Are you getting tired of hearing, and trying to understand, a new diet-related buzzword every month? We get that. Which is why the whole notion of clean eating is such a breath of fresh air. The whole point of clean eating is to make the nourishment of your body as easy and simple as possible by going back to the basics.
The ABCs of clean eating
So what exactly is clean eating? Let’s start with the building blocks of the clean eating approach:
Eat real food.
Just as much as you need.
Include as much fresh vegetables and fruit as you can.
Choose good food sources.
Hydrate with water.
Now, let’s get into these principles a little bit more..
Eat Real Food
In many ways, it’s a great time to be alive right now. Technology has given us so many wonderful things – the Kindle, fantastic dentistry, wonderful natural supplements, and awesome ways to stay in touch with far-flung friends and family, etc. However, it’s also mixed us up about a lot of things we used to know intuitively. This is especially true about food.
A century ago, our ancestors were still mainly taking care of their own food-supply needs by growing produce and raising animals. They knew where everything they ate came from. These days, we get most of our food from the supermarket. While this is very convenient, it also means we are out of the loop when it comes to the sources of our food, and what goes into the products we buy.
However, clean eating does not mean you need to start homesteading just yet. You can still buy your food from the supermarket – you just need to choose real food. By this we mean whole foods that have not been made into other things yet, i.e. Fruit, vegetables, fresh/frozen meat on the bone, eggs, dry beans and pulses, single-origin oils, etc.
Choosing ‘real’ means choosing to eat food that’s as close to its natural state as possible. As such, you’d make the choice to buy stone-ground wholewheat flour and make your own bread at home, instead of buying store bought bread that has all sorts of refined ingredients and preservatives.
It also means steering clear of pseudo-foods like fortified cereals, energy bars, microwave meals, etc. While these are convenient food choices, for sure, it’s not the best option for your health and vitality by a long shot.
Just As Much As You Need
We’re all for body positivity and there is no way we are going to send you down the calorie-counting rabbit hole. However, everything we know about the human body tells us that it functions so much better when it’s not carrying around too much excess weight. This doesn’t mean you need to be skin and bones, but it does mean you should take care to eat to satiety, and not beyond.
A good place to start is to make time to really enjoy your meals, i.e. sitting down at a table with a napkin and cutlery, and enjoying your food without digital distractions. Chew properly, taste the food and listen to your body’s ‘full’ signals – They’re there, we just don’t hear it that often because we’re eating while we’re working, watching the news, or scrolling through our phones.
It’s this approach that makes clean eating good for weight loss, not because you’re cutting calories, as such, but because you become more conscious of how you feed your body.
Base Your Meals on Fresh Vegetables & Fruit
Here’s some good news for the omnivores out there – you do not have to become a full-on vegan to enjoy the benefits of plenty of fresh fruit and veg. However, you can change your thinking around ‘meal building’ by starting with the fresh stuff, and adding your meat as the side, rather than the other way around.
So, for instance, you may start with a nice sautee of onions, garlic, baby spinach, mushrooms and yellow peppers, add some brown rice, and finish it off with a piece of baked fish and a squeeze of lemon. So much yum! And so many wonderful nutrients in the mix.
Choose Good Food Sources Whenever Possible
Another element of clean eating is choosing ‘clean’ sources, i.e. ethical producers. This means choosing organic fruit and veg, free-range eggs and dairy, and ethically raised meat sources whenever you can. The better the origins of the food you consume, the higher the nutritional value.
Hydrate with Water
Listen, we know you need a cup of coffee now and again – we do too! However, when it comes to the day-to-day, and hour-to-hour hydration of your hard-working body, it’s time to embrace good old H20. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water, and you need to replenish it if you want your body’s systems to run smoothly.
This is the marvellous thing about the body – it knows how to take care of itself! You just need to give it the tools it needs to do so. So even if you only start with one thing on this clean eating list, start by drinking enough water, the general rule of thumb is 8 glasses of water per day. It seems like a lot, but if you drink a glass of water every hour it’s really not all that big of a deal.
Feel like switching it up a little bit? Add some mint and lemon to a jug of water. Or how about some slices of orange and strawberry for a sweeter taste? In winter, you can also enjoy plenty of herbal tea. We highly recommend green tea ( it does contain caffeine – so not too close to bedtime!), rooibos tea (native to South Africa and chock full of antioxidants), and camomile. You can enjoy these hot in winter, and iced in summer – perhaps even make a few lollies?
Choosing to Eat Clean
Clean eating is all about going back to basics and giving your body what it needs to succeed. Start by eating real food, just as much as you need, and including as much fresh vegetables and fruit as you can. Choose good food sources and hydrate with water.
Take it one step at a time, and don’t beat yourself up if you trip over a store-bought cookie now and again. Just do the good stuff again tomorrow. You’ve got this. Enjoy the process and lean into all that vitality and well-being you’ll gain as a result!