Clean eating for beginners is a way to approach how you eat by removing unnecessary fats, sugars, and carbs, avoiding processed foods, and embracing vegetables, whole foods, unrefined grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. The more you practice, the more the craving for salts and sweets decreases and no longer satisfies. The idea is to combine a clean eating lifestyle with an active life that turns into long-term healthy habits.
Junk food refers to processed/refined foods, artificial flavors, sugars, salts, high saturated fats, and other foods that don’t provide nutrition. Clean foods fill the body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, which improve heart and brain health, assist with weight management, strengthen the immune system and increase energy levels. Clean eating guidelines include:
Preparing and Cooking Own Food
- Preparing and cooking your food is an easy way to control what goes into your body.
- You control the salt, sugar, flavors, and fats with the objective of keeping the levels as low as possible.
- Restaurant and diner food tastes great, but it is usually because salt, sugar, and butter are added to everything.
- Whole foods have not been modified, processed or refined, or saturated with preservatives, added sugars, dyes, fats/hydrogenated fats, or salt to add extra flavor or to enhance shelf life.
- They include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, unsalted nuts/seeds, whole grains, full-fat dairy products, and dried beans/legumes.
- Unrefined foods contain more nutrients and fiber, essential for healthy body function.
- Choose foods with a combination of protein, carbs, and fats.
- For example – broccoli is a carbohydrate but provides a lot of fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients, so it’s recommended when eating clean.
- Fats should come from unsaturated fats as much as possible, avoiding saturated and trans fats when possible.
- This should be practiced with every meal, whether a snack or dinner.
Limit Adding Salt, Sugar, and Fats
- Avoid unnecessary additives, like fat, salt, and sugar, when choosing foods.
- Clean eating detoxes the body, so pastries, hamburgers, fries, and fried foods begin to taste too sweet or salty because the body is no longer used to them.
- The body and tastebuds become acclimated to whole foods with no longer a need for additives.
Five to Six Small Meals
- Counting calories does not take into account the value of each calorie.
- Making mindful decisions for all foods, like lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fats, fresh fruits, and vegetables, will make the calories count.
- Eating five to six times a day in the right amounts with three small main meals and two to three healthy snacks prevents:
- Skipping meals
- Exhaustion or jitteriness from unstable blood sugar levels.
- Helps to lose weight.
- Look for labels with few ingredients.
- Avoid foods with labels that include words like modified, which indicates added processing, and words that end with the letters ose, which indicate added sugars/fructose.
- Look for labels with whole grains and whole wheat.
- High-calorie foods should have low saturated fat and sugar levels and calories that come from fiber and lean proteins.
- Sodium levels should be as low as possible; the body only needs 250 mg daily.
Drink Plenty of Water
- Water needs to be consumed throughout the day, every day.
- Water will maintain body hydration and function and prevent hunger.
- Sodas and other unhealthy drinks contain high fructose corn syrup and/or other refined sugars providing no health benefits.
- Fruit juices contain more nutrients than soda but can be high in calories and sugar. Read the labels.
To start, take small steps so the body can gradually transition into healthy habits that will last long-term. This is a new lifestyle, not a trending fad. Individuals are recommended to ease into it, and then it will begin to feel normal. Injury Medical Chiropractic Clinic has a Functional Medicine team, including a certified nutritionist, to help individuals develop a nutrition plan specific to their needs.
Ambwani, Suman et al. “”It’s Healthy Because It’s Natural.” Perceptions of “Clean” Eating among U.S. Adolescents and Emerging Adults.” Nutrients vol. 12,6 1708. 7 Jun. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12061708
Allen, Michelle, et al. “The Dirt on Clean Eating: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Dietary Intake, Restrained Eating, and Opinions about Clean Eating among Women.” Nutrients vol. 10,9 1266. 8 Sep. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10091266
Ghaderi, Ata. “A European perspective on “clean eating”: Commentary on Negowetti et al. (2021).” The International journal of eating disorders vol. 55,1 (2022): 49-51. doi:10.1002/eat.23615
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