Sunday, April 10, 2016

Are you eating “clean”?

What does eating “clean” mean?  Is it healthier eating, a fad?   Some people have confused clean eating with very faddish and sometimes bizarre recommendations.  Basically the term, “eating clean” means you are eating whole foods, foods from the farm with less added fat, added sugar and eating less junk food.   There actually is a book, Eating Clean for Dummies  that describe the principles of “eating clean”.   They even have an Eating Clean Cheat Sheet to provide the basic principles of “eating clean”.  So how can you “eat clean”?
  1.   Focus on whole foods, the ones that come straight from the farm.   Choose less processed foods.  Choose whole fruits, whole vegetables, and whole grains.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are good, but frozen is also a good choice, canned beans are a good way to add beans to your diet or buy Hummus.
  •  Whole apple vs apple juice
  •  Fresh fruit cup vs fruit cocktail from the can
  • Baked potato vs French fries
  • Whole grain cereal for breakfast, whole grain bread for sandwiches, whole grain buns.
  • Eat a handful of nuts a day
  • Choose low fat milk, low fat yogurt. 
 2.  Avoid or limit processed food.  Hard to do in America as most of the grocery store is processed foods.  Shop the exterior of the store for the healthier choices.  Look at the ingredient list and avoid foods with chemicals and additives you can’t pronounce. 

3.Avoid or cut back on refined sugar.  Sugar comes in many forms – white table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar.  It is very difficult to buy foods with no added sugar.  Manufacturers seem to add sugar to everything, many cereals, most breads, even catsup.  You want to avoid “added sugar” not the natural sugar found in milk and fruit but the sugar manufacturers add  when processing food.  Read the ingredient list to find out if sugar has been added.  If sugar is the first ingredient, the food is mostly sugar.

4. Cook more meals at home – eating at home can be a much healthier option.  You can add some whole grain spaghetti to spaghetti night, can choose some spaghetti sauce with no added sugar, can make a salad loaded with greens and add in olives, green pepper, carrot strips, mushrooms.  Add whole grain bread and fresh fruit for a very healthy meal.  At home you can sauté vegetables and lessen the fat in a meal.  You can control the salt and the sugar added to foods.   

5.    Eat MyPlate meals.   Make your meals look like MyPlate to ensure you are getting all the food groups and thus the nutrients you need each day.  Focus snacks on 2-3 of the food groups for a healthier snack.  Hummus and carrots, apples and peanut butter, whole grain crackers and low fat cheese.  
 Review the Eating Clean Cheat Sheet for more ways to eat healthier and simpler. 
Sources:  Eating Clean Cheat Sheet, MyPlate, Image source:  Eating Clean 

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