Saturday, February 25, 2012

Eating Clean

Clean eating begins with colorful eating
Clean eating has become a trend in the past few years. A simple definition of clean eating is building a diet around whole, unprocessed foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, whole grains and lean proteins. Clean eating will require you to change the way you shop, as well as the way you see food in general. It doesn’t mean, however, that you’re stuck eating bean sprouts and wheatgrass. Here are five quick tips that can help you eat clean and enjoy every bite you take.

Proteins: Think outside the box

The Standard American Diet has changed drastically over the past few decades: a timeline published by the New York Times shows how industrialization has made foods full of refined sugars and fats cheap and widely available. The modern feedlot method has also made meat cheap to produce and buy, which means that American eaters tend to build meals around high-fat animal proteins.

You should think beyond meat when it comes to proteins. Nuts, beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein, and tofu can be used in recipes that call for meat. Vegetables like eggplants, beets, and asparagus can also provide you with the protein you need each day.

Healthy snacking

Committing to eating clean will force you to examine your everyday eating habits. How often do you snack, and what do you snack on? Do you find yourself reaching for a bag of chips instead of making something from scratch?

You don’t have to give up snacking when you’re eating clean — but you do have to snack on whole, unprocessed foods.  Keep raw veggies in your crisper — like carrots, celery and tomatoes — for when you feel a snack attack. You can pair your veggies with easy-to-make dips like hummus and salsa, recipes that require very little cooking or preparation. Fruits can satisfy your sweet tooth, but if you’re looking for cookies or cakes, bake your own using whole grains and natural ingredients. The Clean Eating Club has dozens of recipes tailored for people who want healthy baked goods.

A new way to fry

With almost no exceptions, fried foods are bad news. Breaded foods tend to hold on to the oils they’re fried in, and the breading is often made with refined flour. You can still have the foods you love without all the oil — just trade in those deep fryers for wall ovens instead.

You can use your oven to bake crispy, delicious foods with just a fraction of the fat. You can also substitute traditional breading for healthier whole grains: use whole wheat bread crumbs, or whole wheat flour or almond meal instead of store-bought bread crumbs for crunchy, juicy meats and veggies. Eating Well has an extensive list of oven-fried recipes that are sure to satisfy.

It will take some time for you to adjust to clean eating, but the benefits outweigh the sacrifices. Experiment with the foods you love, learn to shop and to use what’s in your kitchen, and enjoy your new eating lifestyle.

Joseph Baker, who writes this post on behalf of Sears, enjoys spending his time keeping up with the latest innovations in home appliances and healthy living.

Photo credit: Veggies - Viktor Sychkov (Dreamstime)
Photo credit: Whole grains - Janpietruszka (Dreamstime)

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by Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacist

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