A Crash Course in Clean Eating

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Photo by Peggy Greb, Public Domain

Clean eating has its origins in the 1960s, right around the time when radical movements for moral and societal change were in full swing. In terms of diet, vegetarianism and outdoor cooking to replicate what our forefathers became popular. But after the 60s, convenience and cost gave rise to the processed food industry, and advancements in technology and other lifestyle changes meant that many people fell into sedentary lifestyles. Clean eating has since resurfaced as a trend and many people are embracing as a way to complement their fit lifestyles, because they have realized that being physically healthy helps improve
their results.

Consuming foods that are minimally processed or not processed at all is the basis for clean eating. This is no small task, as so many readily available foods are processed and have been for decades. Aluminum cans were first used commercially in the 1960s, making storage and the preservation of foods easier. Sterilization innovations like irradiation to sterilize dried fruits and vegetables also came into common use. For a long time, similar considerations took priority over health. Take refined grains, which start out as whole grains with the bran, germ, and endosperm intact. They are then processed for longer shelf life and a more attractive appearance. They may also be exposed to pesticides, additives, and preservatives, and the benefits of fiber, B vitamins, etc. are lost. Sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, which have become more prevalent, are also frowned upon when you’re trying to eat clean.

On the plus side, the clean eating practitioner generally doesn’t worry about counting calories or following a fad diet like low fat or low carb. The benefits of vegetables and fruits are already recognized. Cherries, for example, are rich in nutrients, especially potassium and vitamin C. Leafy green vegetables, along with other natural foods, are good for longevity. Every meal should include some carbohydrate, protein, and fat, and unrefined foods like brown rice, amaranth, beans and legumes are good choices. And if you have a sweet tooth, you can rely on the natural sugars in fruit to reduce your cravings, plus organic honey or maple syrup are generally healthier sweetening options.

Another big issue is lunch, which is an important meal because it elevates your blood sugar level in the middle of the day after it has started to wane. It gives you the additional energy needed to allow you to focus for a few more hours, especially if you have made a meal choice that is clean. People who forgo lunch because they are busy or want to diet tend to gain weight because by dinner time, they are too ravenous to control their portions. But there are many options for lunchtime fare that can satisfy your appetite without making you feel sluggish. A clean lunch is not too heavy, so it doesn’t force your body to direct all its resources to the digestive process just to get rid of it. Here is a wonderfully light yet filling clean meal with papaya with olives and brown rice to keep you on top of your game.

Sedentary lives and modernization have made clean eating more difficult to achieve. And with convenience have come poorer health and preventable, but life-threatening diseases. Moving back to less processed food can only have the side effect of improving your longevity, quality of life and weight loss. And with determination, the negative effects of not eating clean can be turned around, especially when you think of eating this way as less of a chore and more of a gift to your health.

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