Clean Eating, Superfoods + Meal Plan!
As a Holistic Nutritionist, my goal has always been to help educate and inspire you to take control of your health and self heal. And of course, a big part of the healing process is changing and improving the types and quality of food you’re consuming.
When it comes to health, there isn’t a one size fits all diet protocol. Some people need to eliminate gluten and dairy and they feel amazing. Others thrive as a vegan. Some feel best on a paleo diet.
But there is one common thread in all protocols that is key for improving your health: quality!
When you “clean up” your diet and kick out the “unhealthy” foods, this is where the magic happens!
What is Cleans Eating?
I found the following definition of Clean Eating which I thought perfectly encompassed its true essence:
“Clean eating is a deceptively simple concept. Rather than revolving around the idea of ingesting more or less of specific things (for instance, fewer calories or more protein), the idea is more about being mindful of the food's pathway between its origin and your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or "real" foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.”
However, because modern food production has become so sophisticated that simply eating whole foods can be a challenging proposition these days.
This type of diet is more of a lifestyle and is something that you can slowly incorporate into your life to minimize the stress and feeling that comes along with being on a “diet”. And before you know it, you’ll be eating clean the majority of the time and your body will feel amazing!!
Eating clean 80-90% of the time is ideal. I know it’s impossible for most at 100% of the time with social gathering, dinners, and so forth, but if you put your efforts into eating clean as much as you can, your body with thank you and reward you accordingly! Think of it more that you strive to eat clean when you can, and when you can’t you know that you’re body can handle it.
Here are the Top 10 Basic Principles of Clean Eating:
1. Choose whole, natural foods
2. Seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods
3. Include some protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal
4. Eat More Vegetables
5. Watch out for sodium
6. Eliminate refined sugar
7. Avoid all trans fats
8. Don’t drink your calories
9. Cook your own meals
10. Get moving
One of the main principles of Clean Eating is to feed your body nutritious foods so that it receives all the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat) as well as the micronutrients (vitamin + minerals) that it needs to run optimally. When food is processed, it loses a lot of its nutritional values and although companies try to “re-enrich” your foods, it’s definitely not the same as eating the whole food.
Consuming foods in their natural state is at the root of a clean eating diet.
Now when it comes you’re your body and level of health, it’s happiest and runs at its optimal level when your diet is pH balanced. This means that when your body’s acid and alkaline balance is close to pH 7 all is in homeostasis or balance. This way your body is not constantly trying to rebalance itself with its micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and then depriving itself at the same time of those needed nutrients.
Now when you divide the main foods groups into being acidic or alkaline, it looks mostly like this:
Acidic: Animal Protein, Dairy, Grains, Sugar, and most legumes
Alkaline: Vegetables, Fruit
As you can see other on a general overview the majority of our everyday diets are more acidic. That being said, in order to keep the balance it’s important that we make sure that we are consuming a large volume of vegetables to keep the alkaline balance more neutral. Fruit is also very beneficial but because they are also a source of sugar they are to be consumed in smaller quantities.
Eating a more alkaline diet is more than just great for your waistline, it’s key for your body’s optimal functioning. Maintaining an alkaline balance is not only important for your entire body’s functioning, but it’s also extremely important in keeping your digestive system in balance. This is of course a pivotal component for your immune system.
PRO TIP: Disease is unable to grown in an alkaline environment so by keeping your immune system in tip top shape and your body alkaline, you’re going to be a lean mean fighting machine!!
What are superfoods and why are they important you might ask? Superfoods are a foods that are considered nutrient powerhouses that pack in large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. By having a diet rich in these superfoods helps to maintain a healthy body and reduce your risk of disease.
I want to go over a few of my favorites that you can include in your diet starting today!
Hemp seeds are considered to be a complete protein containing a full amino-acid spectrum. And we already know the importance of amino acids in our diet such as proper enzyme production, as well as for growth and maintenance of all our cells and tissues.
Hemp also has the ideal ratio of Omega 3 + 6 to create and anti-inflammatory response within the body. These are of course super important for brain and heart health. And of course they are very easily digestible.
Blend in your favorite smoothie, topped on your oats or salads, or any other place you would add any other seed.
Chia seeds are better known now for being wonderful sources of fiber and omega 3. They are also a great source of calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and more.
Here are some of the top reasons you should be incorporating chia seeds into your daily diet:
- Great for your digestive health
- Absorb 10-12x their weight in liquid when soaked
- The gel-like coating formed when it comes into contact with liquid helps to pull any gunk that might be stuck in your digestive tract out.
- Also a great pre-biotic for those healthy bacteria in your digestive tract!
- Blood sugar balancing and reduced cravings
- The high fiber content reduces the digestive process and most importantly the conversion of carbs to sugars helping to stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Great source of Omega 3 (60%) – the richest plant based source!
- Anti-inflammatory and reduces high cholesterol levels
- Brain food and mood booster
- Omega 3’s are known for helping brain function as well as improving moods and helping with depression
- Vegan source of protein
- 1oz serving as 4g of protein! 14% by weight
- Good balance of essential amino acids
- Great source of Tryptophan
- Body uses it to produce serotonin – the mood regulating hormone
- Helps produce Vitamin B3 – helps to increase HDL and Reduce LDL
- Regulates appetite and good sleep
- Excellent source of Calcium – 300mg per 1oz
- Great source of Antioxidants
Also known as Peruvian ginseng, Maca is a relative to the radish and has an odour similar to butterscotch. It’s high in heathy fatty acids, amino acids, phytonutrients, as well as iron, iodine, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, as well as Vitamin C and B vitamins.
It is also an adaptogen which means that it is a nutritive substance that raises the body's state of resistance to disease while remaining nontoxic to the recipient. Adaptogens increase immunity by improving the overall ability of the entire body to take on challenging and stressful situations.
It’s great added into smoothies or even soups.
It’s been known to be used for:
*Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
*Enhanced physical energy and endurance
*Mental clarity and concentration
*Supports glandular system
*And Hormone balancing and fertility
Spirulina is a blue-green algae found in salt water and some large fresh water lakes. It’s a great source of protein (65%), has a high Omega 3 content, and very high levels of bio-available iron. It’s also an excellent source of Chlorophyll, B Vitamins, and other vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, A and E and Potassium, chromium, Magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and more.
FUN FACT: Spirulina has 26x the calcium level than milk!
It’s also an amazing anti-oxidant with an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score of 24,000 which is 4x that of blueberries! It’s great for increasing energy, lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease, improving digestion and bowel health as well!
BONUS: It can also bind with heavy metals within the body to help your body eliminate them.
Adding it to your smoothie is the best way to take it but it also comes in a capsule form.
Dirty Dozen and Clean 15
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shopper's Guide™ to Pesticides in Produce helps people make the most important choices when it comes to buying organic. When should you? And when is it ok to skip out?
The EWG research has found that people who eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day from the Dirty Dozen list consume on average 10 types of pesticides a day. Those who eat from the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than 2 pesticides daily.
In trying to keep our bodies clean and healthy, avoiding pesticides is an important part.
In government tests analyzed by EWG detectable pesticide residues were found on 65 percent of food samples after they had been washed or peeled. We found striking differences between the number of pesticides and amount of residues detected on Dirty Dozen Plus™ and Clean Fifteen™ foods.
Here are the 2 lists:
Looking to clean up your diet? I put together for you a 1-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan for you to help give you inspiration and kickstart rolling into September on a healthy note! You can download it below: