8 Benefits of Clean Eating & How To Get Started
What exactly is clean eating? Well, you could say that it’s a modern term for eating fresh and healthier foods. This eating style is largely due to a greater awareness of nutrition.
But it might still be unclear for the majority of people exactly what clean eating means, what to eat and what the benefits are?
Many people think it has to do with weight loss. And yes, people who eat clean can lose weight – if they want to.
However, eating clean can offer so much more than just weight loss. Many people who follow a clean eating diet find that it enhances their health and energy levels.
There is no “exact” definition to clean eating though, so what it means will to a certain degree depend on who you ask – and how “strict” they draw the line as to what foods they consider belong to a clean eating diet.
But generally speaking, clean eating refers to eating foods that are as close as possible to their natural state, and to cook meals from scratch.
Clean eating focuses on eating natural foods like whole-grains, fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds and plant based oils.
Foods that should be avoided are overly processed foods, foods with synthetic ingredients, added sugar, sodium, chemicals, preservatives, food dyes and other additives.
So what can clean eating do for you?
Keep reading to see what some of the benefits are, what foods to eat and how to eat them!
8 Desirable Benefits of Clean Eating Worth Knowing
1. Promotes Your Health
Healthier food choices may increase your immune system and reduce your risk for heart disease and certain cancers. Other positive health benefits are improved brain health and blood sugar control.
2. Better Sleep
Studies also show that people consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates, particularly added sugars, have a higher risk to develop problems with insomnia. Whereas people consuming a healthy diet with high amounts of vegetables, fiber, whole fruit (not juice) and healthy fats are less likely to develop problems with insomnia, but instead have a higher sleep quality.
3. More Energy
Eating nutritious meals throughout the day keeps your blood sugar stable and can therefore increase your energy level and carry you through your day without any highs and lows. Eating for energy can help you stay focused and alert all day long.
4. Lose Weight & Stay Slim
Processed foods and foods high in sugar contain many empty calories, which easily can pack on extra pounds – especially as we grow older. Clean eating means nutrient dense foods – which helps you keep fit and feel full while having smaller portions.
It can be acknowledged as a “weight loss method” that can be followed for life, without depriving yourself or using unhealthy tactics.
5. Glowing Skin & Shiny Hair
Eating clean may also show up in your skin, hair and nails!
The reason for this is that you’re getting more vitamins, minerals and hydration from your diet.
Additionally, eating fruits and veggies containing carotenoids, a color pigment in fruits and veggies, gives your skin a healthy glow, and who doesn’t want that?!
6. Break Sugar Addiction & Less Cravings
Eating healthy meals and snacks loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals throughout the day will keep your blood sugar at a healthy level, and you’ll find that cravings for sugar and junk will decrease.
7. Lower Inflammation
Inflammation is at the root of many cases of pain and disease. Natural, whole foods have healing properties that can help to minimize and manage inflammation.
Additionally, eating clean can help to get your body in balance – hormonal balance included.
8. Better Mood
There’s a strong correlation between food and mood. The link between food and depression and anxiety has long been disregarded.
However, studies have showed that the link between diet and emotions does exist. It stems from the close relationship between your brain and the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.
Eating nutritionally dense food promotes the growth of “good” bacteria, which in turn positively affects the production of the carry messages dopamine and serotonine, the so called “happy hormones”.
Additionally, as a “bonus” benefit, clean eating is also good for the planet as well as for those who inhabit it. Promoting a sustainable food supply with green practices, such as buying local and seasonal organic produce, helps to reduce our carbon footprint.
Clean Eating: What to Eat & Drink
- Switch to whole foods. Get most of your calories from foods in their natural state. Opt for brown rice instead of white. Munch on a fresh apple instead of fruit flavored cereal bars.
- Focus on vegetables and fruits. Aim for at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. It’s easier to do if you plan snacks and meals around soups, salads and stir fries.
- Consume healthy fats. The kinds of fats you eat may be more important than the total amount. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as omega-3s, are good for your heart and brain when eaten in moderation.
- Spread out the protein. Beans, fish, and lean cuts of meat are excellent sources of protein. Your body breaks down protein more effectively when you eat small portions more frequently, rather than saving it all for dinner.
- Stay hydrated. Our bodies need water even more urgently than food. The old saying about drinking 8 glasses a day is still a good rule of thumb.
- Drink responsibly. Fancy cocktails are often loaded with sugar and calories. On the other hand, a single glass of wine provides antioxidants and other health benefits.
4 Basic Tips How to Get Started
1. Have 6 meals per day. The framework is to eat 3 meals a day, and three snacks, so you will have to make your portions smaller. Make time for breakfast. Start the day with a hearty breakfast. If you’re in a rush, pick something you can eat on the go, like a smoothie with yogurt, kale and berries. Add some protein powder if you want to up the protein.
2. Read labels. Maybe you depend on some convenience foods in order to juggle your busy schedule, family responsibilities and business travel. Don’t worry, we all do now and then. Just make the best of your situation by learning to decipher nutrition labels. Less ingredients usually equals a healthier choice. High quality protein powder may be a great addition to have in your smoothies. Frozen dinners high in salt and saturated fat may be a habit you want to break.
3. Control portions. Almost any food can be adapted for clean eating. If you love bacon, choose lower fat versions, like turkey or Canadian bacon, and limit it to once a week or less. Asparagus lovers can indulge all they want, as long as they go easy on the butter. Optimal is to have approx. 55% complex carbs, 27% lean proteins and 18% healthy fats.
4. Learn to cook. Preparing and cooking your own food at home gives you more control and saves money. Browse online for recipes, such as instant soup with frozen edamame or quick dinners with eggs and a variety of leftovers. Cook an extra portion or two and put in the freezer for another day.
Clean Eating Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated
Nowadays lots of foods sold in grocery stores are processed to some extent, but that doesn’t mean that ALL processed foods are bad and must be avoided. That would be quite difficult, and we don’t want it to be too difficult!
A nutritious and healthy diet can include also e.g. frozen and canned produce. However, when choosing canned or frozen foods read the labels and avoid items that are unnecessary high in sodium, sugar, syrups or contain additives.
By simply cutting out ultra-processed foods and instead adding more natural, whole foods to your daily meals, your health may improve in numerous ways.
You’ll look and feel better, and you may even live longer with a higher quality of life!
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Have you any experience of Clean Eating? Please share what’s worked for you in the comments below. And don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!
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