The term “clean eating” has become very popular in the health community, but the term that should mean eating whole foods is now associated with food shaming.
To keep things simple, focus less on using trending terms and more on making small changes like eating minimally processed foods.
Doing so does not have to include emptying your kitchen cabinets and starting from scratch but rather adding more fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-dense foods to your plate
What is clean eating?
Clean eating does not have anything to do with food being clean or dirty.
It simply involves choosing minimally processed, real foods that provide maximal nutritional benefits.
The idea is to consume foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
Additionally, eating foods that are grown more environmentally conscious is a part of the concept of clean eating.
However, when making decisions about food, nutrition, and health, try focusing primarily on what’s practical and doable for you.
Also, it may be easier to start by doing one small thing at a time, which can be less overwhelming.
Here are 11 tips to try when choosing to eat more healthfully.
Eat more vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are undeniably rich in nutrients.
They’re loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that help fight inflammation and protect your cells from damage
In fact, many large observational studies link high fruit and vegetable intake to a reduced risk of illnesses like cancer and heart disease
Fresh vegetables and fruits are ideal for clean eating, as most can be consumed raw immediately after picking and washing.
Choosing organic produce can help you reduce pesticide exposure, potentially boosting your health. Regardless, eating more fruits and vegetables, whether it be organic or conventional, is beneficial for your health when compared to eating them in limited quantities.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
- Make your salads as colorful as possible, including at least three different vegetables in addition to greens.
- Add fruits such as apples, strawberries, watermelon, grapes, or tangerines to your salad.
- Top your oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt with berries, bananas, or plums.
- Wash and chop veggies, toss them with olive oil and herbs, and place them in a container in your refrigerator for easy access.
- Add spinach, kale, collards, or squash to your soups and stews.
- Choose frozen or canned versions when cooking as they can be more affordable and make meal prep easier.
Limit processed foods
Ultra-processed foods have been linked to an increased risk of heart issues, so try to limit their consumption. These foods can contain added sugar, artificial colors, stabilizers, or preservatives. Examples include salty snacks like chips, packaged cookies, and fast food, which may have undergone chemical and physical processes
Most processed items have lost some of their fiber and nutrients but gained added sugars, sodium, and other ingredients meant to preserve them and make them taste more appealing
When reading labels, look for items with the least amount of added ingredients — especially ones that you don’t recognize. That includes items tagged “natural,” because even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that the term should mean nothing artificial or synthetic has been included or added to a food that wouldn’t normally be expected, that doesn’t include food production methods such as the use of pesticides.