Clean Eating

Acai bowlWhat does it mean to “eat clean?” It is a buzz topic centered around the consumption of healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. We see so many different things in the media every day directing us on what to eat, and what not to eat. Nutrition is ever changing and evolving, with new studies and research out all of the time telling us what will help or hurt us nutrition wise. I am here as your go-to Registered Dietitian to separate theory and fact regarding nutritional benefits (or hazards) of foods.

 

Clean Eating dates back to the 1960’s but the lines of “wholesome” food have been blurred with the constant increase in processed snack foods that appear healthy from the front packaging but actually contain unhealthy ingredients when you read and dissect the nutrition facts label. Many companies try to make their foods appear as “whole” and “natural” to the consumer, when in reality, there is added sugar, salt or even trans fat to preserve the shelf life of the product. It is important to stay educated about these foods. I help my clients select nutrient packed foods to create balanced meals during my grocery store tours. They are always astonished to see what foods really pan out to be as good for you, as they appear from the front packaging.IMG_7072

Guidelines for clean eating:

  1. Choose whole, natural foods instead of processed foods – The majority of these foods should be fresh with no additives or preservatives. Red flags on the ingredients list include: high fructose corn syrup, partially or fully hydrogenated oils, and/or any dyes (food coloring).

  1. Eat small, frequent meals – Consuming 5-6 meals spread throughout the day can help you maintain or lose weight (lose fat mass and increase lean muscle), maintain good blood sugar control, boost metabolism, increase energy and mental focus/clarity during your work or school day.

  1. Incorporate balanced meals –  It is very important to include a lean protein, high fiber carbohydrate and heart healthy fat at every meal. Many people consume inadequate protein during their breakfast and lunch meals, and try to make up for it during dinner. This is the perfect example of when ¾ of your calories are consumed at 3pm or later and affects body composition, causing increased fat mass. Make sure to incorporate lean proteins with each meal to increase satiety, help with muscle maintenance or building and weight control.IMG_7070

  1. Watch out for the “tri-fecta” – Fat, salt and sugar are the three weapons, that when combined can be deadly! Processed foods such as salty potato chips or baked goods from the dessert section contain the “tri-fecta.” These foods affect hormone regulation and leave your body screaming for more. Clean foods are low in these ingredients, and high in fiber and nutrients to leave you energized and satisfied.

  1. Choose unrefined over refined foods – Consuming high fiber foods with whole grains vs refined grains is very important for consumption of B vitamins, helps to aid a healthy digestive tract and immune function as well as maintenance of proper blood sugar control and weight.

  1. Exercise is essential! Get moving! Regular physical activity helps to keep your heart, lungs and bones strong and healthy. It also helps to relieve stress, and increase sleep. It yields increased energy and leads to more productive work or school days. Exercise releases those happy “endorphins” which make everything in life better!courtneywalberg_1393

  1. Avoid liquid calories – Consuming beverages that are high in calories and provide little nutrition is a recipe for disaster. High calorie coffee drinks, soda, sugary juice, energy drinks or flavored teas are just a few of the beverages that can add up to 400 calories very quickly, and increase risk of weight gain and type II Diabetes.

courtneywalberg_1354To learn more about clean eating, grocery store tours, nutrition facts label reading, or customized nutrition plans to suite your individual nutrient needs, contact Courtney Sullivan, Registered Dietitian (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), Certified Personal Trainer (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and Founder of Nutrition for Body and Mind.