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Is clean eating a diet? Is it a lifestyle? Is it for you? Good questions! It’s possible that you might already be eating “clean” and not realize it.

Clean eating means you opt for foods that are minimally processed. Adopting a clean eating habit might or might not alter your weight. But, it can reduce the amount of chemicals, hormones and added sugars you consume. It can also decrease the amount of time you spend cooking since many foods in their most simple state are easily consumed raw. Meantime, it can maximize the amount of nutrients you take in.

Here’s the 411 on Clean Eating

“Clean eating” would infer that there is such a thing as “dirty eating.” However, looking at foods as either good or bad can be a slippery slope that can lead to disordered eating, deprivation and other issues that might not “do a body good.” So, if you’re thinking about “clean eating,” keep in mind that food is sustenance. If food choices aren’t the cleanest of the “clean” that’s OK – just EAT!

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Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and unrefined foods are good examples of unprocessed foods. In addition, foods that are hormone free, organic, locally sourced and non-GMO choices are less manipulated and therefore “cleaner” than other varieties. Processing includes mashing, steaming, microwaving, boiling and anything that changes the natural state of the food. So, raw foods often hit the mark.

clean eating

A focus on clean eating can help you see more possibilities when you are shopping for kitchen staples and snacks. Having apples you can wash and munch when you feel like noshing takes a lot less time and money than buying and preparing a toaster strudel. Popping a date in your mouth instead of a piece of candy can quiet the most vocal of sweet tooths.

In addition to saved time and banked money, a big upside to making small changes when it comes to clean eating is that most people find when they adopt a clean eating tendency they end up consuming more vitamins, minerals and nutrients and less chemicals and hormones. This can translate to boosted immunity, increased energy levels, decreased inflammation, steadier blood sugar levels and more.

Check out Eating Well for a starter list of clean eating foods. You can quickly size-up how the choices you commonly make compare to the list and discover how you might ditch some processed, pre-packaged and refined favorites for more nutrient-rich, fresher foods.

For example, try swapping out:

– Flavored yogurt for plain yogurt with fresh fruit
– Freshly popped popcorn for packaged chips
– Water with a squeeze of fresh fruit juice for processed beverages
– Simple dressings (like lemon juice with olive oil or vinegars) for prepared salad dressings

Remember eating clean doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing venture! When faced with a choice, pick the least processed food more often than not. Small changes can make a big difference!