“Every time you eat or drink you are either feeding disease, or fighting it.” Heather Morgan
Many people don’t make the connection between the food they eat and their health. In reality, the food we eat affects everything from our energy levels, amount of inflammation in our bodies, whether or not we will develop a disease, and is directly related to our health at a cellular level. Many of the “foods” available today are highly processed with undesirable ingredients like added sugars and chemical preservatives. We have also discovered that the act of highly processing food removes much of the nutritional value that was once present, causing us to overeat because our bodies are searching for nourishment, and when our bodies are under nourished, we open the door to a host of illnesses.
The importance of proper nutrition has caused many people to adopt principles associated with “clean eating.” Clean eating has become a buzz-word amongst the health conscious as a lifestyle choice where an individual chooses to eat healthy, whole, unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. It’s basically “going back to the basics”, and becoming reacquainted with the food on our plates.
One of our favorite authors who outlines the importance of clean eating in his New York Times Bestseller, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”, is Michael Pollan. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” is Pollan’s short answer on a subject that has become unnecessarily confusing regarding the proper foods to achieve maximum health. In his aforementioned book, Pollan outlines 83 simple food rules to help guide you on your path to clean eating. Here are our Top Ten Favorite Food Rules:
1). Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
There are thousands of food-like substances in our grocery stores that our ancestors wouldn’t recognize as actual food. If it has been processed to the point that it’s unrecognizable, don’t eat it.
2). Eat Foods Made from Ingredients That You Can Picture in Their Raw State or Growing in Nature
Exthoxylated diglycerides, methyclyclopropene, aspartame, astaxanthin, sodium benzoate, butylated hydroxyanisole…if they are created in a lab, it will take a lab to digest them.
3). Avoid products that make health claims
Margarine was one of the first industrialized foods to claim it was more healthful than butter, and it turned out to contain trans fats that have been shown to be a major contributor of heart disease. Real, healthy and whole food doesn’t come with a schtick.
4). Shop the Peripheries of the Supermarket and Stay Out of the Middle
Most supermarkets are laid out the same way. Fresh foods such as produce, meat, and fish line the perimeter, while processed food products are located in the center of the store. When you stick to the edges, you will end up with more real food in your cart.
5). Eat Only Foods That Will Eventually Rot
As Pollan says in his book, “The more processed a food is, the longer its shelf-life and the less nutritious it typically is. Real food is alive-and therefore it should eventually die.”
6). It’s Not Food if it Arrived Through the Window of Your Car
The fast food industry does a great job of selling us “food” that makes us fat and sick. This food is generally, high in fat, sodium, loaded with sugar, and made up of animal products sourced from factory farms. Be conscious about where your food comes from because when it comes to food, “fast and cheap” is not as great as it seems.
7). Treat Meat as a Flavoring or Special Occasion Food
This goes back to Pollan’s phrase “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The vegetables should be the star of the dish and the meat should be the garnish. “Instead of an eight-ounce steak and a four-ounce portion of vegetables, serve four ounces of beef, and eight ounces of veggies.”
8). Don’t Get Your Fuel from the Same Place Your Car Does
American gas stations make the majority of their profits through “food” and cigarette sales over selling gasoline. Whether it’s a bag of chips, or a hot dog that’s been sitting out on the warmer for God knows how long, you’re better off either hitting the salad bar at your local grocery store, or staying hungry for just a bit longer. Trust us, you won’t starve to death.
9). Don’t Eat Breakfast Cereals That Change the Color of the Milk
Each year, an estimated 15 million pounds of synthetic dyes are added to the U.S. food supply. Artificial food dyes are chemical additives that have been linked to various types of cancers, neurological disorders, and genotoxicity-leading to mutations or damaging chromosomes. The FDA has banned certain food dyes, however, many still remain on the market that are known to be dangerous.
10). When You Eat Real Food, You Don’t Need Rules
It’s pretty simple, really. Eating is not complicated when you stick to the basics. You will find that when you eat real food, you feel better and you are able to manage your weight more effectively. This also aligns with the rule “Cook.” (You didn’t really think we could pick just 10, did you?) When you prepare your food, you foster a connection with your food. Our digestive process begins upon first seeing the food, and when you take the time to prepare your food, you become more mindful of how and what you eat.
Wondering what a day of clean eating looks like? Check out the following sample menu
M E N U
B R E A K F A S T
Combine in a blender:
1 cup unsweetened goat’s milk, unsweetened nut milk or fresh coconut water
1 TBSP ground flax
large handful raw spinach
1 cup frozen berries of choice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
S N A C K
½ green apple
10 almonds or walnuts
Spinach Salad with Tarragon Mustard Vinaigrette
4 cups spinach, baby kale, or any other favorite, hearty and leafy green
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
½ large avocado, diced
2 TBSP pumpkin seeds
Tarragon Mustard Vinaigrette
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 TBSP dried tarragon
1 lemon, juiced ¼ tsp sea salt
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar ¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, pressed
Add all dressing ingredients to a glass jar, saving the olive oil for last. Whisk ingredients together while slowly pouring in oil to emulsify. Dressing can be stored in refrigerator for up to one week. *You can also add a clean protein to the salad. Wild caught salmon or organic pasture raised chicken are great options.
S N A C K
2 TBSP hummus with raw vegetables.
D I N N E R
Spring Berry Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette
2 cups baby spinach ½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup purple cabbage, chopped ¼ cup chopped green onion
½ cup chopped red pepper
Add all ingredients to a large bowl, and toss with vinaigrette. Top with 4 oz of grilled wild caught salmon or pasture raised organic chicken.
½ cup blueberries 1 small clove pressed garlic
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar sea salt to taste
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a blender and combine.
D E S S E R T
Carrot Cake Bites
Makes 15-TBSP sized bites
2 large carrots, peeled and grated ¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup raw pecans ½ tsp sea salt
½ cup raw walnuts ½ tsp vanilla extract
5 medjool dates, pitted small squeeze fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tsp cinnamon ½ tsp unsweetened shredded coconut
½ tsp ginger
Place the pecans, walnuts, spices, sea salt, and lemon in a food processor and process until well ground, careful not to turn the mixture into nut butter. Add the dates, one at a time, and process until combined. Add the carrots continue processing until a dough is formed.
Place the shredded coconut in a bowl, form the carrot mixture into balls and roll in the coconut. Place the bites on a parchment lined cookie sheet and put in the refrigerator to set. Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator.
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Looking for guidance and support to help you make these lifestyle changes a reality? We partner with Health & Nutrition Coaches nationwide through our BH Affiliate Network.