You may have seen it billed as the newest food trend, but what exactly is clean eating? Is it just a fad, or a sustainable lifestyle plan? Here are the basics that any healthy eating enthusiast needs to know…
The three principles of clean eating
Clean eating is based on the idea of eating real food. This means eating:
- Minimally processed foods
- Mostly plants and plant-based foods
- Only eating animals and animal products that eat mostly plants
These form the three main principles of any clean eating diet. It involves eliminating processed foods from your diet, choosing natural and honest ingredients instead.
Clean eating is believed to help you live a longer and healthier life, giving you more energy and helping you to maintain a healthy weight. Of course, this also depends on other factors such as whether you smoke, hereditary risks and how much you exercise.
How to identify processed food
It’s a term that’s used a lot, but how easy is it to spot processed foods? Look out for foods that are mass produced but are exactly the same from batch to batch, and from country to country. A very long shelf or freezer life is usually a giveaway, as are emulsified foods and those that use specialised ingredients from specialised countries.
How to eat clean
If this kind of healthy eating sounds right for you, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Plan and prep your meals in advance – this stops you from buying processed foods for convenience when you’re hungry or short of time
- Load up on fresh produce
- Choose whole grains – such as wild rice, quinoa and oats
- Reduce your meat consumption – this can help to lower your blood pressure, keep your weight in check and reduce your risk of heart disease
- Limit sugar – or choose natural sugars instead
- Limit salt – instead, flavour your food with citrus, vinegar, herbs and spices
- Shop local – this is a big part of clean eating for many people, reducing the impact on the environment by choosing foods that are locally produced and don’t have to travel so far to reach your plate.