Clean Eating: Is It Worth All The Hype?
A new way of eating has rolled into town. Many news stations, health magazines, and food bloggers are pushing the “Clean Eating” diet. But is it worth all the hype? Before we can answer that question, we have to find out what “clean eating” really means.
What is Clean Eating?
To put it simply, “clean eating” means eating unprocessed, natural food. Now, you might be saying, “Well, I do that already! I stay away from chips, cheesy puffs, sodas – stuff like that!” While that is a great step in the right direction, man-made chemicals might be lurking in so-called “natural” foods. Granola bars, usually the first thing people grab for a healthy snack, are actually loaded with corn syrup and artificial flavorings. Yogurt, usually a healthy breakfast option, is now packed with excessive amounts of refined sugar and artificial colors to give it that fruity, delectable appearance. In addition, unless you are buying organic, most yogurts come from cows that have been enhanced by growth hormones. Yummy! And lastly, today’s common all-natural sugar replacement is honey. Unfortunately, honey isn’t all that “natural” these days. The typical bottle of honey has undergone multiple levels of processing which filters out the natural pollen. This means that, technically, processed honey isn’t honey at all! If you want to find truly natural honey, buy it raw from your local food market or beekeeper.
So, with all this new information coming to the surface, “eating clean” seems more like a challenge nowadays. We can’t take the label’s word for it anymore. We must do our research if we are to eat clean. Now some might be asking, “Is clean eating really worth it?”
Why Should We Eat Clean?
When you eat food, your body filters out the things it doesn’t need and uses the nutrients it does need. The problem is, the unnecessary junk has to go somewhere. Usually it ends up on your hips, thighs, tummy, etc. Some are immune to its fat-producing effects. But, it still takes a toll on the health by building up plaque in the arteries and slowly poisoning your internal organs. And most likely, if you’re eating food with processed ingredients or added chemicals, you’re missing out on valuable nutrients. Alarmingly, more than 75% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D - a vitamin that affects bone strength and calcium absorption (http://www.livestrong.com/article/487412-malnutrition-in-america/). In addition, more than one-third (34.9%) of adults in America are obese (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html). Being obese greatly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and having a stroke or heart attack. The reasons why we need to start eating clean are obvious: our lives depend on it.
How Do We Start Eating Clean?
It might seem like a daunting task when you’re first starting out, but just remember that knowledge is your best weapon in fighting against obesity and malnutrition. Know what you are eating. Read the labels and nutrition facts. Do your research in the library or online. Saturate yourself with information so that you can become your own nutrition expert. This way, when you walk into the grocery store, you’ll know what to look for.
Focus on eating lean proteins, good fats like omega-3 and omega-6, fresh vegetables and fruits, and nutritious carbohydrates and fiber found in whole grains. Do this six times a day in smaller portions, and you’ll be less likely to feel hungry. Don’t forgot to drink plenty of water and exercise daily!
Resources for Research
There are many great resources to help you along your way. Here are a few to get you started:
23 Ways to Eat Clean – Prevention Magazine
Meal Plans - Clean Eating Magazine
10 Clean Eating Recipes – Cooking Light Magazine