Emily Roberts MA, LPC
There are so many diets and fads out; it’s difficult to know what is best for you and your family, and what is more work than it’s worth. Paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, raw, the list goes on. One of the lifestyle diets we hear most is “Clean Eating”. This is a great plan for many, depending on your dietary needs and restrictions; however, let’s get clean on what it really means.
Clean Eating is not just washing your produce well and keeping a close eye on labels. Simply put, clean eating is avoiding all processed food, and relying on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, rather than prepackaged or fast food. The purpose of clean eating is to make sure you are getting your nutrients and your health from whole foods, and avoiding junk food. According to research, a clean eating lifestyle can keep you healthy, or help you regain your health if you haven’t been well. If this sounds close to impossible, to only eat clean, I hear you! However, it’s easier than you may think. One of my favorite blogs these days, The Gracious Pantry, puts it in perspective:
- Eat Lots of Plants, Fruits, and Veggies – Emphasize foods that are close to nature. If you focus on foods that are off a tree, bush, plant or vine, you’ve pretty much got it covered. Stay away from foods that are processed.
- Include Meats, Fish, and Poultry - Eat meats that are whole and straight from the butcher, not prepackaged (which are sometimes filled with nitrates and other chemicals).
- Enjoy Grains - Eat grains that are still complete and haven’t been broken down into “glue”. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat, and other whole grains (For a list of foods to stock your pantry with, check out this list.)
- Don’t Always Trust Labels – “Whole Grain” or “natural” doesn’t always mean it is. Look closely at the ingredients: white flour is not a whole grain, and “natural” spices and flavorings can encompass surprising ingredients – clarify with the company.
- The Fewer Ingredients, the Better. Try not to purchase foods that have more than 3-6 ingredients in the ingredient list, according to The Gracious Pantry. If you can’t pronounce it, and don’t recognize it, it likely shouldn’t go in your body.
Avoid anything white or “enriched”. Once again, if you are trying to eat clean, then you will want to purchase only those products that say 100% WHOLE grain/meal/flour.
Your Whole Family Can Benefit.
Processed foods are linked to lower IQs in children, research suggests. When we think of creating a lifestyle (depending on your child’s unique dietary needs), many parents are choosing to eat clean, most of the time. A family I talked to recently said they do 80:20, 80% clean, 20% real life. The book Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes with Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love (Fair Winds Press, 2012), by Michelle Dudash, R.D. can help, as well as many of the websites and blogs out there:
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