Eating clean is a catchphrase that frequently pops up whenever diet and fitness topics are being discussed. It refers to a general approach to healthful eating in which natural foods are consistently chosen over manufactured or processed options. Although specific meal plans are left up to each individual, there are some basic rules to clean eating that should be followed.
Eat whole foods in their natural state
Clean eating essentially comes down to eating whole foods in as near‒natural a state as possible. In other words, the fewer steps it takes for a tomato to go from the vine to your kitchen the better. The same holds true for other fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, and whole grains, all of which should combine to form the bulk of your diet. Meat products should be of the grass‒fed and free‒range variety and, when possible, purchased from a butcher rather than a supermarket. Milk, eggs, butter, cream, and other dairy items should come straight from the farm.
Avoid overly processed products
Strictly speaking, anyone abiding by a true clean eating plan is already avoiding overly processed products because, as explained above, they consume only whole foods. However, many folks find it impossible or impractical to adhere to that rule 100% of the time and therefore follow a modified plan that allows some leeway for prepackaged goods.
If you fall into the latter category, get into the habit of reading labels before making any food purchases. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any product made of more than 8 to 10 ingredients or any product that contains unpronounceable chemicals, flavorings, and additives.
Learn how to make it yourself
For clean eating to be sustainable, you have to be able to enjoy your food and not feel overly restricted. Thus, instead of completely eliminating favorites like ice cream or granola bars, learn to make your own from wholesome, unprocessed ingredients. The Internet is full of "clean" recipes for everything from cookies to pizza to salad dressing, so you should never feel deprived.
Clean eating is not a temporary diet that you follow only until you reach your goal weight. It is meant to be a long‒term lifestyle change that demonstrates your commitment to health and well‒being. Use the above rules as a starting point and join the clean eating movement today!