Because of my stomach issues (I still don’t know what’s wrong with me), I have to watch my diet carefully to keep from suffering horrible pain.
In hopes of finding some better cooking techniques, I turned to the Internet. I found many “don’t use butter, use applesauce” type advice articles to help me cut cholesterol and bad fat out of my diet. (Believe me, I need it!)
I also found an article (from Livestrong.com, of course) about “clean eating.”
According to the article, clean eating refers to a diet that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods low in saturated fat, added sugar, sodium, preservatives, artificial colors and artificial flavors. Clean foods include: anything high in nutrients and fiber and often organically grown and prepared. Well, this diet seems to be what I’m looking for! (But I’m not paying for organic.)
Many people are interested in clean eating (not just to avoid horrible pain) because it offers many health benefits, such as weight control and lowered risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases (and horrible pain).
Step One: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. (Well, duh.) A major tenet of clean eating is consuming plant-based foods.
Step Two: Choose whole grains instead of processed and refined grains. (Duh… again?)
Step Three: Eat lean sources of protein. While many clean-eating diets are largely or completely vegetarian (gross), many people LOVE meat and should focus on lean cuts of beef, low-fat poultry and fish.
Step Four: Refrain from processed snack foods and sugary drinks. No chips, candy, pastries or soda! Boo!
If you haven’t noticed, this diet sounds like the advice you get NO matter what specific diet you follow. Clean eating is another way of saying healthy eating.
However, since I took the time to read about it, I will add to it.
Joe Wilkes for Extremely Fit suggests five ways to get more fruit in your diet.
1. Cut it! Instead of tackling an entire apple at a time, slice several apples into bite-size pieces and store them in an air-tight contain or zipper bag. If you toss them with lemon juice, you will prevent browning for at least a day. Plus, you know how the “apple a day keep the doctor away?” While that might not be true, apples are still totally good for you.
2. Mix it! Getting sick of apples? Weirdo. However, mixing up the varieties of fruit you eat leads to consumption of a greater range and amount of nutrients. By far, my favorite fruit is a peach, and while I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of them, I might as well keep my options open.
3. Dip it! I can dip something??? Yay! Mix up some nonfat or low-fat yogurt with a little cinnamon. Or dunk your fruit in some unsweetened peanut butter. (Blogger’s note: Unsweetened peanut butter is disgusting and has barely any flavor UNLESS you eat it with a sour, tart fruit like an apple –Granny Smith, anyone? –and then it tastes fabulous. It is a whole transformation.)
4. Add it! Cereals with dried fruits are lying to you. Cut up your own apples or add your own fresh or frozen berries to your oatmeal every morning. The nutrient value is must higher.
5. Freeze it or can it! Fresh fruit may taste better, but it doesn’t last very long with preservation techniques. Buying frozen or canned fruit is usually just as healthful as the fresh variety. Pear juice is a common canning juice and is not bad for you. (Pears are ripe forever.*) And frozen berries are perfect for throwing into anything! Good tip: Browning bananas are still good bananas. Peel them and store them in foil in the freezer.
The article would also like to make it very clear that “fruit juice” is not fruit. Fruit juice is loaded FULL of sweeteners and little nutrients. Generally, it’s bad for you. Sorry, kiddos!
Finally, here are five things you need to know about whole grains.
1. They can be added to any diet plan because they are fabulous.
2. A whole grain includes all three components of the kernel –the germ, endosperm (gross!) and the bran. When all three are together, the result is a powerhouse of healthy fat, protein, complex carbs, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. If you also hate the word endosperm, here is a little-known factoid: Refined flour is nothing but the endosperm, and that’s disgusting.
3. Wheat bread is a good source of whole grains when the first ingredient reads “whole wheat.” However, with many wheat breads, the first ingredient is often “wheat flour,” and that’s not good.
Instead, choose breads that are chewy and dense, often called peasant breads and are loaded with whole grains. If seeds and grains are visible in the bread, you’ve got what you need.
4. The Whole Grain Council actually exists. Awesome. They have their own stamp for certified whole grain foods!
5. Your best bet (to get the RDA of whole grains as well as the health benefits) is to eat more than 3-5 servings daily of grains, such as barley, brown rice, quinoa and oats.
*Pears: Referenced from Eddie Izzard “Definite Article,” pears are ripe for half an hour. They are either a rock or they’re mush, but they are a “rock” forever, and that’s what I meant. I’m sure the preserved juice lasts much longer than half an hour. Please. Please watch Eddie Izzard.