There is a lot of chatter and opinions on how to define healthy eating. What should we eat? When should we eat? How much should we eat? Where should we eat? Why do we eat? It is no wonder most people simply throw their hands up and choose the most convenient form of sustenance when selecting what to stuff into their maw. It is also no surprise that a third of Americans are now clinically obese.
I have read numerous books, magazines, and articles, as well as spoken with various nutritionists and experts on the topic of food. I am continually trying to answer the questions above and develop a reasonable eating pattern for my family. While the details continually change, the basis for my family's healthy food consumption is Clean Eating.
What is Clean Eating? Below is the most concise outline I have uncovered. It comes from Clean Eating magazine. I strongly encourage anyone interested on developing a healthy, positive relationship with food to explore CleanEating.com or ToscaReno.com and her Eat Clean series of cookbooks. They changed my life!
The information below in italics is directly from Clean Eating Magazine. Subscribe at CleanEating.com!
The soul of clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. It is not a diet; it's a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation, leading to an improved life - one meal at a time.
Eat Five to Six Times a Day
Three meals and two to three small snacks. Include a lean protein, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and a complex carbohydrate (look for the words WHOLE GRAIN) with each meal. This keeps your body energized and burning calories efficiently all day long.
Choose Organic Whenever Possible
If your budget limits you, make meat (GRASS FED), eggs (CAGE FREE), dairy (PASTURE RAISED), and the Dirty Dozen (PEACHES, APPLES, BELL PEPPERS, CELERY, NECTARINES, STRAWBERRIES, CHERRIES, PEARS, GRAPES, SPINACH, LETTUCE, POTATOES) your organic priorities.
Drink at Least Two Liters of Water a Day (THINK 5 PINT GLASSES - 1 WITH EACH MEAL/SNACK)
Preferably from a reusable canteen, not plastic; we're friends of the environment here! Limit your alcohol intake to one glass of antioxidant-rich red wine a day.
Get Label Savvy
Clean foods contain short ingredient lists. Any product with a long ingredient list is human-made and not considered clean.
Avoid Processed and Refined Foods
Avoid white flour, white sugar, white bread, and white pasta. Enjoy complex carbs such as whole grain instead. Most of your favorite carbs are available in whole grain options.
Know Thy Enemies
Steer clear of anything high in saturated and trans fats, anything fried or anything high in sugar. When you do indulge in these options, be moderate - see Learn About Portion Sizes below.
Consume Healthy Fats
Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) foods like wild caught salmon, organic almonds, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic broccoli and spinach, organic whole grains, and cage free eggs.
Learn About Portion Sizes
Work toward eating within them. The best method we have discovered is the hand method. A serving of protein is the length, width, and depth of your palm; a serving of organic fruit and whole grains fit into one cupped hand; a serving of organic vegetables fits into two cupped hands; sweets and cheats like 70% dark chocolate are the size of your thumb.
Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Eat produce that is seasonal and local. It is less taxing on your wallet and our environment.
Shop with a Conscience
Consume humanely raised and local meats.
Slow Down and Savor
Never rush through a meal. Food tastes better when savored. Enjoy every bite.
Take it to Go
Pack a cooler for work or outings so you always have clean eats on the go.
Make it a Family Affair
Food is a social glue that should be shared with loved ones. Improve the quality of your family's life along with your own.
Clearly, there is a lot of information above. It is challenging to incorporate all of these lifestyle changes at once. Start with one item and make it a habit (we recommend Learn About Portion Sizes). From there you can begin to slowly integrate the other habits. Improve your life one meal at a time!