Many of us say every New Year that we’re going to cut out the bad foods and go on a diet and in more recent years there’s been a rise in the concept of clean eating … but what is it and what’s it like to make the change? TB’s new writer Toni Day gives us the low-down.
Eating clean. What exactly does that mean?
Well to put it very simply it means eating foods that have a natural origin, that are not tampered with and have little to no “added ingredients”. It’s about being mindful of where your food came from and how it got to your plate. What it’s not about is starving yourself to get back into the jeans you’re now bursting out of after Christmas. It’s about changing your lifestyle and eating real, good food.
Many of you will have thought about this at Christmas time after indulging in lots of Christmas dinner and all those yummy puddings you just had to try, as well as the alcohol that everybody else was drinking so you had to join in (right?)….and lets not forget the chocolates and nuts that everybody buys and that just sit around calling out to you!
So you get Christmas out of the way and decide new year, new you! (Yep, we’ve all heard that before!) But then you realise you still have that big tub of chocolates and all those biscuits and bottles of wine you got as presents that you just have to finish. Before you know it we’re at the end of January and you’ve still done nothing about it. So new year, new you in February?! Lets do it!
The best place to start is to empty your cupboards of everything that has a list of ingredients you cant read. You will be amazed when you do this at just how many of those convenient little pots are full of nasties that really do not need to be there. Obviously this will included ALL biscuits, cakes and chocolate (unless its over 85% as this usually has very little tampering), but you should also look at ready made soups, bread, cooking sauces, even down to the little things like stock cubes….once you start reading the ingredients you will realise that most of these things contain wheat, sugars, salts, emulsifiers, preservatives etc that are far from clean.
Getting rid of the nasties
So you’ve gone through the cupboards and have a giant bin bag full of things you never thought you could live without. The best thing to do now is give all of it to a food bank or even just throw it away if u really dont have the time, but do not keep it around as you will be tempted to go back to it.
Onwards and upwards
Now, the next stage is to go shopping and restock your fridge/cupboards. Whether you are a busy worker travelling to the City, or a just as busy mum at home with the children, we can ALL find time to cook good meals from real ingredients. Some people may find it easiest to make a meal plan and spend half a day prepping several meals then freezing them for convenience. Others will find it just as easy to decide what they fancy when walking around the store and throw things together as, and when they have the time. The problem with the second option for many people is that on those odd days when you get home too late or you’ve had a hard day and just cant be bothered to cook its far too tempting to go back to old habits. So the best option is to plan as much in advance as you can, even just making extras with dinner so you have something to take to work in the morning or making lunch for the next day whilst cooking dinner can help massively!
Anyway, back to the shopping. First of all DO NOT go shopping when you’re hungry and just starting out with clean eating, believe me, it is far too tempting to just grab whatever you fancy at the time and this usually wont be anywhere near as healthy as what you want to be eating.
Secondly you are looking for good clean ingredients to cook with. A good rule to follow is if it had a face or it grew in the ground/on a tree etc then you can pretty safely say its OK.
Choosing the right route for you
Depending on which lifestyle you are looking to follow this will definitely include meat and veg, some will include grains, dairy, nuts, eggs and fruit. However there are some diets that cut out these food groups too as they believe them to be damaging.
For example; vegans will not include meat, eggs or dairy, vegetarians will cut out meat also but most will still have eggs and dairy products. People following what is known as a paleo lifestyle will cut out all grains, including corn, and all dairy products. Then there are those who class themselves as primal which is essentially paleo but including raw dairy products. (for more information on paleo/primal eating please see my next blog entry)
The main thing to keep in mind with clean eating whichever path you choose is that it is about eating real good food that doesn’t need a long list of ingredients that nobody understands. The foods you buy are your ingredients.
There are so many benefits of clean eating but most importantly you will feel amazing in yourself and you will have more energy (you may experience a week of not feeling so great as all the nasties in your system work they’re way out but push through and you will start seeing benefits very soon!) Some people will lose weight, and others will change shape.
So what are you waiting for…..? Get in that kitchen, clear it all out and buy yourself some real ingredients!
I’ll even include some meal ideas for you….Just so there are no excuses (these are not for vegans)
- Bacon, mushroom and spinach omelette
- Leftovers from dinner!
- Porridge (for those who arent cutting out grains)
- Salad with chicken/prawns/boiled eggs/cheese (if not cutting out dairy)
- Omelette (if u didn’t have one for breakfast)
- Stir fry
- Steak with sweet or white potato wedges, brocolli and asparagus
- Pork Loin steaks with roasted vegetables (e.g. Peppers, onions or leeks, cherry tomatoes, courgette, mushrooms, garlic, herbs)
- Jacket potato with cheese/beans/coleslaw/tuna mayo etc