So this past weekend was a pretty relaxing one with some friend hangouts, movie watching, and house cleaning – I finally cleaned the garden. But besides that nothing super exciting and really worth reporting happened, so I figured I would take this opportunity to do a little “what’s your deal” post on clean eating seeing how Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge is coming up in just a little over a week.
I have received some broad questions about what clean eating is, what types of foods will still be allowed, what is considered processed and in general just how does it work? So I figured I would just do a quick little run down to hopefully help with people’s understanding of what clean eating is all about. Hopefully the post on how to prepare also helped to answer some of these questions.
To make it a bit easier to get the information down I am going to use the good old fashioned Question and Answer format. Please know that if you have any other questions about clean eating or the challenge please either post your questions and comments below or fire off an email and I would be happy to answer your questions. In the meantime here are some Q&As on clean eating.
What is Clean Eating anyways?
Clean eating operates on the premise that food is fuel, tasty fuel but fuel nonetheless and if used properly it is the best medicine and energy we can feed our bodies. The idea is to eat real foods, you know the ones that come from nature and haven’t been messed with so they have a shelf life of 4 years. Clean eating is about feeding yourself natural whole foods and liquids that are not processed, like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean meats, lots of water, and complex carbs.
What’s different about it?
Well it is only different because of how a lot of people would normally eat. A lot of us will pick up a box of crackers, organic cereal, or a bag of breads and not think much about reading the ingredients or really questioning where it is from, especially if it is labeled as organic. Clean eating gets you thinking about what types of foods you are buying and feeding yourself. It is different in that clean eating encourages you to read labels and to only purchase things that are not riddled with preservatives artificial flavours, and other chemicals that make them fattier, more difficult for our bodies to break down, and gives them the shelf life no food product could ever naturally have.
So it is different because the majority of the foods eaten on this diet have one item on their ingredient list, for example a tomato would just be a tomato. However if you were to purchase a clean pre-made product it would have a minimal listing of ingredients, and you would be able to read and pronounce all listed.
Do you still eat fatty foods?
Of course! Clean eating is about promoting a healthy lifestyle, Gingersneezes is conducting a 50 day challenge so you can get a feel for what clean eating is all about and maybe even decide to keep up the lifestyle afterwards, clean eating isn’t a quick fix.
So yes you do still eat fatty foods while eating clean, but I am not talking about deep fried pickles, poutine, and pogos. I am talking about avocados, oils, dairy, nuts and seeds. Your body needs healthy fats, they are one of the main sources of energy for our day to day activities so they are definitely something you shouldn’t be avoiding while eating clean, you just need to make sure you are selecting the best kind for your body, and aim for 2-3 servings of fat a day.
How important is water?
Water is literally the essence of life! If you are not on good terms with water now would be a great time for you to get acquainted. Besides the fact that your own body is more than 60% water, it is important for healthy joint movement, organ function, breathing, everything water is important to everything. Being so important eating clean stresses ensuring you are getting enough, and enough is between 2-3 liters a day. Basically you should be sipping on water all day long, hence my recommendation to go and get yourself a reusable water bottle, it will become your best friend.
I am eating healthy do portion sizes still matter?
Like any type of eating (healthy, unhealthy, vegan, vegetarian, etc.) portion sizes are always important. Not only do they help you keep an eye on the quantity of food you are eating, but they also help to make sure you are getting enough fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains, fats, and water throughout the day. So even though you will be eating very healthy it is still important to monitor the amount of food you are eating to make sure you are either getting enough or having too much. I would recommend a food journal. It will help you keep track of what you are eating and to keep track of how you are feeling during the challenge.
So what do I avoid?
As I mentioned above clean eating is about eating natural whole foods. Foods that aren’t riddled with chemicals and preservatives but it might be more helpful to have a bit more of an exhaustive list of foods to avoid. While eating clean you want to avoid; overly processed foods (white flour, table sugar, corn syrup, etc); artificial foods (oreos, processed cheese singles, etc); saturated and trans fats as they normally mean a lot of preservatives; foods and drinks loaded with sugars; alcohol; and high calorie low nutritional benefit foods (poutine, pizza, potato chips, etc.).
What is there left to eat?
It might sound complicated and overwhelming giving up all of your boxed foods I mean now what right? Well luckily nature has already done most of the work for you. You will have to rely on your cooking skills possibly more than before and you will definitely be eating more colourful meals, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Clean eating promotes relying on fruits and vegetables to get vitamins,minerals and fiber. For protein pick a leaner healthier cut of meat or plant based alternatives (poultry, fish, lean beef, elk, emu, bison, tofu, legumes). Grains are still allowed and encouraged you just need to make sure they are whole grains, sprouted is also great for you (think brown rice, ezekiel bread, whole grain breads and pastas). Dairy is also a great source of healthy fats and calcium (go for greek yogurt, strong cheeses, goat cheeses, organic, cottage cheese, etc.).
Although you might have to prepare most, if not all of your foods, there is an abundance of foods and flavours out there for you to explore and if you are in the Ottawa area in just a little over two weeks you will be able to get your delicious fruits and vegetables, meats and eggs and dairy from the local Farmer’s market.
What does it all come down to?
In the end clean eating really comes down to knowing which pre-made store products are “clean products” just a heads up not a lot of them will be, and secondly and probably most importantly it is about preparation. Anything is possible if you just plan a little.
Cleaning out your fridge and pantries before the challenge starts will help to give you an idea of the types of foods you are currently buying and eating. It will also help give you an idea of what is in those foods, are you seeing a lot of words you can’t pronounce, are there endless listings of food colours, preservatives or the word enriched and refined popping up here and there? Knowing where you are starting will help you plan for success.
Planning is so very very important when starting something new. Planning and preparing in advance can be the difference between being successful or breaking your challenge a couple of days in. I personally find it very helpful to use my Sunday to get groceries, and prepare some of my protein and vegetables for the week, so when I am in a pinch I have some easy clean foods to just throw into my lunch bag for a healthy well rounded lunch.
Can I still have protein powder?
Now this is a tricky one, seeing how there are mixed reviews on protein powder to begin with, now adding in the clean eating can pose some additional questions. So it is really your call when it comes to protein powder, it is also very dependant on the type of powder you are using. If you are using a protein powder where you can’t read a single one of the ingredients I would go with a NO don’t use it, but if you have found a protein that sticks to the clean eating criteria listed above I would say YES!
Personally I use New Zealand Whey there are four ingredients and I can pronounce all of them, also my personal trainer recommended it. However I have tried Vega and their ingredient list is pretty impressive, all plant based organic ingredients, I just had a difficult time modifying the flavours to my liking, but I have been told that it grows on you. Lastly, I have been reading and hearing a lot about Sunwarrior, it is a completely raw vegan option and I have read some great reviews on it, however I have not tried it so if you have let me know what you think.
So this is all I have for now. If you have any more questions, concerns or comments, please add them to the comment boxes below and I would be happy to answer you. I am almost done with the rules for the challenge and I am getting very excited! I will be cleaning out my kitchen this week, and I hope it isn’t as bad as I think it might be.
Happy Monday, and I hope you all had a great weekend!