By Denise DePaolo
It’s about cutting out processed foods, and instead, eating whole foods.
Clean eating forces us to pay attention to what we’re shoving into our food hole, and as a result, many people report a myriad of positive results.
Like in the Paleo Diet, we’re encouraged to eat fruits, vegetables, lean grass-fed meats, poultry and eggs.
However, clean eating allows the inclusion of limited low-fat dairy, beans and legumes.
“We live in toxic world,” said Dr. Christine Duncan of Lanpher Chiropractic. “I think it’s a good idea for everybody to just think a little greener, eat less preservatives.”
“You’re cutting out processed food, so you’re cutting back on salt and sugar. You’re cutting out a lot of preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and food additives,” said Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Annie Ailts. “It’s just all around a healthy diet. It’s good for your body and also good for the environment.”
And unlike many diets, Ailts says it can actually save us money, “because you pay for convenience. Things that are boxed up, you’re going to pay more for. You’re going to pay more for eating out.”
The idea of cutting back on salt and sugar can be a little scary for some, who worry about the flavor of their food. Ailts says with time, your tastes change.
“We crave what we eat,” she said. “So once you get away from eating salt and sugar, you don’t crave those as much. By eating ‘clean,’ you’re not going to be tempted as much by the convenience foods and processed foods. You can train your taste buds to crave the fruits and vegetables and more of the whole foods.”
Ailts adds that clean eating can also encourage family time, “Another nice thing is you’re forced to cook more. I just think that’s a good thing, because when you cook, you appreciate food more. It brings the family together. You’re maybe sitting down to enjoy a meal that you made or your kids helped make.”
Clean eating can be difficult for those who grew up eating prepackaged foods, and sometimes cravings can trump what we know is right for our bodies. Duncan says a focus of her practice is helping people improve their overall health through preventative treatments and natural remedies.
“We have supplementation that will curb cravings for carbohydrates, which is really helpful,” said Duncan. “If they’re used to eating a lot of carbs like pasta and bread, crackers and dairy, it can be kind of a shock to your system. They’ll be thinking about it all the time and it’s really hard to stick with the plan. But we have a couple of herbal supplements. There’s a mineral and an herb, actually. We can see which one works best for the person to keep their blood sugar neutral throughout the day, so they’re not having those spikes and intense cravings for candy or pop.”
Clean eaters often report increased mental clarity and improved complexions. Those who have committed to a clean eating diet also tend to have higher energy levels, which drop noticeably if they backslide.
“You’re going to be using fat stores as your energy throughout the day. Your fat cells are better for you to burn up than a pop. You’re going to feel better, you’re going to have a more sustained energy flow throughout the day. You’re not going to feel sluggish or fatigued,” said Duncan.
She adds that clean eating isn’t just about increased energy. It can improve overall well-being, “Digestion is going to be much improved. If people are suffering with chronic diarrhea or constipation, acid reflux – things like that – it’s going to really calm down. You’re going to sleep better. Allergies and colds are probably going to decrease. Chemically, it can make a person happier, too. The less sugar you have, the more B vitamins you have in your body. Sugar and medications deplete B vitamins and that’s how we keep happy and energetic.”
More resources on clean eating from around the web: