What is Clean Eating? A Beginner’s Guide to a Healthier Lifestyle

Learn what it means to eat clean and how you can incorporate more whole, minimally processed foods into your diet for a healthier lifestyle. This comprehensive guide offers practical tips and tricks for making the switch to clean eating.

Clean eating is a buzzword that has gained a lot of attention in recent years. But what exactly does it mean? Simply put, clean eating is about consuming whole, minimally processed foods in their most natural state. The goal is to eat foods that are as close to their original form as possible, without the addition of artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

But why is clean eating important? Consuming a diet high in processed foods has been linked to a host of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. By focusing on whole, nutritious foods, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

So, how can you incorporate more whole foods into your diet? Here are some practical tips:

Start with the basics

One of the easiest ways to start eating clean is to focus on whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These foods provide essential nutrients and are free from added sugars and unhealthy fats.

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store

Most grocery stores are arranged so that the fresh, whole foods are located around the perimeter of the store. By shopping this area first, you'll be able to fill your cart with healthy options before you even make it to the processed food aisles.

Read labels carefully

If you do purchase packaged foods, make sure to read the labels carefully. Look for products with short ingredient lists and avoid those that contain added sugars, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

Cook at home

Cooking at home allows you to have complete control over the ingredients in your meals. By preparing meals from scratch, you can ensure that they are made with whole, nutritious ingredients.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead is key to eating clean. Take the time to plan your meals and snacks for the week, and make a grocery list before you head to the store. This will help you stay on track and avoid the temptation to grab unhealthy convenience foods.

To put a bow on it, eating clean is about focusing on whole, minimally processed foods that provide essential nutrients without adding artificial ingredients. By incorporating more of these foods into your diet and making a few simple changes to your shopping and cooking habits, you can improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. So why not give clean eating a try? Your body will thank you for it.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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