Clean eating is about feeding yourself the highest quality ingredients to help your body perform its best. The foods we eat help build muscle, maintain a healthy immune system, and protect our organs. With clean eating, you’ll feel good about what you put in your body—lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains—and you’ll see the results. By eating a diet that’s considered clean, you’ll have improved digestion, increased energy, and a reduced risk for disease, according to a 2013 study published by Nutrition Reviews.
While eating clean involves cooking many things from scratch and buying organic, with a little planning and smart shopping, you can make this lifestyle work for you, no matter the size of your paycheck or how busy your schedule is. Another great perk of eating clean? Your meals will be hearty enough to fill you up, but you’ll probably lose weight due to the overall healthier content of the foods you’re eating.
Say Good-Bye to Counting Calories
Clean eating is not a restrictive diet, so there is no need to count calories. It just makes sense that, since you’re not eating the empty calories that processed foods deliver, you’ll be consuming the proper amount of calories that whole foods inherently offer. An added bonus is that most clean foods simply aren’t high in calories. Even the ones that are slightly higher in calories—such as avocados and olive oil—contain “good” fat, so there is a benefit they confer.
When you start looking at the recipes in this book, you’ll notice that they include nutritional information, including calorie counts. If you’re used to counting calories, it might be comforting to have this information, at least in the beginning, to be able to compare what you get from clean foods versus diets you’ve tried previously. As you start to feel better and better as a clean eater, the compulsion to count calories will correspondingly decrease.
Clean eaters don’t have a free pass, however, to eat as much as they’d like. Keeping portions appropriately sized is important. Each day, you should eat roughly six to ten servings of complex carbohydrates, five to six servings of lean protein, and two to three servings of heart-healthy fats. But what exactly is a “serving”?
- 1 serving of whole grains = your cupped palm (½ cup)
- 1 serving of vegetables = your fist or both palms cupped together (1 cup)
- 1 serving of lean protein = the flat palm of your hand (3 ounces)
- 1 serving of fat = the top half of your thumb (1 teaspoon)
- 1 serving of cheese = your thumb (1 ounce)
- 1 serving of nuts or seeds = ½ of your cupped palm (¼ cup)
By eating the right foods in proper portions, your metabolism will keep going and you won’t consume more than you should. Remember to eat slowly, to savor every bite, and to eat until you’re satisfied instead of eating until you’re “full.”