What does it mean to eat clean?
In a nutshell, clean eating is a way to rid your body of unhealthy, processed foods. That means choosing healthy, unrefined, and natural foods. Think lots of fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. My rule of thumb is to avoid the sugar, boxed snacks with a ton of ingredients, and any ingredient that I can’t pronounce.
I just finished reading Food Rules by Michael Polland. (Great little gem, by the way – I finished it on my lunch hour.) It really simplified the benefits of eating clean and my own thinking paralleled with many of his rules. (I’m sure I could teach a pretty fun class based on his rules too!) Michael’s bottom line is this: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pretty self-explanatory, but he breaks it down into 64 rules covered in three sections of the book.
The scary thing is that processed foods are EVERYWHERE and it’s really hard to escape them. They are also a lot cheaper and more abundant than whole foods, especially in the winter. I mean, I would rather spend $3 on a bag of chips than $8 on a bag of grapes. Wouldn’t you?
Believe it or not, not every product that claims to be healthy or all natural actually is found in nature. Gasp. Shocking, right? According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they have not developed a definition for use of the term “natural” or its “derivatives.” That pretty much means that companies have the right to slap that label onto processed foods as long as they don’t contain added colors, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances. Crazy right?
Did you know that there are over forty different types of sugars lurking in labels? Beet sugar, cane sugar, honey, etc. They sound innocent, but are they really? Michael said it right: “sugar is sugar.”
Case in point. The other day I found a box of all natural granola bars. The first ingredient was tapioca syrup, which is a healthier alternative to corn syrup, but is still sugar. Other ingredients included brown cane sugar, dried cane syrup, and honey. Yikes – that’s a lot of freakin’ sugar! Try giving this “healthy” snack to your kids before bed. Any takers?
Eating clean is expensive or, rather, more expensive than eating crap. But it is so much healthier and better for your body. (Would you put cheap gas into your car? I sure as hell wouldn’t!) Ultimately, the choice is yours: would you rather pay your grocer or your doctor?