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When you need a snack, do you reach for the box of crackers or the carrot sticks? Do you buy a lot of food that you see advertised on television? How often does your main course come from a can, bag or box?
Processed food is easy to prepare, enticingly convenient — and so unhealthy.
If you’re in a rut of processed menus, shifting toward a clean diet of minimally-processed food would bring a big change in the way you look and feel. Making that change would require some dedication to a new way of eating.
But the term "clean eating" isn’t self-explanatory. How do you know whether you’re truly eating a clean diet?
What is clean eating?
Eating clean is a lifestyle shift, not a temporary, fad diet. It largely follows one simple rule: if it came from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.
Why should you eat clean?
People that eat a Western diet consisting of processed foods and meats with lots of added fat, sugar and refined grains suffer from increased rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity.
Populations eating a wide range of traditional diets don’t suffer from high rates of these diseases. Diets can range from high fat (Inuits in Greenland who eat seal blubber) to high carbohydrate (South Americans who eat corn, beans and rice).
How do people feel when they eat clean?
If you need further nudging, consider this list of ingredients that are often added to processed foods:
The only acceptable amount of trans fat you should allow in your food is ZERO.
Fruit and veggies: the core of a healthy diet
Truly, the healthiest diet is heavy in fruit and vegetables. Consider these recommendations:
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants — vitamins, minerals and other compounds in foods that may help protect against chronic disease.
Antioxidants work by protecting cells from damage from oxygen. In this way, antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties.
Things to consider when purchasing organic or conventionally grown produce:
Are you ready for a healthy change? How to get started eating clean
Meal planning is the key to avoiding the last-minute fast-food or processed dinner run. Schedule a time to plan out your meals for the week and make a grocery list. Shop and prep as much ahead of time as you can. This will also save time when it comes to whipping up a weeknight dinner or a quick, healthy breakfast.
Some other points to consider when you’re making your shopping list:
When buying meat, poultry or dairy:
If you have any questions about how to eat healthier, consult with your doctor or a dietitian to recommend an eating plan that works best for you.
Check out some Healthy Driven recipes.
For more healthy meal tips, visit Healthy Driven Chicago.
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