Clean Eating 101

Clean eating is a diet plan that simply asks you to eat whole, natural foods. The core of this plan is avoiding processed and refined foods and artificial ingredients as well as alcohol, soda, and fruit juice. All of the foods should be real and natural without all of the synthetic ingredients found in many pre-packaged snacks and dinners.

Restrictions are strict on food quality but less so on food quantity. Any processed foods are removed, including, but not limited to, bread, pasta, chips, cereals, and frozen foods. Whole foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meat, which have also been shown to help improve overall health.

Palatability & Overeating

Palatability is easily defined as how pleasant a food is to eat. When foods are higher in palatability, you’re more likely to keep eating them even after you’re full. Foods that are highly palatable are often sweet, salty, fatty, calorie dense, or heavy in umami flavor, which means that processed foods are often more palatable than whole foods. Because of this, clean eating can help reduce overeating by reducing palatability of the clean foods.

Satiability & Clean Foods

Certain foods are more likely to be satiating, where they leave us feeling fuller for longer periods of time. High on the list for satiability? Clean, whole foods like fish, steak, apples, and oranges. On the opposite end of the spectrum, candy, cake, and potato chips are some of the least satiating foods. Therefore, eating clean foods that are highly satiating can help keep you fuller for longer.

Clean Carb Options

Sweet potatoes and yams are rich in vitamins and micronutrients that can support your immune system, as well as your bone, eye, and heart health. They contain a healthy amount of fiber and antioxidants to keep your system working smoothly.

Oats contain a high amount of soluble fiber that aids in digestive health. They are highly satiating and help to prevent heart disease. Rolled, steel cut, or whole oats are less processed than instant oats and therefore more satiating.

Quinoa is a wonderful clean, plant-based carbohydrate source. Full of omega-3 fatty acids and leucine amino acids. Therefore, quinoa contains both clean carbs and protein.

You can certainly eat other whole grains as well. Whole grain breads and pastas should be eaten in moderation. Make sure to check the ingredients to check that whole grains are the first ingredients and that there are minimal added sugars.

Reading the Labels

If you are going to include pre-packaged or semi-processed foods in your clean eating diet, become an expert in reading food nutrition labels. Minimize the amount of sodium (2,300mg) and added sugars (6-9tsp) to meet the daily recommended maximum values. Watch out for other names for sugar like dextrose, sucralose, and glucose. Pay attention to processing and preserving ingredients as well, such as nitrites, sulfites, and butylated hydroxytoluene.

Drink More Water

Yes, it’s time to repeat the age-old mantra: water is packed with healthy benefits. Staying hydrated keeps your muscles healthy and your body’s systems moving properly. If you’re having a hard time sipping enough, try adding sugar free flavors like lemon or cucumber. Other unsweetened beverages, like green tea and black coffee, can also be beneficial in moderation.

Time Out

Eating becomes more than just a necessary piece of life when you take time to plan and sit down for meals. Eating a quick meal on the couch or on the go is just not the same as taking a time out to sit down at the table – especially if you invite friends or family over. Plan out your meals and get excited about what you’re eating – you’ll be more likely to eat clean and prep well.

Clean eating is a lifestyle choice, not a diet. It offers a way of eating with minimal quantity restrictions where you eat whole foods that keep you full. It helps to support energy and stable blood sugar levels. Clean eating gives you a variety of foods from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats.

Kelsey Xander
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