Clean Eating: What You Can & Cannot Eat

Start replacing unhealthy foods with nourishing foods. (Photo: Henry Leutwyler)

The word detox conjures up images of fasting, cleansing and restricting food groups. Especially for a family, it can sound too extreme. Instead, as a health coach, I advise my clients to focus on eating clean. Of course it is a form of detox, as you are getting rid of unhealthy foods and replacing them with nourishing foods, but it feels more do-able than trying to exist on juice. Even better, the whole family can join in.

Clean eating is a long-term lifestyle, not a diet. It will keep you and your family healthy with strong immune systems. One woman and her family that I know of moved to this country from Brazil. In their country the mother shopped every day or two for fresh vegetables, fruits and lean, organic cuts of chicken, meat & fish. Once living in America the family adopted the typical American diet of fast and overly processed food. The whole family got sick, fat, depressed and tired. The family ended up going from doctor to doctor and spent enormous amounts of money for care and to get drugs to mask several symptoms that were only a bi-product of their new eating habits. Once the mother went on a five-week Candida program, comprised of clean eating & exercise, she lost weight, gained energy and her depression lifted. She no longer needed the pharmaceutical drugs as her symptoms disappeared. The family also lost weight along side her and ate an overall better diet and change their lifestyle, too. It’s an example of why eating clean is so important. Here’s how you can do it too.

What to cut out: By just eliminating the temptations from your home environment, you will already be on a better path. Eliminate anything rich, sugary, or highly processed. Avoid fried foods, fast foods and snacks that only provide empty calories rather than nutrition. Do not purchase foods with high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, food colorings or preservatives. Read labels with your kids so they can learn about what’s in their food.

What to keep in: For the most part, a good rule is to avoid eating foods that come in a box, bag or can. A good rule of thumb is that fresh produce should fill up 80% of your cart. Choose whole foods from their most natural state.

Be adventurous: Incorporate new vegetables and fruits that you may not have had in the past. Add Kale, and collard greens, jicama, and grated turmeric. Learn about super foods and add fermented food to help you get your gut healthier.

Have your kitchen inspected: Many nutritionists or naturopaths offer at-home kitchen services. They will go through your pantry and refrigerator and help you remove the junk from your home. They can even go to the grocery or health food store with you, pointing out quality ingredients and new foods for you to try.

Make eating healthy easy: Keep a colorful array of fresh cut veggies and fruit in the fridge. Keep a fruit bowl in prominent sight. Purchase raw nuts, hummus, fresh salsa and guacamole. Make sure you take time to prep these fresh items by taking time to cut and have on hand for easier meal prep and grab and go snacks. By taking this time, it will be much more easier to cook healthier meals and grab a quick snack. After school, while the kids are doing their homework or while you are cooking dinner, put out the cut veggies and hummus. It is much better to fill up on healthy things than snacking on chips or empty calorie foods and your family will be getting much better nutrients.

Limit sugar: Excess sugar consumption is the main cause of obesity and pre-diabetes. There is also a direct link to eating sugar and brain health. There is new evidence that shows that 75-80% of our immune system is in direct relation to our gut health. We need to make sure that we don’t have an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria. It is also important to choose foods that are lower on the glycemic index. It is very different to eat white rice vs. brown rice. The white rice immediately turns to sugar and give you a high and then a low, where as the brown rice gets administered much slower into your system and keeps your energy constant. Better yet, add lentils or beans with the rice and it becomes a perfect protein. So learn about and choose foods that are lower on the glycemic index for consistent energy and not the extreme highs and lows of the typical sugar laden American diet.

What to indulge in when you do: For an occasional treat, choose better forms of your favorite sweets such as coconut milk ice cream, gluten free cookies or a product like Haagen Daz that lists only four ingredients. A key is to not have too many options for sweets, just one or two at a time depending on your family size. Eat dried fruits sparingly as they contain high amounts of sugar. Look for the dried fruits that do not contain preservatives. Those bright orange apricots look and taste great, however they are loaded with preservatives.

Eat clean for your family: What your family puts on the ends of their forks is critically important to their future health, both physically and mentally. It is important to teach our children good health habits now. As parents, we need to walk the walk and model good eating behaviors for our kids. It’s key to set a good foundation for health and wellness for everyone.


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