You can’t have escaped the media without reading or seeing the hype over the healthy eating term known as “clean eating”.  This title has grown in popularity with the rise in focus on eating more healthily and understanding our food sources most publicised by the likes of food bloggers turned celebrities such as Deliciously Ella and the Hemsley Sisters.

My approach to nutrition has always been to cut through any hype, and to look at the facts.  I therefore have learnt how our understanding of nutrition has changed over the years through research, and is ever evolving, as we gain more knowledge on how the effects of what we do in our lives impacts our bodies.

These days we are far too inclined to try and give everything a label, often adopting too rigid a way of being, and therefore not allowing ourselves to be more in tune with what messages our bodies may be giving us as individuals. Like most things in life there is not “one size fits all”, and our nutritional needs will differ often from the next person, and at different stages of our life too.

So, what is clean eating? 

Surprisingly, it conjures up an image that certain foods are therefore dirty, and from a psychological point of view, this has caused the industry to frown upon the message it’s giving.  In reality, the intent behind clean eating is decidedly simple, encouraging focus on eating “real” foods, which are unprocessed or very minimally processed.  There has equally been lots of bad press about restricting certain food groups to eat clean, such as gluten, dairy, refined sugars and minimising animal products.  Again, the intent behind this message is encouraging overall healthier choices, as for many these foods can aggravate often undiagnosed health issues such as leaky gut syndrome, candida overgrowth etc. Often our bodies are giving us signals by developing symptoms such as skin complaints, digestive issues or pain & inflammation and these can suggest the body is not balanced, and that we should think more about what we are eating and what effect it may be having.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe in labels, more that we should all become more mindful of our own bodies, and think about how different foods make us feel, eat foods that are nutritionally rich, give us sustained energy and are respectful of ourselves.

The focus should therefore be a relaxed transition to a different lifestyle rather than a short-term diet, and should focus on:-

  • Eating in a healthy, natural way which is nutritionally good for you
  • Help enable your body to detoxify and naturally increase your metabolism
  • Food that is kinder to your digestive system
  • Healthy snacks that give you natural energy
  • Vitamin & Mineral rich foods

This will combine to energise the body from the inside out, giving it everything that it needs and less of the unwanted junk and in the medium to long term it may help protect you against ill health.

By removing toxicity from processed foods, gluten and refined sugars, and minimising animal products your digestive system will work a lot more efficiently, and therefore may help you manage your weight effectively too.

A simple healthy approach is to look at gradual changes to how you eat, and think more mindfully of your choices, what’s in your food and where it has come from.

Eat less of:-

  • Refined sugar
  • Processed foods including processed meats
  • Additives & chemical preservatives including artificial sweeteners
  • Sugary or diet drinks
  • Bad fats including chemically changed fats i.e. margarine, low fat spreads
  • Gluten
  • Dairy

Eat more of:-

  • Wholegrains such as brown rice, rice noodles, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, brown rice pasta, oats
  • Beans, lentils, nuts & seeds
  • Vegetables & Fruit
  • Lean organic meat, i.e. organic free range chicken, lean grass fed beef, organic turkey
  • Organic unfarmed fish especially salmon for good omega fats
  • Organic free range eggs
  • Healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds etc.
  • Swap more meals to plant based sources of protein i.e. chickpeas, lentils, beans etc.

Don’t focus on counting calories, instead measure your food in nutritious value and freshness.

Amanda Forster-Searle

Mental Health & Wellness Mentor

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