Clean eating is a very simple concept it is eating whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible, minimizing processing. So eating fruits and vegetables in their whole state is the best example.
I thought of this example to illustrate levels of processing.
Whole Food: Apple with the skin
Minimal Processing: Apple with skin removed
More Processing: Apple mashed
More Processing: Apple mashed and cooked into sauce
More Processing: Add sugar, spices, preservatives to apple sauce
Of course, not all processing is bad. It can improve the taste and texture of food, like blending up a banana, kale, strawberry smoothie. Cooking is a process and it helps make eating things like chicken safe.
Think of ready to heat meals as being highly processed. These meals seem to help make our busy lives more livable, but it may come at the cost of health.
Clean eating suggests staying away from refined sugar, heavily processed food or artificial ingredients. And it recommends using whole grains and complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, steel cut oats, quinoa.
When choosing meats clean eating prefers wild over pasture and pasture over grain-fed. Organic foods without pesticides and hormones are suggested.
With all of this said, I like to call the way that I usually eat, Cleaner Eating. There are some things that I choose that don’t match up with clean eating guidelines. Avoiding processing is an important aspect of what I call Cleaner Eating, but our busy lives are accounted for as well, in a fine balance of ideal and real life.
From personal experience and working with clients and people in general, many are not comfortable with or do not want such strict guidelines, because if they go outside of them, they feel like they have failed, or maybe there are some things that people just don’t want to give up.
Eating cleaner works well here as a compromise for me. It is also better for the environment. It is similar to eating meatless one or two days a week to help the planet, but not going full vegetarian.
What feels right to you?
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I was a school teacher for 20 years and am a lifetime soul learner. I am still a teacher, just a different curriculum.