09 Oct 6 Steps to Eating Clean to Optimize Your Health
What is eating clean?
Eating clean is choosing the cleanest source of foods available that are closest to real food (and the ground) as possible. Nowadays, much of our food supply has been processed and gone through so much handling that by the time you eat it, it is devoid of nutrients. Marketing and packaging may make you think differently, so it’s important to stay informed about what you are eating.
What are processed food, exactly?
Let’s discuss the definition of processed foods. According to foodinsight.org, processed foods are defined as “any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat. It can be as simple as freezing or drying food to preserve nutrients and freshness, or as complex as formulating a frozen meal with the right balance of nutrients and ingredients. You can find processed foods in a: bag, box, jar, can or any other container you can think of. Basically, if it is not in it’s whole form, it is processed: A French fry is not a whole food (or a vegetable), but the potato is.
How did this all begin?
Processing foods began about 2 million years ago with the discovery of fire, and food technology has advanced with the innovation of fermentation, canning, jarring, freezing, preserving and dehydrating. We have used these technologies and transferred them to factories, discovering unnatural chemicals to preserve and coloring our food supply with artificial dyes. We have moved over on the spectrum of health to the opposite end of what is natural. Many processed foods contain chemicals, dyes, preservatives and a whole slew of other things that most of us can’t pronounce, which is unusable in your body. Eating processed foods have been linked to many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and many others.
Plant based, Whole Foods = real foods primarily from plant sources. Whole foods are those foods that are in their natural state, as close to coming out of the ground as possible. When we choose whole foods, we are getting the nutrients our body needs in order to be healthy. A whole food diet includes choosing foods in their natural state to increase your nutrient density and avoiding nutrient-poor processed foods. Whole foods mainly include plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. A whole foods diet can provide you with all of the nutrients you need for optimal health.
We’ve all heard sugar is bad and we should avoid it, but what does that all mean? A study in 2015 found that sugar was actually more addictive than cocaine and 94% of mice chose sugar over cocaine. According to Nancy Appleton, author of “Lick the Sugar Habit,” sugar can wreak havoc on the body to include suppressing the immune system, mood shifts in children and adults, hyperactivity, feeding cancer cells, causing obesity, and more!
Sugar is in almost everything we eat, from the obvious sweets, to the not so obvious salad dressings, frozen meals, canned and dried fruit, and white wine. These can be sneaky, so read the label. Know your numbers. 4.2 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon. One cup of cola has 44 grams of sugar which is equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar!
Cooking at home can give you more control over what you’re eating because you can read the labels, choose what goes into your meal and prepare it with love. Eating at home empowers you to eat less processed foods and refined sugar, know where your meals come from, spend quality time with family and save on your monthly budget.
Plan ahead each week and prepare a menu for a couple nights of the week, if you’re new to eating at home. You can even prepare your meals ahead of time. If you choose a rice dish, prepare this on Sunday for Tuesday’s meal. If you tend to eat lunch on the go, get into the habit of packing your own lunch. Make your lunch the night before or eat leftovers for lunch. Once you get into the habit, it’ll become 2nd nature.
4. Think differently about meat
I want to invite you to begin looking at your meals in a new way. We are accustomed to planning our meals around the meat. I want to invite you to begin planning your meals around your veggies. Try having smaller portions of meat with your meal and make the rest a colorful rainbow. If you choose to eat meat, choose only the highest quality of meats. We live in a time that a lot of meat are still farmed with very unethical and improper farming practices. Animals are fed hormones to increase their growth factor and increase milk production. They are given antibiotics to prevent them from getting sick with infection and to kill of the vast amounts of illness they encounter being caged with thousands of other animals without proper
room to move. They are fed grain, rather than grass, which their bodies cannot digest which also lacks nutrients. These practices have greatly reduced the quality of meat. Is that the kind of meat you want to put in your body? If you choose to eat meat, choose meat that are grass fed, organic, no hormones or no antibiotics. Go one step further and try a meatless day of the week! You might be surprised how you can feel satisfied with less meat in your life! Not only will it benefit you, it will also reduce your carbon footprint.
Each meal should consist at least 50% fruits and vegetables that are colorful. Fruits and vegetables are the closest things you can get to eating from the earth. You’ve heard the saying, you are what you eat. When we eat live foods, it gives us energy and aliveness. It fuels our cells with the nutrients we need for survival and optimal health. Live foods are rich in water that will also hydrate you as well. When you consume a vast array of colors of fruits and veggies daily, you are providing your body with all the nutrients each color supplies. Each one has a specific vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to give your body what it needs. Have fun with it and give your veggies a new meaning!
6. Choose organic
What is organic?
What is the hype with organic? What does it all mean? According to the USDA, “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”
Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen
Why is this important? Choosing to eat organic will help keep the toxins out of the soil, the water the air and your body. According to research, traditional farming practices that are not organic have heavy build ups of toxic chemicals that have been known to cause disease, including cancer, autism, asthma, and more. You might be thinking that organic is more more expensive, but in the long term it is less expensive than large medical bills. The other thing you can do is shop from the dirty dozen which is a list of fruits and vegetables that have if you choose to buy non-organic, they have the least amount of pesticides when conventionally grown and on the Clean 15 which is a list of fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticides and should always be bought organic.
How we can help
At Plant Food and Gratitude , we take a coaching stance of individualizing coaching sessions to assist you to manage your health concerns and making health changes to support you and the health of your family. We will support you in making health changes and have coaches that specialize in working with many areas of health.
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