Clean eating has become my ‘food philosophy’; it has totally changed my relationship with food.
Clean eating is not about dieting or counting calories, there is no guilt and no pressure. It’s all about enjoying real foods in their most simple form; vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. It’s a rainbow of colours and flavours on your plate every day! Needless to say that it provides great sources of vitamins, nutrients, healthy fats and proteins (yes, that too!). It’s a very healthy and happy way of eating; you don’t feed your body, you nourish it with the best that nature has to offer!
Clean eating bans all kinds of naughty refined foods such as white flour, refined sugar and oil. Last but not least, and it might not please the bacon-eaters, but it also limits the consumption of meat (chicken and fish included), eggs (Omega-3 or/and organic are fine though), and dairy products.
What are the benefits?
The first benefit of clean eating is obviously weight loss, but it’s not the most important one. Clean eating boots your level of energy thanks to a combination of protein, carbs, whole grains and healthy fats. You feel more on the ball, more energetic and more alert. If you’re a sportsperson, it also helps enhance your athletic performances and it boosts recovery. I swim, run or do Crossfit on a daily basis, I can assure you that adopting a clean diet has made a huge difference.
It also improves mental health because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and they have been proven to relieve depression and lift the mood. True story.
It reduces the risk of chronic conditions such as heart diseases, some forms of cancers, and diabetes. I’ve read articles of cancer patients who switched to a plant-based diet and have seen their condition improve considerably and life expectancy increase. (A plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you only eat fruit and vegetable; but we’ll come back to that).
Then, when you think about it, it’s also good for your teeth and gums since it eliminates the intake of sugary foods and beverages. No more overly sensitive gums when you rinse your mouth with cold water! And the skin!! That is what impresses me the most. I’ve always had a few spots here and there… they’re all gone, my skin is very smooth and glows naturally! I’m deadly serious!
Finally, and very dear to my heart, a healthy diet will help protect the environment! By eating clean, you tend to buy more locally grown, seasonal and simple foods; less transportation, processing, packaging, and refrigeration. Your carbon footprint lowers, and that’s also a very happy feeling!
How to get started?
Once you have decided to be healthier, no need to change anything just yet. You can simply start by adding new elements to your diet : a bit more fruit and vegetables, a handful of nuts and seeds here and there. You really need to ease into it. It’s like training for a marathon, you don’t go for a 10k right away, you start with small runs.
Then, you can make small changes into your daily diet, no need to pressure yourself or get overwhelmed by tons of new things to deal with. For example, swap your breakfast cereal for some eggs on a whole grain toast or for some porridge with some fruits and seeds. Have brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice, and a handful of almonds instead of crisps!
Then, once you are up for it, you might want to do a spring cleaning in your fridge and pantry. Remove everything that’s refined and/or processed: white sugar, that jar of Nutella, the already-prepared whatever it is, sweets, sunflower oil, white bread, you name it. You can always ask me if you’re not sure! When that’s done, go to your local market and organic store, and get the basics. See my clean grocery shopping list.
There are tons of healthy alternatives out there; find the ones that you like, get inspired, experiment and be creative – trust me, it always works and you’ll surprise yourself!
One last thing: “Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle”. Keep it in mind. You’ll find a huge number of articles on the electric interwebs and recipes in books, but don’t get overwhelmed! You’ll get there, step by step!
I believe it’s also crucial to understand the basics of how protein, carbs, sugars, and fats function. It has helped me realise how powerful food is. I have become a strong believer that food is by far the best medicine and can help people heal (both physically and mentally).
There are plenty of research, articles, documentaries that will give you great insight on the benefits of certain foods and how to combine them. A friend of mine got over the flu in a couple of days with only slow juices and clean food (I made him, but he enjoyed it he says!).
How to stick with it?
Once you have experimented and understood the benefits of a healthy and clean diet, your body will crave for fresh, healthy and simple foods. I’ve never felt so good in my body and never had so much energy. It creates such an addictive happy feeling that I could never ever go back to my old bad eating habits.
Don’t get me wrong, I still need to indulge myself with some dark chocolate, I love sushi, I drink wine, I can’t resist a piece of carrot cake or even on crisps if they’re nagging me. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not feasible to eat clean 100% of the time; you go to parties, to dinners, you socialise! If you ‘deviate’, it’s not that a big deal as long as it’s the exception rather than the rule.
So, have I convinced you? Just try it, embrace the new foods you’re going to eat and discover – you’ll surprise yourself! I promise you won’t starve.