Many people make resolutions each New Year to improve their diet and “clean up their lifestyle. Many feel that a good way to do that is to take part in a popular culinary movement called “clean eating”. This way of living emphasizes natural, whole foods and regular physical activity. The basics of this diet include eating whole vegetables and fruits; lean meat, poultry and fish; beans and legumes; dairy products that are low in fat; and whole grains from a variety of food sources. The Clean Eating plan provides meals that are high in fiber and protein and low in sugar, calories, fat, and sodium. And, while the Clean Eating plan may be a way to rid one’s diet of a lot of harsh chemicals and improve one’s antioxidant intake, because the diet is somewhat restrictive, much research, planning, and preparation much take place before one begins the diet. I would recommend meeting with a registered dietitian (RD)before starting this diet. She can assist you to ensure you are obtaining the right nutrients in the right proportions.

As a general rule, clean eaters try to eliminate all processed meals, desserts, and side dishes along with convenience, boxed, and canned foods. The diet eliminates things like high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and sweeteners, margarines, trans fats, and food additives (excess salt and sugar). Low fat dairy products are chosen because many fat free products often contain processed fillers that don’t fit in with the diet. Clean eaters choose brown rice and whole wheat flour over refined white choices and fried food is not to be consumed while following this plan.

As a general rule, clean eaters eat approximately 5 to 6 meals a day. This can help improve one’s energy levels, increase metabolism, and help people feel fuller longer. But, as before mentioned, much effort will need to occur if one is going to follow this diet to the fullest. An RD will emphasize the importance of menu planning and preparing batch cooking and then freezing to have meals available ahead of time. She will offer tips on having foods available to bring to gatherings and to pack in a child’s lunch if needed. Finally, given that this diet is low in sugar and salt, many people will have to let their taste buds adjust over time. They will have to allow time to “retrain” their taste buds to notice the natural flavors of the healthy foods they are eating.

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