Eating Clean in 2014
Well, the impossible has happened. Today was supposed to be the first day of classes for the new semester, but Michigan State University has declared it a snow day! I have decided not to set foot outside considering the weather is termed dangerous. Carley and I actually saw someone snow-shoeing down our street yesterday. Madness! A nice, relaxing day of lounging in bed, stock-piling my articles for the newspaper, watching netflix and cooking a nice dinner sounds like the perfect day to me.
First up on my list of topics to investigate? Clean eating.
Throughout 2013 the phrase “eating clean” has popped up all over blogs, twitter, instagram and facebook, but what does it really mean? Is it a reminder to wash your vegetables before eating them? Not quite. “Eating clean” simply means to eat food that is for the most part empty of things such as artificial flavors and colorings, things that could potentially compromise health. A good rule of thumb for eating clean is to have the shortest list of ingredients possible. Clean eaters put an emphasis on an organic, local approach to purchasing and consuming food. Purchasing foods locally will have a lesser impact on the environment, which is also an important principle to many clean eaters, as well as allow one to know more precisely what the production methods are.
Food production documentaries, such as “Food, Inc.” have aided in the spread of the clean eating trend. These productions have brought attention to the process of production and ingredients of foods to consumers.
Clean eating has also been called a necessity for health. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes have become diseases of second nature to many in the United States. In order to decrease the overwhelming re-occurrence of these diseases it is many times necessary to make dietary lifestyle changes. Adapting the clean eating lifestyle is a change that many who are affected by these diseases are doing.
- Limit processed food. Skip the convenience of pre-packaged foods such as cereal bars and potato chips which can be loaded with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients
- Watch your sodium consumption. The recommended daily limit of sodium is 2,300 mg, however, Americans typically consume 1,000 mg more than that. That is nearly 150% the daily recommendation! High sodium intakes contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease. Cooking from scratch and using “clean” ingredients can help control the amount of sodium that goes into meals.
- Eat less meat. Meats can contain a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol, both things that the eating clean lifestyle tries to reduce. Try smaller portions of meats paired with veggies to amp up the volume of the dish.
- Eat more veggies. Low calorie and nutrient packed, veggies are a clean eating powerhouse. Aim for 2 ½ – 3 cups per day.
- Consume more whole grains. Whole grains contain what refined grains (such as white bread) lack, the bran and germ of the grain. This 2/3 of the grain is packed with fiber to help keep you full. Try steel-cut oats for breakfast or brown rice for a side-dish at dinner.
A common misconception about clean eating is that it costs more. Money-wise it does not cost more; it just takes a little more time and planning. Not sold on the clean eating trend? Try making one clean dinner a week for starters. This one small change could make an impact on your health and lead to adapting other healthy habits!
How will you be spending your time during these frigid temps? Inside I would hope!!