Clean eating is the practice of cleaning up your diet by limiting or avoiding additives, added sugars, hormones, and unnatural or unnecessary ingredients. Eating clean can help you manage your weight, reduce symptoms from chronic ailments, have more energy and simply feel better.
Instead of following a specific diet, such as a vegetarian diet, vegan diet, the Atkins diet or a strictly organic diet, people who practice clean eating focus on improving their health and energy level through increasing their intake of whole foods and avoiding the junk foods that are all too common in Western diets.
You do not have to eat clean at every meal or completely avoid your favorite snack foods, but if you work towards cleaner eating overall, you can improve your health by providing your body with the nutrients it needs for optimal performance while avoiding unnecessary ingredients that can cause inflammation, aggravate chronic ailments and cause weight gain.
Here are eight easy tips for cleaner eating at home and on the road:
1. Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Processed foods are convenient and can be quite tasty, but they are usually loaded with unhealthy chemicals and unnecessary sugar, fat and salt.
2. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The good stuff is usually found in the outer aisles where they keep the produce, freshly baked breads, meats and dairy products. Avoid the center aisles where they keep the boxed, canned and bagged convenience foods.
3. Buy organic whenever possible. When organic foods are available and in your budget, you can avoid additives by choosing these healthier options.
4. Buy lean, hormone-free, grass-fed meats. If you choose to include meat in your diet, read labels to make the healthiest choices possible.
5. Avoid white foods, including rice, flour, sugar and potatoes. Brown rice, whole grain breads, unbleached sugar and sweet potatoes have more nutrients and are less processed options.
6. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The more you get your calories from fruits and vegetables, the more nutrients you provide your body and the better you will feel.
7. Keep healthy snacks on hand. If you have raw almonds, carrot sticks or low-fat yogurt close at hand, you will be less likely to be tempted by unhealthy junk foods.
8. Read labels. Always read the label when you purchase packaged foods. Foods with fewer ingredients are the best choices, and you should be able to recognize each ingredient as an actual food product.