Clean eating means avoiding processed foods and paying close attention to where your food comes from. It encourages eating lots of fruits and vegetables with supplemental proteins and carbohydrates. If you want to “eat clean” you should try to only eat foods that are in their original, unaltered state. Since clean eating isn’t really a diet and more of a lifestyle, there’s no one set way to do it. There are, however, some easy traps to fall into that you can easily avoid.
- Taking Guesses the more you know about your food, the better. Sometimes packaged food at the grocery store isn’t always what it seems. Knowing exactly where your food came from, how it was prepared, and what exactly is in it, helps you make healthier choices and stick to the clean eating philosophy. Don’t buy anything pre-packaged. If you’re buying meat, get it from a local butcher you trust. Ask questions, and don’t buy anything you’re uncertain of.
- Assuming Too Much at Farmer’s Markets Produce at farmer’s markets isn’t always grown locally. Sometimes sellers look to take advantage of people willing to pay more for locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables, and they bring in produce that has been shipped from far away. In some cases, they’re even grown on commercial farms where pesticides are used. If you shop at a local farmer’s market, get to know the sellers and learn where they grow their produce. Find sellers you trust and stick with them.
- Overeating Part of a clean eating lifestyle involves eating five or six small meals throughout the day, including breakfast. Because you’ll be eating many meals each day, it’s important not to overdo it. Eating portions that would be appropriate if you were only eating three meals each day would make you exceed your caloric requirement and gain weight. Figure out how much you should be eating each day total based on your age, gender, size, and weight, and plan your meals to meet that amount.
- Not Drinking Enough Water Staying hydrated is vital to your health, and should be a part of your conscious dietary decision-making. Drink two to three liters of water a day, depending on your size and level of activity. Drinking more water can also help you lose weight. If you have dry mouth, dark urine or even if you just feel thirsty, you may be dehydrated. A good rule is to always carry a water bottle with you so you’re never stuck without something to drink.
- Eliminating Important Nutrients many diets that fall under the umbrella of clean eating, such as the paleo diet, encourage you to give up entire food groups. If you pursue a diet that ignores groups of foods, know what nutrients you’ll be missing, and find ways to make up for them in your diet. For example, people who choose a vegan diet are often lacking in vitamin B12, which is important for red blood cell formation and neurological function. To remedy the deficiency, many vegans take a B12 supplement, or add other sources of B12, like bran cereal or tofu, into their diet. As with any diet, clean eating requires you to understand what your body needs and to make sure it’s getting it. A clean eating lifestyle has many health benefits as long as your dietary choices are conscious and well informed.