Eating Pinit

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Clean eating is a simple diet strategy of eating nutritious and whole foods and avoiding processed foods. Clean eating is not just a diet. It is also a way of living.

You will consume foods in their natural state, devoid of chemicals, and loaded with nutrients – like fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. And you will cut out processed or refined grains, foods with preservatives and additives, salty and sugary foods, and unhealthy fats and proteins.

Practice this eating habit regularly and cleanse your system. It will have a positive effect on your body and mind. Let’s take a look at the benefits of clean eating.

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Clean Eating Benefits

Here’s why you should practice eating clean:

  • No more frantically counting calories.
  • Get a truckload of dietary fiber (good carbs), lean protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals.
  • Strengthen your immunity.
  • Improve your gut function.
  • Alleviate constipation.
  • Improve the health of your skin, hair, and nails.
  • Weight loss.
  • You will feel revived and energetic.
  • Your mind will be calm.
  • No bloating.
  • You will sleep better.
  • Your mental stress levels will reduce.
  • You will be proactive at whatever you do.
  • Reduced risk of various lifestyle-related diseases.

So, you see, there are many reasons to eat clean. But, where do you start, and how do you go about it? Well, I have listed 10 clean eating strategies to help you out. Take a look.

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10 Clean Eating Strategies That Work

Clean Eating Strategies That Work Pinit

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1. Consume Fruits And Veggies

The WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommend consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Consuming fruits and veggies has also been associated with reduced weight and fewer health problems (1).

So, the first step to take, if you want to eat clean, is to start consuming at least 5 servings of assorted veggies and 3 servings of 3 different fruits per day.

2. Consume Unprocessed Whole Grains

According to the American Association of Cereal Chemists International and the FDA, whole grains are “intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grain whose principal components, the starchy endosperm, germ, and bran, are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain.” But “during the refining of whole grains into white flour, the outer bran and inner germ layers are removed and the remaining endosperm is processed into flour. Thus, compared with refined grains, whole grains are inherently richer in dietary fiber, containing ∼80% more dietary fiber than refined grains.”

Hence, it is best to consume nutritious, unprocessed whole grains as they help to lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer and aid weight loss (2).

Consume 3 servings (1 serving = 16 g) of whole grains per day. Include oats, wheat, barley, red rice, quinoa, brown rice, black rice, and corn in your diet.

3. Consume Lean Protein

Lean proteins like wild-caught fish, skinless chicken breast, lean cuts of grass-fed pork and beef, mushrooms, free-range eggs, edamame, and lentils are ideal.

Proteins are the building blocks, and you must consume a serving of protein with every meal. Also, proteins from animal and plant sources will prevent muscle loss (3).

4. Avoid All Kinds Of Processed Foods

Processed foods like sausage, salami, frozen foods, instant noodles, and ready-to-eat foods are a strict no-no. You should also avoid processed foods like packaged milk, baby spinach, chopped veggies, readymade flatbreads/pita bread, yogurt, cheese, and whole wheat pasta.

Most processed foods are low in nutrients and loaded with chemicals and preservatives. And since the goal of clean eating is to stay as close to Nature as possible, you must give up all the packaged junks in “healthy food” disguise.

5. Include Healthy Fats

Healthy fats like nuts, avocado, flax seeds, melon seeds, and sunflower seeds are great sources of healthy fats. You may also include homemade nut butter and virgin olive oil and rice bran oil for cooking.

Healthy fats are mostly unsaturated fats that help reduce inflammation in the body. And that, in turn, helps reduce inflammation-induced obesity.

6. Limit Added Sugar Consumption

Limiting added sugar in various processed and packaged foods will take care of many health issues like diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver, obesity, reduced brain function, and a few cancers.

While you are supposed to consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, bad food habits can make you consume as many as 25 teaspoons of sugar per day! Avoid foods (including salad dressings and sauces) that contain ingredients like dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose, concentrated fruit juice, molasses, invert sugar, etc. (5).

7. Take Care Of The Environment

By consuming more plant-based foods, limiting meat intake, and avoiding processed foods, you will help reduce the carbon print. You will help lower the use of herbicides and pesticides, reduce the practice of injecting hormones into fish and other meats, and decrease the level of air, water, and soil pollution.

8. Read The Label

Read the label. Not to see the calories but to see what ingredients are being tossed into the canned or packaged food that you are choosing to eat. You will find that most of these foods are loaded with preservatives and additives that are potentially harmful to your health in the long run.

9. Shop Along The Perimeter

The perimeter of any supermarket is where you get all the veggies, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. If you want to eat clean but get easily drawn to packaged food, it is best to avoid taking a round of those shelves until you establish clean eating as your new lifestyle.

10. More Than 10 Ingredients, Put It Back!

The more the number of ingredients in a food, the more dangerous it is. Kid you not! Processed foods have more number of ingredients to increase their shelf life, enhance their taste, and prevent them from getting spoiled.

So, while reading the label, if you find more than 10 ingredients, it best to put it back and opt for a substitute that has a lesser number of ingredients. Eat whole and pure foods – that’s the mantra.

Well, this may not look like a whole lot of burden, but practicing clean eating and making it a habit can be tough. But hey! Don’t let that bother you. Yes, you might slip a little in the beginning, but if you keep at it, you will soon establish a new eating habit that will make you feel amazing.

There’s a lot of buzz that clean eating can help you lose weight without counting calories. Is that true? Let’s find out!

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Can You Lose Weight By Eating Clean?

Can You Lose Weight By Eating Clean Pinit

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Yes, you will lose weight if you eat clean. Because you will consume

  • a lot of dietary fiber from fruits, veggies, whole grains, and nuts
  • lean proteins that will help you build muscle and boost your metabolism
  • healthy fats that will help balance the omega-6 and omega-3 ratio and lower inflammation and stress in your body.

You will also avoid a lot of foods that have more hidden calories (like added sugar) and salt (causes water retention in the body), which will aid weight loss even if you don’t work out regularly.

Great news, right? So, let’s take a quick look at the foods to eat and avoid.

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Foods To Eat – Clean Eating Grocery List

  • Veggies – Broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, beetroot, radish, radish greens, kale, chard, beet greens, scallions, lettuce, cabbage, bell peppers, cucumber, zucchini, tomato, arugula, ginger, garlic, fennel, celery, asparagus, onion, Brussels sprouts, and peas.
  • Fruits – Apple, blackberries, strawberries, apple, orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, plum, peach, avocado, kiwi, apricot, watermelon, honeydew melons, raspberries, papaya, banana, and pineapple.
  • Non-Dairy Milk – Almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and rice milk.
  • Animal Protein – Whole eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, tuna, trout, mackerel, shrimp, clam, mussels, skinless chicken breast, and lean cuts of beef and pork.
  • Plant Protein – Mushroom, dried lentils, tofu, edamame, soybeans, quinoa, mixed nuts, nut butter, navy beans, hummus, and soba noodles.
  • Whole Grains – Quinoa, whole barley, wheat, oat bran, buckwheat, Ezekiel bread, wild rice, brown rice, red rice, and black rice.
  • Fats And Oils – Tahini, almond butter, olive oil, flax seed oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, grapeseed oil, sesame seed oil, sunflower butter, and cashew butter.
  • Nuts And Seeds – Walnut, almond, chia, macadamia, pistachio, hazelnuts, pepita, flax seeds, and melon seeds.
  • Natural Sweeteners – Maple syrup, agave nectar, organic honey, and palm sugar.
  • Beverages – Water, coconut water, freshly pressed juices, and green tea/oolong tea.
  • Herbs And Spices – Cilantro, dill, sage, rosemary, bay leaf, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, coriander, parsley, nutmeg, mustard, paprika, chili powder, and Himalayan pink salt.
  • Others – Apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard.

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Foods To Avoid

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Packaged drinks
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Diet soda
  • Candies
  • Packaged ready-to-eat foods
  • Frozen foods
  • Fries
  • Fried chicken
  • Packaged chopped veggies
  • Salami
  • Sausage

It’s clear that all you’ve got to do is steer clear of all processed foods. And if you think that doing that is going to make your meals boring, you are wrong. Here are a few recipes that will make your mouth water instantly.

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Clean Eating Recipes

1. Berry Protein Breakfast Smoothie

Berry Protein Breakfast Smoothie Pinit

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Ingredients
  • ½ cup goji berries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup almond milk
How To Prepare
  1. Toss all the ingredients into a blender and blitz it.
  2. Pour the smoothie into a glass and garnish with a few goji berries.
  3. Enjoy a smooth, silky, and delicious breakfast smoothie!

2. Apple Walnut Tofu Salad

Apple Walnut Tofu Salad Pinit

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Ingredients
  • 1 cup home-grown or organic baby spinach
  • ½ red apple, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup tofu, crushed
  • A handful of dried cranberries
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
How To Prepare
  1. Toss the veggies and apple slices into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt on top.
  2. In another bowl, mix olive oil, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper and whisk well.
  3. Drizzle the dressing on top and give the salad a final toss.
  4. Top it with crush tofu and dried cranberries, and your salad is ready!

3. One Pot Lean Beef Stew

One Pot Lean Beef Stew Pinit

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Ingredients
  • ½ cup lean cuts of beef, cubed
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup cubed carrot
  • ½ cup chopped beetroot
  • ¼ onion, chopped
  • ½ inch ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • A handful of cilantro
  • 1 cup water
  • Slices of bread
How To Prepare
  1. Add olive oil to a soup pot and then add the beef.
  2. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger.
  4. Cover the lid and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the carrot and beetroot, salt, and pepper.
  6. Cover the lid and cook for 5 minutes more.
  7. Add the water, cover the lid, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Check if the beef is cooked. If not, cover and cook for 10 minutes more.
  9. Transfer the soup to a bowl.
  10. Garnish with cilantro, and your dinner’s ready!

Delicious, right? But there’s one thing you must know about clean eating. What is it? Find out next.

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Is Clean Eating Backed By Science?

No, the benefits of clean eating are not backed by science.

Yes, consuming veggies, fruits, and other whole foods will help you lose weight and lower the risk of various diseases. But many scientists believe that the concept of clean eating should be related to “healthy eating” and not “eating pure foods” or “avoiding dirty foods.”

Many others believe that the concept of clean eating may give rise to eating disorders. So, what precautions should you take? Find out next.

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Precautions

  • Treat clean eating as “healthy eating” and include all food groups in your diet to get balanced nutrition.
  • Do not get obsessed with eating only organic, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free foods. If you are gluten tolerant, go ahead and have a slice of bread. The more you treat food as your enemy, the worse it becomes.
  • Do not let clean eating make you anxious or depressed if you couldn’t stick to it. We are humans after all, and sometimes, we need a little piece of snack or pastry to feel good.

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Conclusion

Clean eating is a healthy eating and lifestyle concept that we encourage you to take up. But, with it comes the responsibility of eating mindfully. Choose good food, local fruits and veggies, and avoid trans fats, and you will be all good.

Nothing is set on stone, as they say. And today’s clean eating concept might get wiped away by a new nutrition revolution tomorrow. So, test and see if clean eating is something that you really enjoy and if it works for you. Consult your doctor, and if you get a green signal, go ahead and try it out. Cheers!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments box below.

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