If you haven’t heard of the term before, eating clean can be a little confusing. According to the BBC, eating clean just means eating foods in their natural state and cutting back or eliminating anything that was pumped full of additives and preservatives before it got to your table.
Fair enough — our ancestors didn’t have microwavable dinners, and looking at the packaging label might make your eyes pop. Some of those ingredient lists look longer than an epic novel.
But what is “whole food?”
The Clean Dilemma: What’s Really Natural?
Unfortunately, eating clean has become confusing because no one can agree on what’s truly natural or healthy. Here are the most common arguments and misconceptions.
- You must detox: Some people who tout eating clean say you should detox first by going on water or juicefasts and do away with solid food to clear your system and give it a rest. It’s great if you’re into juicing and like drinking extra water, but in the end, your digestive system is made to digest solid food, so stopping eating altogether kind of defeats the purpose of clean eating.
- Red meat causes cancer: Paleo proponents are all for meat, even red meat, seeing it as a key ingredient in the early human diet, but raw vegans would say although it may have been something of the past, that’s where red meat should stay, especially since recent studies led WHO to list red meat as a potential carcinogen.
- Gluten be gone: Recently, there’s been a lot of doubt about whether people should eat gluten. Much of this stems from the fact that humans began to cultivate grains rather recently, so it doesn’t seem as natural as eating an apple, for example. Some people are gluten intolerant (see Celiac disease) and U.S. News & World Report says statistics show about 6 percent of the population is sensitive to gluten, so it is possible, but unlikely, that gluten could be “bad” for you.
- Move away from milk: Milk comes from cows, and it’s chock full of hormones and other things that were never meant for humans. Actually, this argument has a bit more weight — according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 90 percent of people with East Asian descent and 65 percent of the human race has some problems processing milk.
There isn’t a consensus on these issues, so for now, let your own body decide whether or not these are healthy foods for you to eat or not.
Perhaps these arguments have your head reeling, but eating clean isn’t as hard as it sounds. Actually, it’s quite simple.
1. Just Stay Away From Packaged & Processed Foods
You should know by now that frozen pizza is not going to do much for your health. Neither are crackers, cookies, chips, or most other things that come out of a box or bag. All of those foods have tons of ingredients, additives, preservatives, calories, and unhealthy fats that will make you loosen your belt a notch. If you want pizza or need to give in to your sweet tooth, no problem — just make it at home with whole ingredients.
2. If It Grows, It’s A Go
Try to choose foods that are real. Have you ever seen monosodium glutamate and red dye number 5 pop out of your garden? Of course not. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, sprouts — you can probably think of many more foods you know grow out there in the world without human influence.
3. Say “Yes” To Healthy Fats
Everyone always bashes fats, but they aren’t the enemy, nor the cause of weight gain. Quite the contrary. Harvard actually reports that a study of over 100,000 people found those who ate nuts, which are packed full of monounsaturated fats and fiber, not only had healthier hearts, but also gained less weight over time compared to people who didn’t eat nuts. Monounsaturated fats found in nuts, olive oil, and avocados help lower bad cholesterol, and are essential for bodily functions.
4. Cook For Yourself & Your Family
If you cook your own food, you’ll have more control over what you’re putting into your body. It’s also a great opportunity to make some healthier versions of the classics you crave — even raw vegans make their own pizzas, so anything is possible. Cooking will also bring you closer to your food, and make you realize you don’t need those long ingredient lists or all that added sugar to make good food.
5. Drink More Water
Don’t drink sugary drinks — drink what’s most natural, water. Needing to drink 8 glasses of water a day might be a myth, but many people really do skimp on it, so much so that they’re nearly always dehydrated. An article in the Telegraph reported that 60 percent of people in the UK drink just one glass of water a day. Although you might think caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee count, they’re actually diuretics, which means you’ll be losing most of the water you drank, leaving you even more thirsty.
Learning how to live a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be hard — living, eating, and food are all natural, so your eating habits and diet should be too. Eating clean can help you find that healthy and natural balance.
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