When we think about cleansing we think about taking a bath- with water and soap. But we also need to cleanse our bodies internally. And how can we do that? Have you ever thought about it?
Well, the answer to this is- clean eating!
And that is the topic of this article.
“But my food is always clean!” you’d say.
Well, “clean” eating includes not only “hygienic” eating, but it also involves the consumption of whole foods which are either unprocessed or processed negligibly and are said to be quite close to their original, natural form.
Embracing a clean eating lifestyle can be an easy, yet effective method to lose weight, improve your health and well-being, build better immunity, etc.
In addition to this, eating clean also implies depending lesser on highly processed/synthetic, readymade items that are full of harmful preservatives and other chemicals and making your own food (which also saves a lot of your money by the way!)
Many of us must have made a new year resolution about eating clean. We must have, at least once, said something like “I will not eat junk food this year” or “I will try to follow a diet plan this year” and we must have failed terribly at it… But that’s okay! Trying is what matters the most. Clean eating is, in fact, all about TRYING to eat clean as much as possible.
It is practically impossible to eat clean 100% of the time, but our goal should be to make it at least 90% of the time.
The ancient scriptures have various mentions about how food should be prepared and how it should be eaten but with changing times, peoples habits have also changed drastically. Somethings, however, are inevitable. Keeping that in mind, here we have a list of ten helpful tips on clean eating for you. Try implementing as many of these as possible and you will see the difference.
1) Cross out white/refined sugar from your shopping list
Consuming a lot of refined sugar has been linked to an array of health problems right from obesity to cardiovascular diseases (information sourced from NCBI). When transitioning over to a better, cleaner technique of eating, food items and drinks with a lot of refined/added sugar have to automatically be phased out.
When you try to change your diet and switch to clean eating, going for healthier alternatives instead of your usual sugary treats can satisfy your sweet tooth and keep your health in check. For instance, you can switch your daily or weekly tub of ice cream or slice of cake for something “clean” like Greek yogurt topped with berries, oats with cocoa powder, coconut balls, etc.
2) Channel your inner Sanjeev Kapoor (or whichever chef inspires you)
So many individuals rely on fast-food and other such “quick-service” and unhealthy meals to get them through their tight schedules.
But, creating a habit of buying food and beverages on the go can cause problems in the long term.
We understand that it may not be practical for all people to make all the meals at home on their own, but whenever you get time, making your own fresh and healthy food yourself must be a priority.
While eating clean, understanding what goes into the making of your food is crucial and making it for yourself is the simplest way to have an idea of what goes in it and what you need to keep out of your body.
3) Shop from the corners of the departmental stores or malls
Picking items from the perimeter of the stores is one of the easiest ways to make the best of your shopping trip to reach your clean eating goals.
This is since in these areas of the shops you will usually find the fresh produce and things like eggs, yogurt, etc which are great sources of protein.
Although the inner aisles of the shops may have some healthy things like nuts, these also tend to be the sections where most of the junk things like wafers, biscuits, soda, etc are stocked.
You must make it a priority to load your trolley with nutritious items from the corner sections, including but not limited to veggies, fruit, etc before proceeding to the junk food maze.
Remember- the shops are designed in such a way that you’ll forget what you were looking for and end up buying something unhealthy which they heavily market.
4) Be vocal for local
Clean eating is all about knowing what your food is and how it is obtained.
There can’t be any better method to honour the farmers than to create a connection with them by eating what is grown in your homeland.
Buying food directly from their farm means you can be aware about the techniques used to grow the crops.
Helping the local farmers means being connected with your food while also helping your local economy sustain itself.
Plus, buying food directly from local farms means that you are guaranteed to enjoy the freshest in-season food available.
5) DON’T eat “diet” foods
This may come off as quite surprising or shocking to you, but that is the truth!
If you want to eat clean, the first thought that would come to your mind would be to switch to the “diet” versions of your favourite food items. Diet soda, diet chips, diet cookies, diet ketchup, diet mayo, diet chivda, diet chakli and what not!
But these things are often full of not only artificial sweeteners, but also preservatives and other harmful ingredients.
Even the famous dietitian Rujuta Diwekar has mentioned about such items being nothing but a hoax.
It is better to eat the natural version of a particular food instead of its “diet version” because the diet version will only give you calories, it won’t provide any nutrition.
6) Go Green
Remember how Popeye used to eat spinach all the time? He was trying to convey this message years ago.
Leafy greens like spinach (palak), lettuce, etc are easily available in the market and can be added to almost any meal.
For instance you can add puree of spinach to your pasta, risotto, smoothies, etc.
You can add chopped lettuce to your sandwich, roll, etc.
These will give the antioxidants and various vitamins that the body needs.
7) Say goodbye to refined carbs for good
All the breads, noodles and n number of pastas are essentially refined carbs!
But you can totally exclude these from your diet.
You can enjoy a bowl of pasta without the refined carbs by opting for options like ragi pasta, oats pasta, etc.
Noodles can also be made using wholewheat, sooji, etc.
Cookies can be made using almond flour or other such healthier substitutes.
8) Don’t forget to keep an eye on the drinks!
This is something that you would probably hear before a party but here we are talking about all the beverages that you may be consuming throughout the day.
Your morning cup of coffee, lassi after lunch, the evening chai, hot chocolate at night before sleeping- all these things are also calories. Just because these are liquids, it doesn’t mean that these do not have any calories!
9) Keep an eye on your “drinking” as well!
Now that we were mentioning about “drinks” let’s also not forget about our “drinking” habits, meaning, our alcohol consumption.
The process of making alcohol involves steps like distillation and filtration which makes it clean in the sense- fit for consumption, but it isn’t a “clean” product meaning it is a synthetically produced thing. It will only harm your body.
So next time you have a shot of tequila with lemon- remember that you should only be having lemon (with water or lemon tea) not the tequila!
You can very well try our lemon tea (we put it to good use) and as you keep an eye on your drink, our drink will keep an eye on your health!
10) READ EVERYTHING!
You should learn how to read labels and keep in mind that all the claims made on the packets may not necessarily be true. Remember to always look for the tiny * asterisk marks or # marks as these marks often have some dark truth hidden under them.
Often the kcal measurement is given for a particular serving size and the pack is usually consisting of several serving sizes.
For example, the whole packet may have 100 g of the product content while the kcal written on the label may be for 10 g which is the serving size or as they call it- the “suggested/recommended serving size”.
These are the dirty tricks that can hinder your clean eating journey.
This is especially true for products like honey, ghee, bread, etc.
Also, don’t forget to check all the ingredients. It will help you to decide whether the product is really clean.
If there are additives like MSG (monosodium glutamate), HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) which is often written as “corn syrup” to mislead the buyers.
And if you find- Butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA) and/or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) it will be a big no-no. These are often added to vegetable oils.
A not so fun fact about food-
If you eat fish then you might have already eaten mercury and if you eat food items containing red colour (which you think are vegan or vegetarian) then you may be shocked to know that those may contain a chemical called “carmine”, which is nothing but an extract of crushed insects!
What you need to remember-
There are often many misconceptions and/or assumptions about clean eating.
So, it is time for some myth busting-
1) First things first, one must remember that the journey will be different for everybody. So, you must not get disheartened if you and your friends follow a similar diet but if they get better results than you as it all depends on one’s metabolism and various other factors like pre-existing conditions, lifestyle, etc.
2) The purpose of this article is to only provide suggestions and motivations.
To make the ultimate, personalized plan for you, it’d be better if you consult a professional one-to-one.
3) Eating less does not mean that you are eating clean.
For example- if you are eating just one cupcake and considering it to be better than eating two bowls of oats- it isn’t the correct way of maintaining your diet. Clean eating is about the quality of the food, not the quantity.
4) The most important thing to understand is- clean eating cannot be a substitute for medications, so, if your doctor has prescribed you some medicines, please do not discontinue those and also remember to discuss the interactions of your ongoing medicines with food items that you plan to consume.
5) Vegetarianism or Veganism may or may not be equivalent to clean eating.
It all comes down to how the food is made and what are the ingredients used in the recipe.
For example- the food item may be vegan but have way too many calories than the RDA (Recommended Daily Average). Fried aloo tikki is vegan and sounds good, but is it really good?
And one last thing to remember-
Do not be too hard on yourself! It’s okay if you fail, it is okay if you just can’t give up an absolute favourite item. You don’t need to punish yourself or feel extremely guilty about it.
And did we mention- it’s also okay to have a cheat day
Which things did you already have an idea about? And which ones did you not know about?
Did we miss any point? Do let us know! We would love to hear/read your comments.
Thank you for reading.
Keep watching this space for more of such informative articles and let us know if you would like to read about any specific topic here.