Eat Clean In 2015
By Leah Lancione
Now that 2015 is well underway, if you haven’t dedicated yourself to a resolution to eat healthier, maybe now is the time to make a late start on that commitment. The decision to eat “clean” is a pledge that will show results in no time. Your arteries, joints, skin and digestive tract will thank you. Not to mention, your doctor will be pleased.
So what does eating “clean” entail? Well, eating clean means consuming more plant-based meals, eliminating or reducing processed foods, which contain a lot of hard-to-pronounce and unnatural ingredients, from your diet, reducing salt intake, choosing whole grains and drinking more water. Eating more fruits and vegetables means cutting calories while taking in more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Adding more whole grains like brown rice over white, sprouted grain and whole grain bread instead of enriched white or wheat bread will also enhance your nutrition. For example, when given the opportunity to choose a whole food over a highly processed, factory-made product, opt for the whole food. Choose an actual orange over orange juice that has added ingredients, or, even worse, an orange-flavored drink.
Seriously cut out processed ingredients by replacing boxed white pastas with something like spaghetti squash or quinoa, which is high in protein and gluten-free. Not to mention, you can start the day right by having a breakfast with whole steel-cut oats over oatmeal, a processed cereal or (gasp) something that has nothing but empty calories and sugar, like pop tarts or donuts.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently published a Food Scores tool available as an app for a smart phone or via Google Play. Visit www.ewg.org to download this tool that rates “what’s on your plate” in terms of nutritional value, ingredient concerns (such as what pesticides, food additives or contaminants that are listed) and whether items are whole or processed.
Eating clean should be paired with drinking clean. Why sabotage your healthy eating habits by downing a soda or drinking coffee with artificial (and highly processed) creamers? If you want your morning cup of coffee or afternoon tea, swap artificial creamer for almond milk or almond milk creamer or coconut milk. Ditch sugar for Stevia. Also, try sipping healthy, metabolism-boosting green tea that’s loaded with antioxidants as your hot beverage of choice.
Now, to get to the real heart of the matter. It’s time to drink more water to keep the body hydrated and to flush out toxins. The health and lifestyle website Popsugar (www.popsugar.com) says sipping cold water even helps you burn calories.
WebMD (www.webmd.com/diet/eat-clean-diet) also offers a list of five “eat clean principles” that will put you on the path to health and wellness this year:
- Eat six small meals day.
- Eat breakfast within an hour of waking.
- Eat lean protein such as salmon, beans or lentils — and complex carbohydrates like whole grains and legumes at every meal.
- Have two or three servings of healthy fats including raw nuts or avocados a day.
- Make sure to get fiber, vitamins, nutrients and enzymes from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eating six meals a day instead of three really big ones will help with portion control and keep you from getting hungry and binging on something unhealthy in a moment of weakness. However, if frequent eating makes you hungrier, stick to the three small meals, but make sure to use proper portion sizes for all items on the plate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines promote healthy eating and avoiding oversized portions. The government site explains “the amount you eat or drink plays an important role in your energy and balance strategy. Most people eat and drink more when served larger portions.” For examples of portion sizes and possible meals and snacks, visit www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/mini_poster_English_final.pdf
Eating breakfast soon after waking will provide you with the energy and fuel for your body after being without food for seven to eight hours. WebMD notes, “If you start off your day with breakfast and then continue eating every three to four hours, you’ll provide your body and brain with a steady stream of nutrients so you don’t go overboard at mealtime.”
What exactly are some of the benefits of eating clean? Well, in addition to reducing your risk of disease or chronic health problems because whole fresh foods don’t have all the harmful ingredients processed foods have and have nutritional value, eating clean can result in:
- Increased energy
- Healthy cell function
- Regulated blood sugar
- Weight loss
- Revved-up metabolism.
Make 2015 the year you take hold of your nutrition and learn to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle as you age.