I get questions all the time about clean eating. Over the past few years it’s become one of those diet buzz words that you hear everywhere. It seems that a lot of the confusion stems from the belief that it’s a restrictive diet plan requiring you to eat all organic foods all the time. I can see where that would be a major turn off for many people. But that’s not the reality of it at all! Clean eating is not a fad, but a lifestyle and way of fueling your body the way it was meant to be fueled. It doesn’t have to be more expensive, all organic or tasteless!
Let’s address some of the most common questions regarding clean eating:
- What does clean eating mean? You’ll find many variations of the meaning of clean eating. Simply put, it means eating as close to nature as possible – foods like vegetable fruits, whole grains and healthy proteins. That means staying away from processed and junk foods. Your body knows how to process real foods like fruits and vegetables but was not designed to deal with artificial ingredients. These artificial ingredients end up getting stored in the body, adding weight. This article explains more in detail. A general rule of thumb I use is that if you can explain where the food comes from and can read all of the ingredients, your body will understand it too.
- Do I have to eat all organic fruits and vegetables? Nope! Organic can be cost-prohibitive in some cases. While organic is best, there is more of a benefit to eating certain organic foods. For example, bananas have a thick outer cover that isn’t eaten so it’s not as important to buy organic. But grapes are eaten skin and all so you would want to buy organic to avoid the pesticides that have come into direct contact with the food.
- Do I have to give up meat and become vegetarian? Absolutely not! There are lots of good protein sources besides meat but you can definitely still include meat in a clean diet. With meats, it’s a good idea to purchase all natural – grass fed beef, free range chickens, etc. Key words to look for are antibiotic- and hormone-free.
- How do I get started? Start by making simple changes. Replace one unhealthy food with a healthy one. Spend more time in the produce department and try new fruits and vegetables. Find new recipes that appeal to you (check out our Pinterest board for some ideas). Try a different way of cooking your favorite foods – instead of frying chicken, try baking or grilling it. Start reading labels to learn about what is in your food – some ingredients will shock you when you look more into them.
- Will I lose weight by eating clean? You may find that replacing the foods you currently eat with real foods that you lose weight. Processed and fast foods are loaded with fat and calories. Most vegetables are calorie dense, allowing you to eat lots of them.
- Is clean eating more expensive? This one is difficult to answer. Some clean foods are more expensive on the grocery budget than certain pre-packaged convenience foods. But those foods can be considered an investment in your health. Buying foods in season can save lots of money. This list shows which foods are in season.
- Are there certain rules to follow? No, not at all. Clean eating isn’t a diet – it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a quick weight loss solution but it can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. You will find many variations of clean eating such as Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, etc, but there isn’t a “right” choice. It’s not restrictive and there are no caloric guidelines that you need to follow. It’s simply choosing real foods that fuel your body. And you don’t have to be perfect with it or maintain it 100%. Maintaining an 80/20 ratio is a good rule of thumb (read more about that here).
- Do you have any tips and tricks to share? Yes!
Do you have questions about clean eating? Feel free to ask in the comments below!