What does it mean to eat “clean”? It truly depends on who you ask. For some, it’s a literal term, referring to foods that aren’t covered in pesticides and biological contaminants—it’s organic produce over conventional. For others, eating clean is a matter of choosing the simplest, most wholesome foods, the ones without ingredients lists and unpronounceable components. But really, these two schools of thought are not so different.
Whether you are referring to the physical cleanliness of your food or the more metaphorical clean, it’s simple to clean up your diet and get healthier in the process.
1. If it’s in a Box, Bag, or Can: Skip It
Processed foods (and lack of exercise) are the biggest culprit when it comes to ill health. People who do all of their shopping in their grocers outer aisles, where produce and meats are located, are simply healthier.
Why? These foods that you find in the inner aisles of your grocery store are loaded with things to make them last forever, things to make them taste better, and things to improve their texture. These “things” are not food, and instead are additives, preservatives, colors, binders, and other lab-made components that provide little nutritional value. Maybe this is why 80% of the processed foods in the U.S. are banned around the world.
2. Choose Organic and Local Whenever Possible
Organic produce, by its very nature, has fewer contaminants. No pesticides or genetically modified components should be present, either. By choosing organic, you aren’t only lessening your exposure to these toxins, but you are eating foods that are better able to deliver the nutritional benefits within. Local organics are even better, as they are in season and purchased to support local small businesses and farmers.
3. Be a Food Minimalist
Keep it simple. Some of the healthiest foods (avocados, kale, garlic, turmeric) are easy to use and don’t require much alteration (if any) from their natural state. Ketchup, barbeque sauce, conventional salad dressings, seasoning salt—all of these may add another layer of flavor to your food, but they also add another layer of ill-health. Besides, if the taste of your food needs to be covered up, perhaps you should look for more enjoyable and healthful alternatives.
4. Eat More Plants
5. Don’t Drink Your Calories
Perhaps the most important thing you can consume each day is water. Nearly all other beverages are filled with ingredients that don’t fuel ultimate health. Definitely ditch the sodas and conventional juices, but also be wary of those teas and “smoothie” drinks that claim to be “all natural”.