We are excited to share this special guest post from Rebecca the Dietitian! We recognize how much the way you fuel your body influences your exercise results, and are excited to be able to bring you Rebecca’s sound eating advice to help you optimize your health, enjoy eating and get the most out of your workouts. We hope you will check out her post below and look forward to learning more from her. If you are in need of more guidance when it comes to nutrition, her comprehensive course, “Nourished & Fit” teaches you everything you need to know in order to lose weight, increase your energy, and balance your hormones (while enjoying delicious food of course)! Along with the course you will be invited to monthly group calls and a private Facebook community of amazing, supportive women. Please check out this link here to learn more (be sure to use the code ‘JSTV’ for a 30% discount).
Have you heard about clean eating? Do you know what it means? Are you wondering if you should be worried about it? Do you think you need to “eat clean” to lose weight? No need to stress! We’re here to help answer these questions and more.
Oxford dictionary defines “Clean Eating” as: the practice of eating primarily unprocessed and unrefined foods. Someone attempting to eat completely “clean” could try to make everything from scratch ingredients including fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Others might allow for packaged foods that have “clean” ingredients, meaning only unprocessed whole foods, not additives or chemicals. Examples of “clean” minimally packaged foods might be store-bought lentil soup or sprouted whole grain bread).
Is this a trend or is it really important? The answer is not completely black-and-white. Unprocessed foods in their natural form, do tend to be the most nutrient dense, and the most likely to be safe and nourishing for our bodies. Meanwhile, there are some highly processed foods, additives, and chemicals that are allowed in the food supply that have been shown to have detrimental consequences.
A good example of a food that reacts very differently in our body as it becomes more processed is sugarcane, which in its natural whole form is mostly water. If we were all gnawing on sugarcane for a snack, it would be sweet and fairly healthy. But once they take that sugarcane and process it and concentrate it into white sugar crystals now we have a substance that can cause issues with our hormones, cravings, weight, etc. If you take that same sugar and throw it into a cupcake with a bunch of chemicals that enhance the flavor and preserve the product so that it can be packaged and last on the shelf for a year, now it could potentially have increasingly detrimental health consequences.
In the sugar example we can see how highly processed foods might impact our weight. Chewing on sugarcane in its natural form would have minimal impact on our weight. But adding highly processed granulated sugar to our diet regularly can cause spikes in blood sugar and an insulin response that can encourage fat storage and increase sugar cravings. When we put the sugar into a food and then add flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, and preservatives sometimes these additives can negatively impact our endocrine system and hormones potentially causing more issues including difficulty managing our weight.
That being said, we need to find a balance where we can feed ourselves and the people we love in an affordable way that is convenient enough for us to have enough time to enjoy our lives. It may feel overwhelming when you first start looking into the ingredients of all the foods that you regularly buy. The good news is, there are some simple ways to move toward “clean” eating and it certainly gets easier with time and practice.
The first thing to do is promise not to panic. Many people consume large amounts of highly processed and packaged foods and end up living long happy lives. Moving towards more “clean” eating is an attempt to increase your odds of adding a few extra healthy years and potentially feel better in the process. You can start by taking inventory of how you currently eat. All of the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and other foods that you buy in their original format (with no added ingredients) are considered clean. Anything that you cook or create from those ingredients would also be considered “clean”. Anything that a restaurant or grocery store or food company cooks using only those whole ingredients is also considered “clean” in my book.
I wouldn’t worry about foods that you eat occasionally, but for foods that you eat very regularly, you may want to check the ingredients. I try to find foods with a lot of healthy ingredients that don’t have a lot of chemicals added. If you find that some of the foods that you purchase and consume regularly have a really long confusing ingredients list, see if you can find something to replace that item with that has ingredients that you understand.
I think it’s worth repeating that this isn’t something you should panic about. It’s just something that you can consider shifting that might make you a bit healthier and could cut some cravings and help you to feel your best. The goal isn’t every perfection. The goal is to take the best possible care of yourself because you are amazing and you deserve it.
Do you have a nutrition or weight loss related question for Rebecca? Please let us know what you’d like to learn more about in the comments below!