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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • November 2018
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What if losing weight could be in your control? The basics of clean eating

What if losing weight, healthy digestion, having more energy, lifting your brain fog and managing chronic health conditions was in your control? Well, it is!

It’s about changing your eating habits! Choosing nutrient dense foods, greatly reducing the sugar and processed foods, adding healthy fats and eating meals with all the macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates).

Most of us in the U.S. have been following the recommended standard American diet (SAD) for the past 30 years or more by eating low-fat, whole grains and avoiding cholesterol. And food manufacturers have made it so easy for us! We have convenience food on every corner and most of them we don’t even need to get out of our cars to pick up. How can this diet be healthy for us when our numbers of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and other chronic health conditions are on the rise? Because we stopped eating “real” whole nutrient dense foods.

Our American diet consists mainly of processed and refined foods that are stripped of minerals and nutrients in the manufacturing process. Yes, often those are added back in, but mostly in the form of synthetic, chemical compounds that our body doesn’t recognize or know how to deal with, causing some major nutrient deficiencies.

We have plenty of food available to us, but we have become undernourished despite the fact that we’re overfed. “Clean eating,” “real food,” “nutrient dense” or whatever term you give it, means avoiding processed and refined foods, and sourcing your diet from nutrient-dense whole foods. Eating a whole foods diet gives you proper nutrition through real nutrients that your body recognizes as food — the raw materials, the fuel — it needs to run efficiently and at peak performance.

The basics of clean eating

1. Avoid processed food. Processed foods are any food with a label. Become a label reader and look at the ingredients. If you can’t recognize or pronounce any ingredient, don’t put it in your cart. If you must eat processed foods, try to eat foods with no more than 3-5 recognizable ingredients on the label.

2. Eat whole foods. Whole foods are foods that are natural and have not been tampered with through manufacturing or processing. When you eat clean, you eat foods from the farm. The bulk of your meals should be fresh vegetables along with grass-fed, free-range meats and eggs or wild caught seafood, organic whole milk dairy, along with raw nuts, seeds and fruit for snacks.

3. Eliminate refined sugar. Research is showing sugar, not saturated fat, to be the culprit behind many of our current health issues, so decreasing your intake of sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) and sweet foods will benefit your overall health. Refined sugar offers no nutritional value and is actually quite addicting. Use natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and limited fruit. Try coconut palm sugar, which, with a much lower glycemic index than refined sugar, also contains amino acids, B vitamins and trace minerals.

4. Choose sea salt over table salt. Table salt is a refined product that is mined from the earth and then stripped of its nutrient value through chemical processing. Sea salt, on the other hand, is obtained directly from the evaporation of seawater. It is not usually processed and therefore retains trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients.

5. Eat healthy fats. Using the right healthy saturated and unsaturated fats and oils is essential to good health — in fact, it’s essential to the structure of every cell in your body and especially your brain health. This is the hardest change for most people to grasp after years of being misled that fat will clog your arteries and cause heart disease! Hydrogenated oils, trans fats and “butter” spreads, along with processed vegetable oils should be avoided as they are pro-inflammatory and can cause arterial damage. More importantly, eating healthy fats makes food taste great and keeps you satiated longer!

6. Combine carbs with protein and fat. When you snack or eat a meal, make sure your meal is balanced. It’s important to combine carbohydrates with protein and fat. By consuming all three macronutrients at a meal, you will maintain even blood sugar (by slowing the digestion of carbs), be satiated longer and fuel your muscles. Enjoy apple slices with cheddar cheese, hummus with carrot sticks, almond butter and raisins on celery sticks, or eat green olives stuffed with almonds, and liberally add butter to your steamed broccoli or baked potato.

7. Enjoy your food. Whether you are eating by yourself or have dinner companions, take time to sit down and enjoy your food without distractions. Focus on the smells and the flavors as you thoroughly chew each bite. Enjoy the clean food that is nourishing your body and your being. This alone can improve your digestion and will give your stomach a chance to signal your brain as you start to become full.

Your rewards for clean eating

Clean eating can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but by taking baby steps you can make small changes every few days. If you make mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. You’re only human. Just start fresh with your next meal or snack.

  • A deliciously satisfying diet
  • Regulated blood sugar
  • More energy and mental clarity
  • Less muscle aches and joint pain
  • Weight loss
  • Better digestion 
Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson, Nutrition Therapy Consultant and Certified Personal Trainer, is the owner of Foundational Nutrition in Appleton. She offers either local or remote consults. For more information, call 920-257-9964, email [email protected] or visit www.foundational-nutrition.com.

Website: foundational-nutrition.com
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