There is no dictionary term for clean eating, it really is more about adapting your diet and lifestyle choices to include more whole foods that are natural and nourishing and less of the processed junk.
Clean food is as close to its natural form as possible. It should never have an ingredient list with things no one can pronounce. For many people clean food means organic and if your budget permits invest in organic meat, dairy and eggs.
Clean eating to me means enjoying the foods I currently do, along with eating out and the occasional takeaway but having the main focus of my diet centred around eating natural, plant based, as organic as possible and as unprocessed as I can get away with. I genuinely prefer a diet based around veggies and fruits, which makes clean eating so much easier, my skin looks great for it and my energy levels are through the roof. But it wasn’t always the case, when I first left home I chose convenience over what was best for me, but as I’ve grown up and seen the benefits of a clean diet I’ve been drawn more and more towards that lifestyle.
It makes sense now more than ever to be aware of what clean eating is and to learn about the benefits of putting the correct food into our bodies.
Tips to incorporate Clean Eating into your diet:
Eat five to six times a day – Try to include lean protein, a complex carbohydrate and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating smaller meals throughout the day reduces the chance of binging on sugar laden foods at the last minute.
- Get label savvy – Clean foods contain only a handful of ingredients. Food products with a shelf life of a few months or over a year will no doubt be jam packed with chemicals to give it that long shelf life, our bodies aren’t designed to consume these toxins and more often than not they end up as that little spare tyre around our waists.
Try to drink at least 2 liters of water a day – Herbal and green teas can be included in this intake. If you can try to start the day off with warm water and fresh lemon to wake up your digestive system and flush out unwanted toxins.
- Choose organic as much as possible – Organic foods can be slightly more expensive than the average, but it really is worth investing in organic meat, dairy and eggs. All the supermarkets in Ireland have a good (and growing) range of organic produce, its becoming more easily assessable to everyone.
Tips on what to buy:
- Meat (Lamb, Beef, Pork, Venison, Duck, Turkey, Chicken) When it comes to buying meat or poultry the best options to look out for are ‘Grass Fed’ ‘Free Range’ or ‘Organic’. The next best thing is to opt for ‘Lean’ or ‘Fat Trimmed’ cuts of meat.
- Eggs and Dairy (Milk, Cream, Butter, Cheese, Yogurt) Again with eggs always look for ‘Free Range’ or ‘Organic’. Grass Fed or Organic livestock would have had a better quality diet and more relaxed lifestyle, because of this their meat/eggs will contain higher levels of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 Fats. They are also much less likely to have been treated with antibiotics. With Dairy always go for Organic if possible as these products are much less likely to have come from an animal source that has been produced with hormones or antibiotics.
- Fruit and Vegetables When it comes to fruit and vegetables organic is always best as crops these days are heavily sprayed with pesticides. If you cannot opt for organic fruit and vegetables be sure to thoroughly wash before use. A good tip is to fill a sink with fresh water and a few capfuls of apple cider vinegar (Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar is my favourite) and leave your fruits and vegetables in the water for 10-15 minutes before rinsing and drying. Farmers markets are in abundance all over the country providing us with locally grown, fresh and great tasting produce, it makes perfect sense to buy locally as the produce would be farm fresh and wouldn’t have travelled far to get to you. Many of the imported fruits in supermarkets are transported across continents before they reach your plate.
- Fish When it comes to fish try go for wild or sustainably caught rather than farmed. Wild or sustainably caught fish will have a higher fat composition and therefore more healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. I feel that we’re lucky in Ireland with the quality of fresh produce our farmers markets stock and if you’re lucky enough to live near the coast and the docksides try buy direct from the source. Special mention should be given to The Good Fish Company in Cork www.goodfish.ie and The Market at Beshoffs in Howth, County Dublin www.beshoffs.ie, both are well worth a visit! When buying frozen shellfish like prawns try buy them in their shells as the de-shelled prawns would have been preserved in a salt glaze.
- Cooking fats and oils for dressings Animal fats are perfect for cooking with because they are rich in saturates, which remain stable at high temperatures, the best being butter, ghee, duck or goose fat. If you’re vegetarian choose coconut, sesame or rapeseed oils for cooking with. Try using plant oils like flax, avocado, pumpkin, walnut or olive oil for dressings. These oils are more delicate and more easily damaged at higher temperatures, which ruins the flavour and any nutritional benefits. Again with any of the fats and oils mentioned above organic is best if you can afford it.