The trend came with an explosion. Every second person started posting photos/posts of #clean eating on social media. And foods mainly found in health stores started becoming popular items in supermarkets namely kale, coconut oil, quinoa and chia seeds just to name a few.
Obviously as a health professional I find this quite enlightening as it is so necessary for the population to start taking healthy eating seriously, and realize how important it is to our health, increasing our energy levels and our general well-being.
So what exactly is clean eating?
Reading up a bit on clean eating, I have realized there are many different interpretations, and I think most people honestly follow their own version of “clean eating “ however the crux remains that clean eating is choosing foods in their whole food state or as close as possible to their natural state. Clean eaters will avoid extremely processed, high in sugar and unhealthy fats containing foods as well as artificial ingredients present in foods. Fruits and vegetables will basically be considered the most important foods when eating clean and foods that are organically grown or made with no pesticides, hormones, or GMOs are a part of clean eating for many, and choosing local and in-season produce may be as well.
There a few principles that should ideally be followed when eating clean:
- Choose unrefined foods
Increase the intake of whole grains, legumes and beans. As this is a great source of dietary fibre.
- Include protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats at every meal
We tend to without realizing lack protein in our diet especially at breakfast. Protein is a muscle builder/ replenisher (my own made-up word) and also assists with curbing hunger, basically keeping us fuller for longer during the day. So always remember to include wholegrain starches, healthy fats and lean proteins at every meal.
- Be careful of fat, salt and sugar
This is actually quite easy when eating clean as all the processed foods that are cut out will naturally be low in fat, sugar and salt.
- Eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day
This consists of 3 main meals and perhaps 2-3 snacks in between. These small meals assist with preventing you from over-eating during meals and as these are well-spaced and timed it helps with maintaining normal blood sugar and energy levels.
- Stick to drinking water
High calorie drinks like speciality coffees, sweetened drinks and alcoholic drinks should be avoided. Water and unsweetened Rooibos/herbal tea can be taken without any feelings of guilt. Also considered a clean drink is low fat/skimmed milk.
Physical activity is very important for various reasons especially for decreasing fat, assisting with strengthening muscle, assisting with good sleeping patterns, relieving stress and keeping vital organs healthy.
So now onto the next latest trend that has emerged in 2017- “Clean sleeping”. Although this is a trend this year it should be considered more than just a trend. This is potentially one of the most neglected habits in many people’s lives.
Adequate sleep is so essential and this is considered to be 7-9 hours per night. Poor quality sleep can be disturbing for the metabolism and hormones, which can lead to weight gain, bad moods, impaired memory and brain fog, as well as severe health concerns such as inflammation and reduced immunity (which can increase your risk of chronic disease).And it goes without saying that poor sleep is terrible from a beauty angle.
As sleeping affects one’s appetite, energy and mood levels it automatically becomes the first step to following a healthy diet and eating clean.
Clean eating may be considered just another fad to most people however in order to stay healthy and feel positive it all starts with what we fuel our body with and this is why our dietary choices are so significant. So if clean eating entails posting #clean eating images of salads, green juices and coconut water on social media in order to keep you motivated to eat healthy continue doing so.