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“Clean Eating” Is a Lot Simpler Than You Might Think

You may have heard a certain phrase getting tossed around lately — “eating clean” — and wondered what all the hubbub was about. Maybe you thought it was the latest fad diet or trend and who could blame you?, but really, clean eating is a bit more philosophy than diet.

The big idea behind eating clean is a simple one — worry less about stuff like calories and care a bit more about where your food comes from. You can kind of think of it as the quality over quantity approach to eating. And while I get that a phrase like that might mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, here are a few guidelines that most people agree on.

1. ) Cut out processed foods

This is probably the biggest one. “Clean eating” really pushes its adherents to stay away from processed foods and to focus more on fruits and veggies and whole grains. Now, the word ‘processed’ tends to get a bad rap, but there are some good reasons why foods are processed — such as getting rid of bacteria and for plain ‘ol practical reasons, like making sure food stays safe to eat for longer periods. But that doesn’t mean that you should conflate oatmeal in a box with, say, sugary cereal. You probably want to err on the side of the former more than the latter.

2.) Eat more whole grains and leafy stuff

I kind of already touched on this one above, but a “clean” diet definitely promotes a lot more greens and whole grains. No, that doesn’t mean you have to go vegan, but you might want to try switching to whole wheat and grabbing a nice helping of broccoli or brussel sprouts next time you’re cooking up a tasty meal. And for good reason, too. There’s a whole load of scientific evidence that shows that a more leafy diet with some whole grains mixed in staves off diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity.

3.) Try to stay away from sugar and salt

If you’re already kicking out processed foods, this is actually a lot easier than it might sound. You won’t find too many salts and sugars in greener, wholer, and unprocessed foods. And while okay in moderation, these two in particular can do a number on your health if left unchecked.

4.) Take it in stride

Okay, this one is a bit of a personal suggestion, but eating clean doesn’t have to be some life-changing event. If you’re anything like me (and most people), your odds of making a good change in your life is far more likely if do it a step at a time. Next time you’re in the grocery store, maybe avoid the aisles and spend a bit more time in the produce section. Or maybe spend a few more minutes reading the labels. Or decide to cook tonight instead of ordering out.

You might be surprised by where you are a few months from now.