health: Eat clean and get lean
The following blog post is written by Alena Hickman a dietetic intern at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Alena is spending time this summer interning with Melissa Gerharter MS, RD, CSSD. Alena has a special interest in eating disorders and diabetes and hopes to one day open her own private practice.
Many of us know to wash our hands before eating or to wash off our produce before consuming it. While these behaviors exemplify “clean eating,” there is more to this concept. Clean eating also refers to a 1960’s dietary approach that has been revived by fitness model, Tosca Reno, who has struggled with her weight.
Clean eating focuses on consuming fresh, whole foods that are unprocessed and as close to their natural state as possible. Clean eating is centered on reducing the chemical-laden food and drink from our diet as a means of decreasing the burden our digestive system by not forcing it to process fare that it does not recognize.
Refined, nutrient-poor foods, such as white flour and beverages like sugar-sweetened drinks, should be reduced, with the ultimate goal of eliminating them from the diet. The bulk of the diet should consist of nutrient dense, fiber-rich produce, such as kale, broccoli and apples. Pair fruits and vegetables with complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grain starches. Lean meats, poultry, and fish can serve as accents to your meals.
Proponents of clean eating emphasize that it truly is a way of life rather than a quick-fix diet. Unlike highly restrictive diets, clean eating encourages a variety of foods, so long as they are eaten and/or prepared in a way that does not sacrifice the nutritional integrity.
Preferred cooking methods include steaming or baking, which preserve more nutrients than other methods like deep-frying or boiling. Although clean eating is not about deprivation, moderation is key, so enjoy just a slice of pie, knowing that you can have another slice the next day if you choose.
Clean eating is synonymous with a healthy body. It provides you with energy, a strong immune system, and allows you to feel your best. There is no magic behind clean eating. Its principles are simple — stick with what nature has to offer, which is plenty.
We have become accustomed to manmade and artificial flavors. Thankfully, our taste buds are flexible and can be trained to appreciate foods without all the dyes and fillers. So go ahead and swap your lunchable for a lunch you’re able to digest!