Clean Eating Core Principles
by acac Nutritionist Margaret Moses
With each move, the clean eating concept became more refined and developed. Here are the seven core principles of today:
1. Choose whole, natural foods and seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods. Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can, or package, and although there are always a few exceptions to the rule (like a bag of fresh green beans), the majority of your foods should be fresh.
2. Choose unrefined over refined foods. While it may not be possible all the time, you can up your intake of whole grains like brown rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa. Beans and legumes are also important. Clean sugars include honey, maple syrup, and dehydrated sugar cane juice.
3. Include some protein, carbohydrate, and fat at every meal. Most of us typically do well with carbohydrates and fat, but we often lack protein, especially in the early part of the day, like at breakfast and lunch. Protein is an important muscle-builder, and it can also help curb your appetite. When eaten throughout the day, it keeps us feeling full longer. Be aware of the kinds of meals you put together and space out your protein.
4. Watch out for fat, salt, and sugar. This is easier than you think, particularly if you’ve cut out processed foods, which are responsible for most of our excess calories and high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Clean foods are usually naturally low in all of these ingredients.
5. Eat five to six meals throughout the day. This usually pans out into three main meals and two or three hefty snacks. Eating this way prevents you from skipping meals and overeating. It also keeps your blood sugar levels steady so energy doesn’t lag.
6. Don’t drink your calories. High calorie drinks like specialty coffees and soft drinks, on average, tack on an extra 400 to 500 calories a day. Choose water first, or my personal favorite, unsweetened tea (any flavor). Other clean drinks: low-fat or skim milk and 100 percent fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.
7. Get moving. Regular physical activity is a must for many reasons. Not only does it decrease fat, strengthen, and build muscle, and help you burn more energy at rest, it keeps your heart, lungs, and bones healthy and strong.
If you’d like to learn more about clean eating or have a question about nutrition, contact acac Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist Margaret Moses.