You have never heard of clean eating? Now is the time to pay attention to this healthy and conscious diet. This will benefit both your body and the environment.
Generally, clean eating is when eating fresh, organic, nutritious, and thoroughly prepared foods. You eliminate all refined and processed foods from the plate and drink at least two liters of water per day. In short, it’s about eating what is considered “proper” food that comes closest to nature. So it’s not just a diet, it’s an attitude towards food. In this article you will find out everything you need to know about clean eating.
It’s all about knowing what you are eating
Clean eating isn’t that difficult when you learn a few basics. It’s all about knowing what you are eating and where your food comes from. Pay more attention to where your food comes from and make smarter choices when shopping by preferring food from your region and embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins and fats. Consume less refined grains, pesticides, additives, preservatives, unhealthy fats and high levels of sugar and salt.
Processed foods usually contain different preservatives, additives, and artificial ingredients. Using preservatives might be a good thing for food manufacturers, because this way products can be made, shipped and stored until purchase without going bad. This way they can sell more, but these chemical compounds can have unwanted side effects in your body. Many of these ingredients are fat-soluble and, instead of using them for energy or cell repair, your body stores them in its fat. Unfortunately, they don’t just stay there, but also can change cell structures and even become carcinogens that in the long run can cause cancer.
A good way to avoid this kind of altered food is to buy seasonal products from local farmers or organic stores and markets. Be aware of the miles your produce took before it came to you, so that you can also reduce your ecological footprint and help the environment. Imported foods from many miles away use up to four times the energy and, subsequently, produce four times the emissions of an equivalent domestic diet.
One interesting app you can use for free in your smartphone while shopping in supermarkets is Buycott, which comes with a barcode scanner that helps you learn a product’s history and suggested alternatives to find a product that’s a better match to your values and principles. There are also some useful websites where you can learn more about it and calculate the food miles of different products or their carbon footprint.
Of course that when it comes to helping to preserve the environment there is much more to it, but you can start with these small changes. Additionally it is recommendable trying to eat no or less meat. Meat production is not very ethical, consumes many raw materials and produces a lot of fumes, which is not good for the environment. Instead, consume more vegetable proteins e.g. from beans and other legumes. Luckily, the choices that may benefit the environment often keep you healthier too.
Get the most out of your food when cooking
In addition to the careful choice of food, the preparation of your food has an impact on the quality of your diet. Vitamins and minerals are susceptible to destruction by air, light, water, acid, alkali, heat, time and the action of enzymes in the foods themselves. Still, you can cut losses by the way that you store and choose to cook your foods. Fresh food is consensually good, but frozen is not necessarily bad. Frozen foods are usually processed soon after picking, while fresh foods may spend days in transport and storage before being consumed. If you cannot shop regularly, frozen produce may be more nutritious than fresh.
Then there are the three known R’s for nutrient preservation:
- reduce the amount of water used in cooking
- reduce the cooking time
- reduce the surface area of the food that is exposed.
Use cooking methods like steaming or stir-frying in a wok that use less water. Reduce the amount of water used in boiling and cover the pot to cook it quicker. Reuse cooking water in soups or sauces to seize escaped nutrients. Avoid chopping food into small pieces, which increases the surface area exposed to light, heat and water and therefore causes a higher nutrient loss. Additionally, keep the peels on foods like potatoes and carrots to preserve more nutrients.
Feel the benefits of a clean eating lifestyle
You are wondering how these changes in your diet can make you feel better and healthier than before? Here are some of the main benefits of a clean food eating lifestyle:
- With a balanced diet and eating a good variety of foods, you are more likely to get the adequate amounts of most essential nutrients. Additionally it is easier for you to maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of several serious diseases
- Whole foods are the best way to get a good combination of micronutrients, which might help to reduce your cholesterol levels and regulate your blood sugar. They also help to keep your digestive system regular and keep you satisfied longer
- Avoiding artificial ingredients keeps your cells strong so that your body systems work efficiently and you feel stronger and more active
Since diet is one of our basic needs, you should make a conscious decision to clean eating to make sure you find a sense of purpose in it. Search continuously for reliable and up to date information about what you consume. The decision to change your diet will be easier if you are aware of the links between clean eating, a healthy lifestyle and environmental protection. Everything is one. You can not separate these aspects.
Can farmers guarantee clean food?
The general awareness of the health aspects of nutrition is steadily increasing with the amount of information available on the internet. But understandably, concerns and questions also increase with this awareness. How are foods grown and in which condition do they reach our tables? Is it still possible for manufacturers to provide food that meets clean-eating standards? In the face of a changing climate and increasing pollution in the world, this is certainly a big challenge.
Several contemporary diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity, cardiovascular disease and even cancer, have been associated to today’s food industry with so many refined and processed foods. Consequently, in order to prevent these maladies, more and more people appreciate the advantages of organic and better quality food.
These are the main reasons why growing numbers of people are joining the fever of modern diets, from which the term “clean eating” has also emerged. Clean Eating is based on some pre-existing ideas and is contagiously spreading across social networks. A large part of the contributions to this trend you can follow on Instagram under the #cleaneating and #cleanfood hashtags.
Clean eating is all about eating seasonal nutritious-dense whole foods and buying organic or fresh products directly from local farmers whenever it’s possible. In a more general definition, it means “consuming food the way nature delivered it, or as close to it as possible”. To clarify if this is possible, let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges also organic farmers are facing in the following sections.
How changing climate can affect our food supply
Population growth and changing climate and have led to a warning on the world’s food supply. A year of too much rainfall or not enough, a hot spell or cold snap, or extremes like flooding and storms, can have a disastrous effect on local crop yields and livestock production. This can, consequently, affect the availability and price of agriculture products to its consumers.
Weather is a key factor in agricultural productivity. And although it might not be that easy to predict its consequences in the long term, we know that climate changing is already affecting agriculture, with effects unevenly distributed across the world.
A report published in 2001, from the IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, even stated that on the poorest countries, with lower agricultural productivity, higher poverty, vulnerability and food insecurity, climate change effects are expected to be especially harsh, due to the decrease of water availability and new or changed insect pest incidence. While a study published in 2008, in Science magazine, suggested that, because of climate change, “southern Africa could lose more than 30% of its main crop, maize, by 2030” and that “in South Asia losses of many regional staples, such as rice, millet and maize could top 10%”.
As crops can be impacted by climate change, farm animals are thought to be even more susceptible to changes in the climate. During stifling heat, livestock become heat-stressed and their reproduction declines as well as their appetite, which will lengthen the time needed to reach their target weight. With that happening, the incidence of sickness of these animals increases. And, in order to see the expected growth gains in livestock and avoid illnesses, growers will be forced to use feed additives, meaning an increased meat production cost that will also weigh more heavily to the final consumer.
Furthermore, as global warming progresses, there might be not enough water and nutrients in stressed soils to keep up with plant growth to feed the animals. Parasites and diseases can spread out, which decreases the availability of meat.
How about the world’s rising pollution
Among other problems, rising pollution is another aspect that is harming the farming community. Even with organic farming the pollutants will move up the food chain if crops are grown in areas where land soil, water or air is contaminated.
Actually, India is a good example of both these problems. Rice farmers are now worried about a lack of fertility in the soil and decreasing groundwater levels caused by successive droughts. Most of the rivers and water bodies are extremely polluted and don’t fit any longer for agricultural usage. For instance, farmers in Kanpur often complain that when they water their plants they die.
And although this may still not be a serious problem of more developed countries, global pollution has been rising at an alarming rate, menacing us all. This is not an exclusive problem of developing countries, because we all know the effects caused by modern industries and lifestyles.
Is it still possible to eat clean food?
By now you must be thinking this is a lost case, but that is not exactly the truth. We can still try to reverse the impacts of these menaces and find new solutions to stop the world’s pollution. In addition we need to adapt to the changing climate through research and alternative farming methods.
We should also assume an important role in the education of developing countries, to help address the pollution problem in some of the cases. We can help adapt their agricultural systems to changing climate, through the required innovation in policy and institutions. In the agriculture field, some of these chances are already being introduced by rotating crops, using technology to improve soil fertility, growing different crops or finding out about crop prices, new sources of water supplies and farming techniques. Even though it may not always be 100% reliable, using climate forecasting can also help to prevent more disastrous consequences on food supply.
According to the Swiss Climate Change Scenarios “CH2011” report, about how climate may change in Switzerland over the 21st century, the country is part of a larger area experiencing an increasing risk of drought and dry spells along with a decrease in the number of precipitation days. At a general level, this will result in a shift of suitable areas for agricultural production, and can have positive aspects, like a longer vegetation period due to rising temperatures, and negative ones, with increasing problems regarding pests owing to the milder winters.
However, similar to other countries, there are regional differences on the projected effects of climate change in food production, depending on the individual farm’s starting point. And Switzerland is timely addressing the challenge to adapt its agricultural sector to these changes, still ranking in the top countries of the organic market. Last year, Switzerland was the country with the highest per capita spending on organic food worldwide (299 swiss francs or 275 euros, in 2016) and, according to the latest figures, 51% of all Swiss consumers bought organic products several times a week that year. Even more impressive, the two main chains of supermarkets in Switzerland are bliss for organic food lovers, with Coop remaining the leader in organic product sales with a market share of 44,6%, followed by Migros, with 32,3%,
So we can answer the question “is it still possible to eat clean” answer with a “it depends”. In places like Switzerland, with minimal pollution and good farming, the answer might be even “yes”. In other places which are more polluted, it might be “no” or “not now”. To simplify it for yourself, stick to those simple rules for clean eating which we have discussed before:
- Prefer fresh seasonable and organic products from your local shops or markets
- Keep yourself informed about where the food comes from and how it is produced
Hopefully more and more people will have access to high quality organic food in the future. You can make a contribution by supporting measures that protect the environment and promote clean eating.
How clean eating can enhance your creativity in the kitchen
Cooking with the clean eating concept is thrilling. It offers an overwhelming variety of possibilities to create tasty culinary creations that will improve your health. One of the best ways to avoid processed and refined foods, replacing them for nourishing whole foods that will make you feel better, is carefully choosing your ingredients and preparing your own meals at home. When you are cooking, you have complete control over the food that you include.
Once you launch yourself, you may also feel comfortable making ingredients substitutions in your recipes and getting creative with what you have on hand. From now on, the sky is your limit! Embrace the joy of clean eating and get the most out of your food.
By spending some more time in the kitchen, you will find out that cooking is not just another tiresome housework task. In fact, it can do the opposite for you. Cooking clean food allows you to reconnect with ‘real’ food, giving you the sense of bigger control over your health and personal wellbeing.
It also allows you to be creative with food that, like in any other art, is a great stress reliever. Is it hard to believe? Then, maybe you should have heard about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness by now, increasing happiness and reducing stress. Well, cooking can reap some of those same rewards. By requiring your full attention, and involving you on smell and taste, while demanding being present with what you’re creating, cooking will smoothly help to liberate you from stress.
Is about thinking step-by-step but also thinking recipes as a whole, or picturing with whom and where you might share them. So cooking with your heart and focus is a really a good way of developing that balance of experiencing the moment and seing the bigger picture. By sharing it with other people it increases also love and a a sense of community. And the nice thing about it is that you have such a tangible reward at the end.
Besides making it easier to control the quality of your diet, when you prepare much of the food yourself you are not only feeding your body, but you are also nourishing your soul and psychological wellbeing. If you add the creative factor, the sense of accomplishment you feel afterward can be a boost for your self-esteem. Give yourself permission to be creative with your food and enjoy the process, without being too much perfectionist.
The way you prepare food can reveal your approach to life. Sometimes it even shows where you stand or where you want to go. If you are more or less stressed, if you gave it more or less time, what kind of diet you are following and does that speak some of your values and beliefs, are you more of a traditional person or an adventurer… As you see, your food speaks for you. So you better keep your nutrition naturally, healthy and interesting, by being and staying creative in the kitchen.
Delicious clean eating recipes
Now you can start straight away with sweet potato noodles and cauliflower pizza. Spoil yourself and your family with these two great recipes
Recipe: Sweet potato noodles with garlic butter sauce
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and spiralized or julienned
- 4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 coffee spoon Chili pepper paste
- 1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Sesame seeds and chopped cilantro for topping
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet. Add sweet potato noodles and stir fry gently for about 2 minutes, until cooked through but still crisp. Set aside.
- In the same skillet, melt remaining butter then add garlic and chili pasta. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes, then add broth and simmer for another 2 minutes to thicken the sauce.
- Add sweet potato noodles back to the skillet. Stir well to combine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, noodle should be still al dente.
- Serve the garlic butter sweet potato noodles immediately, topped with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro and additional black pepper if you want.
Note: Don’t overcook sweet potato noodles, so they remain deliciously crisp! You can add more chili paste if you like spicy dishes.
Recipe: Cauliflower pizza
- 2 pounds cauliflower florets, riced
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup soft goat cheese (chevre)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- pinch of salt
- Preheat your oven to 400F, then get to work on your crust.
- Begin by making your cauliflower “rice.” Simply pulse batches of raw cauliflower florets in a food processor, until a rice-like texture is achieved.
- Cook & Strain the rice. Fill a large pot with about an inch of water, and bring it to a boil. Add the “rice” and cover; let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. Drain into a fine-mesh strainer. Now here comes the secret: once you’ve strained the rice, transfer it to a clean, thin dishtowel. Wrap up the steamed rice in the dishtowel, twist it up, then squeze all the excess moisture out! And be careful not to burn your hands!
- Make & Shape the dough. In a large bowl, mix up your strained rice, beaten egg, goat cheese, and spices. Don’t be afraid to use your hands! You want it very well mixed. It won’t be like any pizza dough you’ve ever worked with, but don’t worry– it’ll hold together!
- Press the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400F.
- Load on the Toppings! Now’s the time to add all your favorites– sauce, cheese, and any other toppings you like. And return the pizza to the 400F oven, baking an additional 5-10 minutes, just until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for more recipes, you might find it on Instagram, for example, where food bloggers or food stylists share their creations. On the Qiii Media Facebook page, you’ll always find an editors choice of Instagrams top food posts.
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