How much you eat matters, but the quality of the food you put into your body matters more – it turns good genes on and bad genes off, revs up your metabolism and ultimately creates the health you experience.
Clean eating as a movement goes beyond the current diet in-fashion from your lifestyle magazine or the nutritional plan from your qualified health professional. It is more about the quality of the food you eat rather than the type of food or quantity. The phrase “clean eating” may be relatively new but the principles are as old as mankind and can be applied to any nutritional routine.
Think about it this way – you are making a bird house to place in your garden. You either use solid wood, strong nails and quality varnish to create a bird house that will still be in use by your grand kids. Or you build one from plywood and wood glue and have it break down during the next cold front. The design is the same, the position in your garden is the same.
All that differed was the quality of the materials you used and this had a direct impact on how long and how well the bird house was able to function. You could patch up the plywood house with more plywood, a little repair here and a bigger fix there, but it will never be as long-lasting or function as optimally as the house made with quality materials.
You may already practice clean eating on occasion – have you ever tightened up your diet over a busy or important time by eliminating excess alcohol or cutting back on fast food or take-aways, in order to maximize your energy, keep your immune system strong and your brain focused on a specific task? Now imagine experiencing those benefits all the time.
Clean eating simply asks you to remove the plywood food – low quality, easy to obtain, often quick to prepare and quicker to eat, filled with fake and artificial ingredients – and replace them with healthy, unprocessed, whole food, packed with all the phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and other molecules we haven’t observed but know we need. Science has only identified fraction of the nutrients contained inside our food. Knowing this limitation, why do we continue to rely on technologists to “create” our food?
Apply these principles to your current diet or nutritional plan and see how different you will feel:
- Eliminate processed food – most foods that are contained in a box, bag, can or package are not healthy for you and contain fake ingredients to appear like the real deal but make the product last longer on the shelf. There are exceptions like a bag of frozen veggies or an ingredient that has been processed without the use of chemicals or heavy metals. For example, most whey protein in nutrition products is filled with chemicals and heavy metals left over from processing whereas an equally effective pea protein-based product does the same job but can be processed only with water.
- Choose unrefined over refined foods – the further removed a food is from it’s original form, found in nature, the more processing and interfering it has gone through and the greater the risk for toxic ingredients being added in to extend shelf life and maintain colour and flavour. For example, sugars from organic wild honey has a very different impact on your body compared to refined and processed cane sugar. Or apples grown without a pesticide or wax residue don’t last as long but are healthier for your body and tastier to your palate. IF you need to use a processed ingredient look for simple foods that use simple technologies, like water extraction or dry milling.
- Watch out for hidden ingredients – many commercial-scale food manufactures trick you into consuming unhealthy toxic ingredients by changing simply the name, e.g. cane sugar, sucrose and dehydrated cane juice – all the same thing. And some even add in ingredients, not because they contribute to the flavour or the nutrient profile of the food but because they deliberately want to keep you addicted and coming back for more, e.g. foods high in fat, salt, sugar or flavour enhancers like MSG.
- Balance your plate and your diet will balance itself – include appropriate levels of macronutrient foods, i.e. protein, carbohydrates and fats, with each meal and add in a healthy serving of micronutrient-containing foods, i.e. foods high in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes. Sometimes you can combine them, e.g. a beautiful salad is rich in both healthy carbohydrates and micronutrients. Most unhealthy meals contain too much fat and carbohydrates and not enough protein. Top up your protein intake with a shake or smoothie in the day or by including protein-rich ingredients into your meals, including lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, and hemp or pea protein products.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently – the three meal a day routine was created during the industrial revolution to force workers to fit into a more productive working day. The body does not experience hunger in such a rigid way. Either learn to identify when your body is hungry before feeding it or feed it five or six smaller meals more regularly through the day. This eliminates skipping meals and rebound overeating and keeps your blood insulin levels relatively stable.
- Get moving! – movement is a twin of nutrition. The body incorporates the nutrition in your food very differently into your body if you are engaging with a healthy level of activity compared to if you merely sit at a desk or on the couch all day. Movement gets your gut, lymphatic, detox and immune systems revved up and your blood and brain functioning optimally.