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The Basics of Clean Eating
BY SOPHIE LEAVER
HEALTH & WELLBEING WRITER
Every day we are bombarded with an overwhelming array of unhealthy food choices: products laden with sugars, chemicals, additives, and preservatives. Our supermarkets are even littered with junk foods disguised as healthy foods through deceptive marketing. Our food is processed, packaged, shipped and preserved to within an inch of its natural life, and the ingredients lists seem increasingly long and incomprehensible.
What is clean eating?
It’s little surprise that people feel overburdened with choice, and end up blowing their budget on poor food choices, or turning to drastic and complicated diets to compensate. Our diets are suffering from a chronic disconnect from their natural source. The easiest and most beneficial thing we can do for the earth and for ourselves is to seek out ingredients in their most natural, whole, and unprocessed state. This is the premise behind ‘clean eating’- becoming more conscious of what you put into your body, where it’s from, how it was made, and how it makes you feel. Eating clean isn’t about finding low-fat, low-calorie, processed options in order to stay thin. Instead, it’s about finding nourishing ingredients that feed not only our bodies, but our skin, our mind, our energy levels and our overall immunity.
Eating clean is simple
Changing your diet can be daunting, but the great thing about the clean eating lifestyle is its simplicity. Sourcing fresh, seasonal ingredients is the first step, and building meals and snacks will stem from there. Making the following small changes is the simplest way to start:
Replace white sugar with natural sweeteners such as maply syrup, organic honey, coconut palm sugar, or stevia. Medjool dates are also a delicious alternative that can be used in moderation to replace sugars when baking. Even natural sugars must be used in moderation, though, so be careful not to fall into the trap of allowing yourself unlimited portions of something just because it’s a healthier alternative.
Swap processed grains, such as white bread and rice, with more wholesome alternatives such as rye, quinoa or brown rice. You’ll feel noticeable effects on your energy, weight, and digestion.
3. Herbs & Spices
Use herbs and spices to flavour your food, rather than packaged stocks, salts, or sauces etc. For example, making your own fresh tomato sauce with herbs will taste much more fresh and delicious than a store-bought one which will be packed with artificial flavours and preservatives. Similarly, swap a pre-bought stir fry sauce for fresh ginger, garlic, chilli and coconut oil.
Preparation is key
Clean eating is about being prepared. Having a fridge stocked with healthy essentials will help you stay on track. However, it’s not meant to be a lifestyle of deprivation, so eating out and enjoying occasional treats is part of a balanced lifestyle. However, cooking at home more often will help you to understand what goes onto your plate, and help you develop an active role in your own food choices. This is a great way to build up a healthy relationship with food, encouraging your partner or family to support you, and join in on your journey. There’s no need to feel isolated, left out, tired, bored, or even hungry. By feeding your body with nourishing, balanced foods, it will feel satisfied and won’t crave the artificial sweets it used to cry out for when it needed energy. Our bodies adapt, and we crave more of what we feed ourselves. So eliminating junk foods, and replacing them with fresh, abundant, nutritious ingredients allows our bodies to adjust and crave more natural, healthy options.
As you become familiar with wholesome, fresh ingredients and how to prepare them, you can experiment with more superfoods, supplements, and smoothies. There are endless recipe books, blogs, and instagram accounts that encourage a growing global community of people following a clean lifestyle. What may have started as a diet trend of 2015 is undoubtedly now a sustainable, affordable, and extremely enjoyable way to approach every corner of your life!
However, it’s not meant to be a lifestyle of deprivation, so eating out and enjoying occasional treats is part of a balanced lifestyle. There’s no need to feel isolated, left out, tired, bored, or even hungry. By feeding your body with nourishing, balanced foods, it will feel satisfied and won’t crave the artificial sweets it used to cry out for when it needed energy. Our bodies adapt, and we crave more of what we feed ourselves. So eliminating junk foods, and replacing them with fresh, abundant, nutritious ingredients allows our bodies to adjust and crave more natural, healthy options.
Looking beyond food choices
Eating clean encourages making healthy changes to your overall lifestyle. Once you start noticing how your body thrives on a clean, wholesome diet, you’ll want to maintain that balance elsewhere, by shedding the toxic build-up in other parts of your everyday life.
- • Stress
Firstly, you can try to slowly rid your life of stress, which is toxic, ageing, and can cause chronic physical trauma over a long time. You can eliminate stress by adding meditation, yoga, and simple relaxation techniques into your schedule.
- • Decluttering
Next, you may feel a newfound sense of calm by decluttering your surroundings, using organic or natural cleaning products for your home where possible.
Your skincare regimen can also be overhauled, turning to nourishing, natural, plant-based products that treat your skin rather than zap it with chemicals.
- • Relationships
On an even deeper level, you may feel a huge sense of relief and energy by finding a fresh perspective on the relationships in your life. Sometimes we fall into patterns in our relationships, just as we do in our diets, where we make bad choices or stick to bad habits because we don’t know how to change. Taking time to consider our relationships, and tactfully distancing ourselves from those which are no longer right for us, or mutually stimulating and supportive, can be extremely rewarding and liberating. Healthy living may very well start in the kitchen, but it certainly does not stop there.
What may have started as a diet trend of 2015 is undoubtedly now a sustainable, affordable, and extremely enjoyable way to approach every corner of your life!