Clean Your Plate

Many of today’s popular diet trends promise quick fixes for all sorts of issues, with the most popular being easy weight loss. So how is clean eating any different?

For starters, it’s not a diet. Although the idea of clean eating does revolve around food, it’s a concept that encompasses various lifestyle choices. In other words, it’s about being more mindful of the food you eat, including where it came from, how it was grown and how it was prepared.

What is clean eating?

When it comes to clean eating, ingredients should be simple, high quality and as close to their natural state as possible. You should include as many unprocessed foods as possible, such as fresh produce, organic eggs, nuts and dried legumes. Minimally processed foods, such as hormone-free dairy products, unprocessed meats and unrefined grains, can also be included. To avoid harmful pesticides and other chemicals, it’s important to choose organic whenever possible.

Why clean eating is important

For many consumers, clean eating just makes sense. There’s no denying that chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity have been on the rise in developed nations. And although it isn’t always easy to pin the cause to a specific ingredient or method of processing, the list of suggested ingredients to avoid or being banned altogether seems to be growing at an alarming rate.

Many people claim that clean eating makes them feel healthier overall. Another benefit is feeling good about the foods you are serving your family, as knowing where they came from will help you make choices that are more sustainable with less impact on the environment.

Where to start

Most fad diets carry strict rules, often leading people to cheat or give up after only a short time. The difference with clean eating is you can choose to make the switch all at once or to make small adjustments at your own pace.

If you are leery about giving up some of your favorite foods or confused about how to begin, you might benefit from starting out with a few small changes.

Even just learning to read ingredient labels is a great beginning. While the ultimate goal is to avoid overly processed foods altogether, getting into the habit of checking ingredients before you buy something will train your brain to seek foods made from simple, easily identifiable ingredients. In fact, just looking up the origins of some of the unpronounceable ingredient names you will likely encounter will encourage you to continue on your path to clean eating.

Another great step for beginners is to get familiar with the produce sections of your local grocery stores. You probably already know where to find basic staples like lettuce, apples and bananas, but check out their organic options and see what other fruits and vegetables are available. This will make it easier when you are ready to take on preparing more meals from scratch at home.

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