In essence, clean eating is a way of eating that emphasizes eating whole foods and more fruits and veggies than there are stars in the sky. It also aims to cleanse your body of the ugly artificial ingredients and toxins found in fast food, soda, and all the unhealthy junk that has become a staple of the modern diet.
Clean eating is not about calorie counting, it’s about eating intuitively and fueling your body with good foods in order to promote health, weight loss, and the end of illness.
Here are the main rules of clean eating:
- No processed foods. Eat whole foods, and if you absolutely must buy something from a package, they can’t have more than five ingredients, and they cannot be ingredients you don’t recognize.
- No refined sugar. No granulated sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, no sugar replacements like Stevia, which sometimes contain harmful chemicals and weird ingredients.
- Cook your own meals. If you eat out, you don’t know what’s in your food. Not to mention, it’s more cost-effective and healthier to eat at home and cook your meals from scratch! “Convenience meals” come with a high cost on your health and your wallet.
- Eat 5 or 6 small meals per day. In order to stabilize blood sugar and keep your metabolism up, eat 5 to 6 small meals per day. I like having three main meals and then two small snacks in between breakfast/lunch and lunch/dinner. More about this in the 30 Days!
- Eat WHOLE foods. Shop on the perimeter of the grocery store and center your meals around plant-based foods.
Let it be noted that there will be exceptions to these rules, but these are the basic parameters of clean eating!
Are bread and dairy “clean”?
The truth is, bread and dairy fall under the “subjective zone” of clean eating. Eating clean means doing your best to eat whole unprocessed foods and avoiding artificial ingredients, and some people consider bread and dairy products to be processed.
Since we’re getting into the nitty-gritty zone of clean eating, feel free to follow what makes sense for you.
I generally do eat bread and dairy in moderation and with specific stipulations.
Here are my specific exemptions, you’re welcome to follow them:
- Soymilk & Almond Milk = Good. Dairy Milk = Questionable. Why? Because The China Study found a correlation between dairy and cancer cell development. Plant-based is better, and I still drink soy and almond milk in moderation (i.e. just for smoothies!) because it’s not “officially” clean.
- Minimal grains, but ONLY whole wheat or raw oats. If you cut out ALL bread, then what are you going to eat? Not having sandwiches/veggie wraps/etc. means basically cutting out a huge part of the healthy diet. White flour is unhealthy, but whole grains are full of fiber to fill you up.
- No refined sugar, but honey is OK in moderation. No refined sugar means no white granulated sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, no other artificial sweeteners or sugar replacements. Honey, on the other hand, contains whole nutrients and is absorbed more slowly by the body than sugar. Honey is sweeter than sugar, which means you can use less of the product, and honey also contains antioxidants that inhibit cell damage. However, honey should still be consumed in moderation.
Eating clean is not a diet
It is a lifestyle change.
After my strict clean-eating-only thirty days, I plan on continuing to stick as close to the clean-eating mentality as I can for the rest of my life.
It takes approximately 28 days to improve willpower and ingrain healthy habits.
So what are you waiting for? Start now!