Friday, February 17, 2012

Eat Clean, What Does That Mean?

by Kris Pitcher

I take for granted that when I talk about "eating clean" people know what I mean. I thought I should back up a few steps and make sure I'm not running out in front all by myself wondering why no one's next to me.

It's just I get so excited! I forget that this journey is kind of like peeling an onion. With each good habit, or bit of knowledge you learn you get a little closer...but there's always more to uncover. So, what exactly is eating clean? I think of it really as a set of values about nutrition.

I have always said that nutrition is a very values laden topic. We make choices about what we eat based on our values. Our values also determine our goals, which drive our behaviors...oh I'm getting all excited now!

Eating clean is about choosing fresh, unprocessed foods. It's about choosing whole foods. Quite simply it's choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats.

We want to choose the least processed items, with no additives, pesticides, or hormones. Fresh is good, frozen is better than canned. See? The greater the processing, the lesser the nutritional value. When choosing items with a label, we want fewer items, no chemicals or words  you can't pronounce.

Sugar is an additive we want to reduce when we are eating clean. Sugar increases our inflammation causing all kinds of problems. It creates a challenge to our pancreas causing surges in our insulin output. We've all ridden the sugar roller doesn't feel good. And there's a reason why.

Eating fat is important. And I'll take this opportunity to remind you that eating fat does not make you fat. Good fats include our omega 3/6/9s and we get them from nuts, fish, avocados and the like. Eating clean means reducing saturated fat.

Carbohydrates are important fuel sources. And like fat, eating carbs doesn't make you fat. Eating garbage makes you fat. When choosing carbs you want whole grains. There are a lot of great choices available. Try something different from pasta. In fact, get rid of pasta. Try wheat berries, millet, or quinoa.

Solid, whole food is preferred when eating clean. We don't want to be drinking our calories. Sodas are out. Choosing water or tea is in for clean eaters. Tea has many health benefits. Juices and sugary drinks are also out. Remember, we want the benefits of the fiber from the whole foods in our diet. We want to avoid drinking our calories.

When preparing foods we want to bake, broil, grill, or steam. We're not frying things when we're eating clean. We don't want to cook out nutrients or add extra fats during the cooking process.

Finally, our food timing is important to the clean eating lifestyle. One of the most important things we can do with our food is create a chemical environment for our body. Wow! Did you know you were doing that?!

By eating small meals every two to three hours we can control our blood sugar and increase our metabolism. Eat more, and more frequently to turn up your fat burning potential.

It's smart to eat clean. We feel better when we eat clean. It makes sense to decrease the chemicals and additives we are putting into our bodies. It makes sense to eat fresh, and buy local when you can. Eating clean takes comittment. And in my opinion, it's all about values.

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