Fall is in full swing and people everywhere are talking about the latest buzz phrase amongst health-conscious consumers: “clean eating”. Although no clinical definition exists, at its simplest, clean eating is about eating foods which are un- or minimally processed and refined making them as close to their natural form as possible. In other words, it’s what I have been encouraging people to do for years: eat whole foods like vegetables; fruits; whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley and old fashioned oatmeal; lean proteins like beans, fish and chicken and healthy fats such as avocado, unsalted nuts and seeds.
Eating clean is a good way to refresh your eating habits. This approach to eating maximizes your energy and optimizes your health, making it more than just a diet.
7 Foolproof Ways to Clean Eating
Eat Seasonally. One of the best ways to fall into clean eating is to focus on foods that are in season. A few of my favorite fall foods include:
- Greens – kale, turnips, Swiss chard and mustard greens.
- Fruits – apples (some orchards are ‘you pick’ which makes for a great family outing and opportunity to teach your kids where food comes from), citrus fruits, pears, pomegranates, cranberries and grapes.
- Vegetables – sweet potatoes, winter squashes like butternut and acorn, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, rutabaga, cauliflower, turnips, onions, garlic, beets and carrots. I love oven roasting or grilling mine for an extra boost in flavor.
Adopt Meatless Mondays. Enjoy a vegetarian meal once a week. Include a combination of beans, whole grains such as quinoa, seasonal vegetables, and fresh herbs. Be sure to check out my blog for vegetarian recipes like my Quick and Easy Tempeh Stir Fry and Quinoa Black Bean and Strawberry Salad.
Ditch the Dressing. Toss out store bought salad dressing and opt for simple homemade olive oil and lemon juice toppings. Not only is this a way to reduce overall calories, fat and added sugar, it reduces sodium, additives and preservatives. We often use traditional dressing out of habit rather than loving the taste. Experiment and enjoy new ways to dress your salad.
Go Nuts! Increase your intake of healthy fats by adding more nuts and seeds to your menu. They make great snacks or toppings on salads. Nuts are an excellent source of essential fatty acids that help the bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Limit highly processed foods. An easy way to clean up your diet is to read the ingredient list on packaged foods. Stay away from products with long lists or lists which include words you can’t pronounce. Cutting back on processed foods will help you reduce your salt, fat and sugar intake. That said, not everything that comes in a box, bag or can is bad for you. While prewashed salad greens, natural almond butter and canned chickpeas are not in their natural state, they are minimally processed and provide good-for-you nutrients like fiber and vitamins.
Cut down on added sugars. The recommendation is no more than 6 teaspoons a day if you are woman and no more than 9 teaspoons a day if you are a man. So, limit obvious sweets like soda, fruit juices, candy and baked goods and keep an eye out for sugars added to healthier foods like yogurt (choose plain varieties with no added sugar and use fruit to add natural sweetness), tomato sauce and cereals.
Choose whole grains. Look for the word “whole.” For example, when buying bread and pasta make sure it says “whole wheat,” not just “wheat.” Outside of whole wheat, choose whole grains like quinoa, old fashioned oats and brown rice.
Here’s to your health,