How To Eat Clean
1. It will reduce a lot of the bad stuff (trans fats, salt, refined sugars) that tend to be present in processed foods, and
2. The less processed a food is, the more nutrients (fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) it tends to retain.
The processing of grains into white or refined products, e.g. white flour, white rice – strips important dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals from the grain, essentially only leaving carbohydrates that are quick to be absorbed by the body, and don’t fill you up the way wholegrain varieties (brown rice, wholegrain breads) do.
Cut down on added sugars
Pretty much all of us are guilty of eating too much sugar. Sugars that are naturally contained in foods such as fruit, vegetables and dairy come along with a range of important dietary nutrients that contribute to our health and should continue to be enjoyed. This is not, however the case for refined cane sugars and added sugars in many processed foods. High intakes of these refined sugars are linked with risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels. When you want a sweet treat, reach for fresh fruit for a natural sugar fix or experiment with natural sweeteners such as date sugar or rice malt syrup.
Go easy on the alcohol
Okay, you are trying to be a Clean Eater. Yes, some studies show that small amounts of alcohol may offer some health benefits, but such findings have been challenged. What we do know for sure is that heavy drinking offers no health benefits (National Health & Medical Research Council, Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults 2013). Alcohol puts stress on your liver, as well as acting as a diuretic, making it harder to stay hydrated. If you are going to drink, try to stick to one and don’t drink every day.
Focus on the good oils
Finally the message of good vs. bad fats is getting through. After decades of diets focusing on low-fat or no-fat options, even the strictest clean eaters recognize the importance of healthy, unsaturated fats in your diet. Just be sure that it is coming from high quality, cold-pressed oils (e.g. olive, coconut), nuts, seeds, avocado and fish.
Make fruits and vegetables your very best friends
Last, but certainly not least, clean eaters should be making fresh fruits and vegetables their nutritional priority. Not only do they add a lot of flavor and colour to meals, they’re nutrient- and antioxidant-rich, low in calories and can help lower your risk for heart disease.
Experiment and explore
No doubt the biggest nutritional benefit you will achieve from your clean eating regime is actually increasing the number of new, healthy foods you regularly include in your diet. The essence of clean eating is trying new, healthy foods and improving recipes to make them healthier (and then sharing pics of your efforts on Instagram). Dietary variety is by far one of the most important nutritional goals in order to achieve optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, dietary fats and fibre – just be careful if you start cutting out whole food groups (and also ask yourself exactly how many Instagram posts your followers need to see of your meals each day).
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