Reap the Benefits of Clean Eating
Clean eating has become a popular catch-phrase, so you’ve no doubt heard it a million times. But what exactly does it mean? It’s simple, really. Clean eating means eating food that is as close to its original form as possible. One easy way to ensure that your diet is clean is to shop the perimeters of your supermarket. This is typically where you will find fresh produce, bulk nuts, beans, seeds, and legumes, unprocessed meats, eggs, and dairy. It does not include refined flours and sugars. Avoiding anything that comes in a can, jar, or package is one surefire way to ensure that you are eating a clean diet. It also includes drinking plenty of water each day.
Clean eating can include meat and dairy. It can also be vegetarian or vegan. Despite popular misconceptions, not all vegetarian and vegan diets are clean! If you are living off of packaged, processed foods like vegan hot dogs and veggie burgers, your diet isn’t very clean. If you choose to include meat, eggs, and dairy in your diet, it is best to choose organic and hormone-free products from animals kept in clean and humane conditions.
Why Eat Clean?
Clean eating offers a wide variety of both short-term and long-term health benefits. This is how our bodies are meant to be fed, and we are better able to process and metabolize foods when they are in their natural state. Clean foods are more nutrient dense, easier to digest, and lack harmful additives like dyes and preservatives.
Immediate Benefits to Clean Eating
- It’s easier to achieve and maintain your body’s natural set point for weight – You don’t need expensive or unrealistic fad diets to achieve a healthy weight. Something miraculous happens with clean eating; your weight tends to take care of itself to a large degree. When you eat whole foods, your tendency to feel full sooner than you should or hungry after you’ve consumed enough calories decreases. As your body adjusts to clean eating, you’re more likely to eat the right amounts at meals and snacks without counting calories. This means that if you’re already at a normal weight, you’ll probably stay there. People who are overweight tend to lose, and those who are underweight tend to gain.
- You’ll have more energy – If you are chronically exhausted or experience a post-lunch midday slump, it could very well be your diet. Diets that are high in refined sugar and carbs cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar. They might provide a temporary surge in energy, but it is followed by a crash. Not only will you be able to accomplish more while feeling better throughout your days, when you’re feeling healthfully energetic, you’re more inclined to exercise. This is the opposite of a vicious cycle! The more energy you have, the more you’ll exercise, and the more you exercise, the more energy you have.
- Brain fog subsides – If you frequently experience foggy, unclear thinking, this should subside dramatically with clean eating. You’ll be sharper and more focused, and your memory will improve.
- You’ll sleep better – There are many reasons for insomnia, but diet is one of the key players. Caffeine and sugar are no-brainers, but did you know that foods like processed meats and Chinese food containing MSG can also wreak havoc on your sleep? It’s true. Many artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives have the nasty side effect of keeping you up at night.
- Your skin will look better – While beauty is more than skin-deep, what’s on the surface is certainly affected by what goes into our bodies. Whether your skin is too oily or too dry, prone to acne, or becoming prematurely wrinkled, you’ll see improvements with clean eating. Proper hydration and nutrient dense foods can shave years off the appearance of your skin. Ditch the expensive (and oftentimes toxic) wrinkle creams and serums and spend the money on high quality food.
- Improved immune functioning – With all of the nutrient packed foods you’ll be eating, your immune system will be primed to function optimally. That means fewer colds, coughs, and bouts of flu.
- Risk of cancer decreases – Clean foods are high in antioxidants. Highly processed foods oftentimes contain known carcinogens.
- Risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes decreases – The fewer refined, high sugar foods you eat, the less likely you are to develop diabetes. It’s that simple.
- Risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack decreases – A diet packed full of fresh produce and healthy fats, and devoid of unhealthy fats, means that your heart and arteries will be at their best for years to come.
- Risk of dementia decreases – When our brains are well nourished, they function better for longer. There is also disturbing evidence mounting that some of the chemicals used in processed foods, as well as the packaging, play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Your quality of life will be higher for longer – Not only are you likely to live longer by avoiding the diseases listed above, your years on the planet are likely to be much more enjoyable. We’ve all met 75 year olds who can barely get out of bed, and it is heart-wrenching. If you’re lucky, you’ve also met 75 year olds who are sharp as a tack, have active social lives, and still enjoy activities like gardening and yoga class.
There are so many compelling reasons to give clean eating a try. Whether you’re more worried about your appearance, your energy levels, or how you’re going to feel in thirty years, your diet plays a role. Go clean, and you will begin to notice differences within a few weeks. If you haven’t noticed significant changes within a month or two, consult with a healthcare provider, as there could be something else affecting how you feel. Once you’ve experienced the clean eating difference, you’ll never want to live any other way.
Devon is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Mental Health/Substance Abuse Counselor and a nationally certified teacher. As a Personal Trainer, she focuses on incorporating whole body wellness through nutrition, movement, and stretching, including off-site activities. She is committed to helping people be their highest selves in all areas: body, mind, and spirit. Her expertise, enthusiasm, energy and educational background serve to create a unique blend of services and techniques employed to help you reach your goals. For training, coaching, or counseling sessions, please contact her at 505.469.0779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.