What Does Eating Clean Mean?

My trainer John has a poster up in his gym ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’ it’s spot on. For a variety of (admittedly poor) excuses, my cardio training has not been up to scratch for a few weeks. It’s too hot, I’m too tired, work is busy, the book, the book … blah blah … fear not, I am totally on it this month!

Fortunately my diet is pretty much always super clean, which most definitely keeps me in shape and helps me ping back super fast! It ensures my skin stays healthy and makes it so much easier when I start training. It’s true, abs are made in the kitchen. Okay, there are possibly genetics and a few hundred stomach crunches involved! But unless you are particularly blessed, diet is absolutely key.

What does ‘eating clean’ actually mean?

The health and wellness community is such a lovely, supportive little collective, it can sometimes be difficult to remember what life was like before I became a part of it. You begin to assume that a clean diet is so common place these days that everybody understands the term. Then I think back to what life was like a few years ago, when I was just beginning this journey, and how overwhelming all these diets, nutrition plans and training regimes actually seemed.

The assumption that everybody automatically understands the premise of ‘clean eating’ was brought home to me this week. I was speaking to a guy about diet, he asked what I ate. I explained in brief and summarised things by saying; ‘basically I eat clean!’

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘that’s a good name for it!’

‘It’s not my name for it,’ I laughed, ‘it’s the name for it!’

Were it a phrase I had coined I’d be raking it in on usage royalties alone!

Let’s take it back to basics. Clean eating is not about being vegan, avoiding dairy or going gluten free. It’s primarily about eating good, wholesome food that will nourish your body and skin from the inside out. A good place to start is by downloading an acid / alkaline food chart online. In terms of optimum health I recommend an 80/20 balance in favour of alkaline foods. Alkaline foods are always ‘clean’.

Forget Counting Calories. Fat does not make you Fat!

Many of my friends and family are still fixated on counting calories, under the false impression that fat means you’re going to get fat and that foods low in fat must good for you. Forget it. A single avocado contains 260 calories and 25 grams of fat – that’s more than a McDonalds big mac! Which do you suppose would be better? Sure, based on calorie counting alone you can actually lose weight eating McDonalds happy meals three times a day. But do you think you would feel good for it? Would your body be getting the right combination of vitamins and nutrients? I’d put money on it that you’d actually feel undernourished, lethargic and generally pretty rotten. Eating clean is not about focusing on calorie and fat content, not all calories are created equal and fat does not make you fat! It’s actually much more beneficial to focus primarily on the list of ingredients. Take butter and margarine for example. Lots of people still subscribe to the old fashioned view that low fat marg has surely got to be better for you! Have you ever read the ingredients list? Trust me, if you eat dairy, opt for full fat butter every time.

Concentrate on the basics; Eat lots of vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and healthy grains such as quinoa and rice.

What Can I and Can’t I Eat?

Transitioning to a clean diet is about what works for you and that depends on a few things including; your ethics, personal taste, dietary restrictions and more. Essentially it’s about ditching pre-packaged, processed foods and moving towards healthy, fresh ingredients. It’s about taking the time and making the effort to create meals from scratch. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy cooking or you’re not entirely sure where to start, it’s about making that commitment to change and simply starting somewhere. Whether that’s juicing, blending fresh soups, throwing together a bright, vibrant salad. Honestly it’s very easy once you begin. Invest in a few good recipe books, there are lots on the market (see below). You may need to buy some of the ingredients at whole food shops or online. Or check out the ‘free from’ shelves in the bigger supermarkets for things like chia seeds and rice flour. It may all sound a little alien to begin with, but once you establish the basics, the rest will fall into place.

Give your Tastebuds a Chance

Your mind might be ready but your tastebuds will need a little time to adjust! If you’re used to packet ready meals, lots of sauces, tinned and frozen foods, your tastebuds will have become accustom to heavy flavourings, salt and sugar. It will take a little while for them to appreciate the taste of healthy fresh vegetables. Foods such as dark chocolate may initially taste incredibly bitter. As you continue the transition your tastebuds will catch up and it’s the good, healthy, nutritious stuff your body will begin to crave. Make sure you have lots of dried herbs and spices to hand to add flavour to your food. These are a much healthier alternative to artificial flavourings and sugar.

Clean out the Cupboard

Take a look at what’s in your fridge and store cupboard. How many ingredients do those foods have in them? Have you ever taken the time to stop and read the list? Packet foods, ready meals, sauces and soups are generally stuffed with preservatives, additives, flavourings, salt and sugar. Some of which I can’t even pronounce! That’s not REAL food. That’s something put together in a factory – purporting to be food! I am very definitely not a fan of food waste or throwing things away, but if you’re ready to make the change to a clean diet, put the junk where it belongs – in the bin!

Sugar

There’s no doubt about it, more and more research every day is pointing the finger at sugar as a key contributor to the worlds obesity crisis. This stuff is bad. Seriously bad. Not only is it bad, it’s addictive. Food manufacturers are growing wise to our worries and have started hiding sugar in their list of ingredients under more than sixty different titles. Corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, maltose etc etc, they all add up to the same thing and it isn’t good. Ingredients on food are listed in order of content, so some manufacturers are beginning to use two or three different types of sugar, splitting the volume and enabling them to place each lower down the list. Avoid anything with added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Make your own cakes and biscuits and use honey, maple syrup or dates to sweeten them instead. If you really struggle with a sweet tooth, a little dried fruit, dark chocolate or ripe banana should take the edge of your cravings. If you have bags of sugar in the cupboard, rather than throw them away, add fresh lime juice and ground ginger to create an invigorating body scrub. Much better on your body than in it!

What about Meat?

I’m not really a fan of pigeon holing. If you want to put some labels on it, I personally follow a predominantly sugar free, plant-focused, semi-vegan, paleo-based diet! It works for me. I have been vegetarian for over twenty years. I believe that eating a plant rich diet full of colour and healthy, live greens radiates life. Vegetables graciously drop to the earth when they’re ripe. Conversely, the horrific treatment of animals bred for human consumption denotes negativity, fear, anxiety and aggression. Meat is no longer the occasional wild beast caught by our hunter gatherer ancestors. These days it’s become a highly consumed staple of the Western diet. Over 53 billion land animals are farmed and killed every year by humans, many loaded with chemicals, antibiotics and disease. This figure does not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are measured in tonnes. Global fish stocks are depleting at alarming rates, our oceans are in big trouble. 90% of the big fish are gone. Tuna, swordfish, halibut, cod, and flounder populations have been devastated by overfishing. We’re at a tipping point, oceanographers suggest our actions over the next 10 years will determine the state of the ocean for the next 10,000 years. That’s my ethos for not eating meat, it comes predominantly down to ethics and the feeling of energy and contented wellbeing I get from not being a part of the slaughter of sentient beings.

I get all the protein I need from natural plant sources. Eating a healthy combination of fresh vegetables, beans, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds plus some healthy carbs in the form of sweet potato and grains such as quinoa and rice provide me with all I need to stay fit and well. Far from feeling as though my diet is missing something, I believe I am feeding my body and soul with everything it wants and needs. Avoiding meat has nothing to do with ‘clean eating’. Lots of people following a clean diet include meat. Take paleo for example. This is very much a personal choice. Bear in mind though that meat – especially red meat – and tinned fish and sea food are highly acidic. If you choose to include them in your diet, be sure to balance them with lots of fresh, alkaline greens (see chart below).

Where to Begin?

  • Download and acid / alkaline food charts. Alkaline foods are always ‘clean’ aim for an 80/20 balance

http://www.energiseforlife.com/acid-alkaline-food-chart-1.1.pdf

  • Invest in some new recipe books by Joe Wicks, Deliciously Ella, The Hemsley Sisters, Jason Vale, Lucy Bee and many more awesome clean eating advocates

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Eating-Well-Jasmine-Hemsley/dp/0091958326/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1475405660&sr=8-2&keywords=hemsley

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deliciously-Ella-Every-Day-fantastic/dp/1473619483/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1475405691&sr=8-2&keywords=deliciously+ella

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lean-15-minute-workouts-strong/dp/1509800697/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475405706&sr=8-1&keywords=joe+wicks

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Super-Fast-Food-Chef-Required/dp/0954766474/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1475405732&sr=8-4&keywords=jason+vale

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coconut-Oil-Natures-Perfect-Ingredient/dp/1849496757/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1475406042&sr=8-3&keywords=lucy+bee+book

  • Read labels. Fresh veg and fruit doesn’t need a label – it is what it is! If you do buy foods with labels, read them! Check for hidden nasties such as sugar, preservatives, flavourings and ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  • Ditch fizzy drinks. These are the worst of the worst – especially the ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ ones. Replace them with still or sparkling water, freshly pressed juices (not the shop bought cartons) and herbal teas
  • Begin juicing. The best way to start your day with a ton of fresh, alkaline greens. Juicing is the perfect way to begin the morning with a ton of vitamins and nutrients.
  • Experiment and don’t be afraid! Try out some new recipes, use ingredients you haven’t tried before. The journey is meant to be fun not restrictive.
  • Ask questions. The health and wellness community are a lovely bunch. We’re all here to help. No question is considered pointless or dumb! Tweet, email and ask away 🙂

7 thoughts on “What Does Eating Clean Mean?

  1. thejuicenut says:

    Well thank you! Going to be very lazy and reblog – I don’t have to write the post now lol! I do worry that many young people misunderstand the concept of clean eating and use it as a means to lose weight fast rather than for good health. I’m a little ambivalent about the term and don’t really like using it as it’s been hijacked and many young people hoodwinked. Great article, good to see you back at it 😊💕

    Like

  2. thejuicenut says:

    Reblogged this on pearsnotparsnipsdotcom and commented:
    The lovely Hanna (who cleared herself of psoriasis with a healthy plant-based diet and exercise) has written a great article explaining the concept of eating clean, both what it means and what it doesn’t mean. It does mean eating whole, natural, unprocessed meals made from scratch, it doesn’t mean you have to go vegan and get very skinny very fast! Thanks Hanna!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. margaret21 says:

    I liked this post a lot as it was so joyful and positive. I have friends who eat ‘clean’ and honestly they’re a pain. It’s all so ‘thou shalt not’. I think I’m pretty naturally inclined to eat ‘clean’ and it’s good to read a post from someone who celebrates it, rather than tackles it puritanically. Thank you.

    Like

  4. Will says:

    Hi Hanna,

    My name is Will and I have just started following you on instagram a few weeks back.

    I love your posts and I’ve recently signed up to your newsletter, which I got today, it was a great honest read.

    I try to eat healthy too but I find with some of my peers that if you eat different from the norm, there must be something wrong with you, I do find this disheartened but I’ll preserve.

    I like you use Wyldsson products, I’ve seen you made some lovely meals, with them, where can I get the recipes for these please as I like to try new foods to keep meal times interesting.

    Thanking you in advance,
    Kind regards,

    Will

    Like

    • Hello I'm Hanna says:

      Bless you Will – that’s such a lovely message to receive 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to write.

      I know exactly how you’re feeling regarding your peers. I made some pretty dramatic lifestyle changes three years ago, one of the biggest was giving up alcohol! I used to go out drinking lots so this was a change my friends were not used to. Now its become absolutely normal. I find that once your friends see how much good your new diet is doing for you, they become inspired to change too. Some a little, some a lot. The point is, have faith and conviction that what you are doing is right for YOU. It’s your body and it deserves the best you can give it. Don’t be disheartened. Be strong and lead by example. If they ask questions tell them confidently that you’re really committed to staying fit and healthy. Sometimes it’s envy or jealousy that can result in them passing judgement. Keep doing what you’re doing and you can always turn to Instagram, Twitter, blog posts or the huge community of clean eaters online for gentle guidance and moral support.

      My latest recipes for Wyldsson will be made into little recipe cards which they will send out with their products. We’re also talking about a book together and various other projects – watch this space. Once I’ve written these recipes up I’ll post them here for you so you’ll get an email with the info. I love their products too and these new recipes I’ve created are super easy and tasty!!

      My own book is due out in January with over 100 recipes. It will be available on Amazon and all the big book stores. I’m sure you will see all the info soon on my Insta.

      Thanks so much for your message Will and rest assured your body loves you for the healthy nutrition you’re feeding it. x

      Like

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