Clean eating is all about choosing foods in their most natural form possible, opting for unrefined grains, choosing healthy proteins and fats, and avoiding overly processed foods and added sugars. It also encompasses being more informed about the food-to-table journey of the food you’re eating – how it was farmed, sourced, manufactured etc. If you’re following a well-balanced and varied diet, clean eating probably sounds very similar to the diet your following anyway, but if your diet is high in processed foods, it may seem tricky to make a switch so try these tips:
- Ease into this way of eating over a few weeks. For example, instead of boiling your veggies, choose to steam them until tender but still crisp and give yourself a chance to get used to the new textures before adding another step.
- Choose to make your own meals at home instead of ordering take out as this gives you full control of what is going onto your plate. This way if you’re using tomatoes to create a tomato-based sauce, you know you’re getting all the goodness of whole tomatoes without any additives or preservatives.
- If you’re a fan of sweetened yoghurts, make the switch to plain yoghurt and add some fruit for sweetness. This way you get the sweet taste without the added sugars.
Simply put, this way of eating means making informed decisions about what to eat and then following up with the action of choosing good quality foods that you enjoy. For some, that may mean eating raw foods instead of cooked foods, or eating only ethically produced and sourced foods, and for others it may mean eating meat from free-range or grass fed animals only or choosing to buy organic foods where possible and cooking all meals from scratch. At the end of the day, the choice is yours!
Inflammation fighting foods:
What we eat plays a large role in our wellbeing and there is ongoing interest in how certain foods can help to ease inflammation. Inflammation is often associated with digestive disorders and a diet which limits the intake of highly processed foods and includes a variety of healthier foods may help to reduce associated symptoms (clean eating ties in well here with its focus on minimally-processed foods).
Try these foods for a natural anti-inflammatory boost:
- Turmeric – long a firm favourite in food preparation across the world, this spice is being explored because of its active ingredient, curcumin, which reportedly has anti-inflammatory properties. Take a look here at how you can add it to your meals.
- Pineapple – research is looking at how this fresh, tasty, tropical fruit could help to reduce inflammation.
- Purple-coloured fruits – a type of flavonoid in purple-coloured fruits has been suggested to have anti-inflammatory properties. People suffering from gout, for example, seem to have less pain when eating cherries or other purple berries.
- Nuts – certain nuts such as almonds and walnuts are also of interest for having a positive effect on reducing inflammation.
While meat is the best-known source of protein, plants are also a wonderful alternative and can be enjoyed by meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. Nuts, nut butters, soy milk and legumes are all sources of protein which can be enjoyed on a daily basis – add lentils to stews or bolognaise sauce, mix beans into salads or stir fries, or use home-made hummus as a spread on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.
The new kids on the plant protein block are pea protein and hemp protein which you’ll find in powder form in various supermarkets or health shops. They’re an excellent addition to smoothies to up the protein content without having to rely on dairy. The KAUAI Nature’s Protein smoothie contains vegan protein, hemp seeds, spirulina blend, banana, pineapple, coconut milk, coconut-infused water and agave, making it a great plant protein smoothie when you’re on the go.
While it can be quite a mind shift to move away from your much-loved steak, it’s worth giving plant proteins a go so if you haven’t yet tried Meat Free Mondays, now’s the time to introduce it into your week; it’s an achievable target, even if just for one of the meals you eat on a Monday, and gives you a chance to get used to the change in protein source slowly. A simple way to introduce children to new plant proteins in their diet is to mix pea protein into a banana smoothie because the taste and texture isn’t hugely affected, or to offer a macadamia nut butter as an alternative to peanut butter.
Reducing added sugar intake
There’s a lot of focus on added sugars at the moment, and with good reason. These added sugars that you need to be on the lookout for are in fizzy drinks, sweets, concentrates etc. and come in many guises, one example being high fructose corn syrup (HFCS on many labels). A high sugar intake is linked to obesity and many diseases such as diabetes.
Where does that leave sugars that naturally occurs in some foods, like fruit? Getting a little natural sugar from nutrient-dense food (like adding grated carrot and sliced red peppers to your meal with their natural sweet taste as well as beta-carotene and fibre, for example), is much better than getting a whole lot of calories from high-sugar, nutrient-deficient foods. If you’re already choosing fruit juices instead of fizzy drinks, you can go a step further and opt for whole food fruit blending, which keeps the flesh of the fruit and so ups your fibre intake which in turn helps to slow the absorption of sugar into your body. Try the KAUAI Wholefood Orange smoothie or the Wholefood Green Smoothie.
With a big beady eye on added sugar in the foods we consume, 2016 saw the arrival of a proposed taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages and public hearings for this will be conducted this year.
Healthy menus for children
Gone are the days of fish fingers and fries being the only option on children’s menus in restaurants. With parents making more effort to teach their children from a young age about healthy eating and by setting this example at home, the restaurant industry has woken up to the fact that they need to cater to their young customers with more nutritious meals, better portion sizes and the same options that adults are given to switch ingredients to cater for allergies and intolerances.