In my opinion, Clean Eating can simply be characterized by two things:
- eat Real Food
- how you prepare your food
What does that mean:
My basic theory on nutrition comes down to this: think about what our bodies have evolved to learn how to process over the millions – or perhaps to make it more cohesive: the last few thousands – of years: fat, sugar from fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates from grains. However, chemicals and preservatives have only been introduced into our diets in about the last 50 years; our bodies haven’t evolved to learn to process those.
You’re better off grabbing that full fat yogurt off the shelf at the grocery store than the fat-free version, because your body knows how to break down fat, but doesn’t know how to break down the preservatives used to alter the seemingly healthier version. Read your ingredient labels. Not just the nutrient labels.
- REAL FOOD: these are “old foods” foods (that have been around long time and we’ve been eating a long time) and “traditional foods” (traditionally raised and processed foods). Choose unprocessed foods, without preservatives/chemicals. Foods with the fewest ingredients.
- “Old Food“:
- meat, fish, eggs, we’ve been eating for millions of years
- diary is more recent (thousands of years) – but margarine – a hydrogenated vegetable oil made solid and dyed yellow – has only been introduced within the last century
- “Traditional Food“: (meaning can vary slightly by ingredient)
- Fruits and Vegetables best when local & in season
- Grains should be whole
- Fats and oils should be unrefined
Consider these examples of Real Food (directly from Nina Planck, love her!), I couldn’t have said it better myself: “the traditional method of farming, processing, preparing, and cooking enhances nutrition and flavor, while the industrial method diminishes both.”
- Real beef is raised on grass (not soybeans) and aged properly
- Real milk is grass-fed, raw, and unhomongenized, with the cream on top
- Real eggs come from hens that eat grass, grubs, and bugs – not “vegetarian” hens
- Real lard is never hydrogenated, as industrial lard is
- Real olive oil is cold-pressed, leaving vitamin E and antioxidants intact
- Real tofu is made from fermented soybeans, which are more digestible
- Real bread is made with yeast and allowed to rise, a form of fermentation
- Real grits are stone ground from whole corn and soaked with soda before cooking
- HOW TO PREPARE YOUR FOOD:
- cook foods with healthy fats (olive oil, grapeseed oil, ghee, coconut oil) – choose fats that have burning temperatures when applying heat to them, and remember that a little goes a long way
- herbs and spices! Remember those? They add flavor. And in most cases health benefits without any downsides. So add lots, and play with combinations.
- season with vinegar: balsamic, rice, apple cider. More health benefits.
- Real Food by Nina Plank
- Real Food on a Budget: 7 Tips for Eating Well in a Recession (eatdrinkbetter.com)