October 18, 2010

Clean Eating #1: My Definition

In the genetic game of life I rolled a snake eyes with hereditary conditions of both high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Since a healthy diet is helpful in managing both, I researched and read about what I could do and what might work best for me. What I settled on is a way of eating best described as Clean Eating. Eating this way makes the most sense to me among a sea of nutrition debate--meat or not meat, dairy or no dairy, carbs or no carbs, etc. Not to mention all the ambiguity about what nutrients we need, how much we need and whether they are good or bad!

Simply put, clean eating to me is eating real food. Food that is not some concocted substance created in a factory. Clean eating is avoiding processed foods and all the artificial ingredients, unhealthy fats, refined grains, preservatives, chemical additives, sugars and salt they contain. It is buying foods in their raw state, or as close as possible to how they are found in nature. Clean eating is preparing at home and eating:
  1. Whole grains
  2. Fresh fruits and vegetables
  3. Lean meat, mostly fish and poultry, minimizing red meat
  4. Healthy fats such as olive, and seed oils
  5. Nuts and legumes
  6. Eggs and reduced fat dairy
When purchasing these foods I try to buy as much of them as I can organic. If I want a processed food, I look for those with ingredients I would keep on my own shelves (or at recognize the name!), with the fewest amount of ingredients and with the least amount of added sugar, salts and fat.

It is a habit on mine to always read labels and don't assume that if it's organic, vegetarian or vegan it's healthy. A processed food made with organic ingredients is still a processed food; as is fake cheese and meat-like products made from soy or grains (such as seitin, or gluten).  While it can be argued that eating a vegie burger is preferable to eating a hamburger made from regular ground beef. I'd rather have a burger made with very lean beef, turkey breast, or mashed beans than from soybeans over-processed into a food-oid product. The same goes for other imitation foods such as margarine, non-dairy topping, many non-fat dairy products, and most foods you can find a coupon for or listen on sale in grocery store fliers.

It is also a goal of mine to limit sugars--ALL sugars including: honey, agave nectar, maple sugar, raw and plain old white sugar, and artificial sweeteners. If sugar is listed among the first few ingredients on a packaged food product it usually goes back on the shelf. I try to satisfy my sweet tooth with fruit, eating fresh fruit for snacks and using dried fruits and juices in baked goods.

One of the best books on this eating lifestyle is
Michael Pollan's book Food Rules: an Eater's Manual.
It is a concise handbook with simple guidelines
on what to eat and what to avoid.

Am I perfect at eating this way, heck no! One of the joys of eating is breaking the rules now and then and not obsessing over them. But by striving to eat this way on a daily basis means the occasional times I don't won't impact my health and happiness.

Upcoming Post: How to get started eating clean.

Clean Eating Magazine
Dash Diet to lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Michael Pollan

    1 comment:

    1. I am definitely go look up that book. Some pretty big events coming up for me in the next year. I need to get my nutrition under control.