We see this phrase on the internet, fitness and health magazines. It is easy for a trainer, fitness personnel or nutritionist etc. to understand clean-eating and healthy living; however, an ordinary person who isn’t familiar with the fitness lifestyle would probably think that it means eating clean and washed food ;).
First of all, ‘clean eating’ is not a diet. To eat clean means consuming whole foods and foods in its most natural state.
Foods labelled “fat free, sugar-free, diet food” etc. aren’t necessarily healthy or should I say “clean”. These products contain artificial sweeteners and heavily processed ingredients which is the opposite of healthy.
For many, carbohydrates and fats are off-limits and it shouldn’t be. Our bodies require carbohydrates and dietary fats for many bodily functions including brain health, hormones, skin and hair health and much more. The key is choosing the right type of foods for optimal health. The type of food which is regarded as clean food includes whole foods such as fruits and vegetables. Choose food such as sweet potatoes and pumpkin over refined breads. Eliminate processed meat from your diet. Rather opt for lean, hormone-free sources of meat and chicken. Good sources of fats are the healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados. Saturated fats and Trans fats are a no-go.
When following a clean diet, it doesn’t mean that you have to cut out sugar completely. It is the processed sugar that you should stay away from. Consume natural sugars such as organic honey, maple syrup and stevia… in moderation.
Be wary of the ingredients in the products you purchase. Just because a certain product is labelled as “natural” or “whole grain”, it doesn’t always mean that it is good for you.
Here is a tip: if it has 5 ingredients or less, then it is okay. If you read the label and cannot pronounce or don’t know what the ingredients are, you should probably just give it a pass.
Hydration! It is optimal to keep hydrated… by consuming water. No soda’s and empty/sugary drinks, stick to pure water. If you’re not a fan of water, have some fun with water infusions e.g. add lemon slices, orange slices, berries, cucumber and ginger and many more to your water for a tasty twist. These yummy add-in’s might actually make you want to consume more H2o :).
Now that you have an outlook on clean eating. I’d like to share my personal experience regarding diet.
Before learning about nutrition and healthy living, I had a different perception on what ‘healthy eating’ was about. My typical eating plan would have looked like something like this:
Breakfast – banana + yoghurt
lunch – chicken and rice cake
snack – apple
dinner – vegetables and rye bread.
This eating plan does seem pretty much healthy, right? Carbohydrates and fats were the enemies in my diet as I was afraid that it would just be stored on my body. I lost a lot of weight by eating this way. However, I had been suffering from constipation most of the time; my skin was dull and pale; my cuticles and skin were dry; and my hair didn’t look healthy.
I was eating healthy food but I sure didn’t feel very ‘healthy’.
Through experience and my studying, I’ve come to understand that...
1. Following a healthy diet does NOT mean restricting calories and under-eating. There are many people out there who are under-eating because they are trying to lose weight. Eating less than your body actually requires will cause your body to store fat. Let me explain: when your body is not getting sufficient nutrition, it goes into a “starvation mode” where it will burn fewer calories and ultimately be storing whatever you consume. Radically your metabolism slows down. Without adequate nutrition, one’s immune system weakens. This means that you will be much more prone to catching a cold or the flu. The effects of under-eating is numerous, I have just mentioned a few. You should eat small meals every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism up and ensure that your body is getting the required nutrients throughout the day.
2. Never eliminate food groups. We do require carbohydrates and fats in our diets! Fats are essential for hormone production, healthy skin, hair and nails. Adding good fats to your diet also assist with a healthy digestive system. Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of fuel. Proteins, vitamins and minerals are vital for the body to function properly and repair cells.
Here are some examples in choosing the right foods:
|GOOD CARBOHYDRATE CHOICES||BAD CARBOHYDRATES (AVOID/LIMIT)|
|Vegetables||Sweets and chocolates|
|Oats||White bread; pasta; rice|
|Brown rice||Processed products (e.g. cereals, potato chips etc)|
|GOOD FATS||BAD FATS|
|Coconut oil||Sunflower oil and other processed oils|
|Olive oil||Trans fats (fried stuff)|
|GOOD PROTEIN/DAIRY CHOICES||BAD PROTEIN/DAIRY CHOICES|
|Lean chicken||Full fat cheese|
|Lean meat and beef||Ground beef|
|Low fat milk and cheese|