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Whether on social media, in blogs or lifestyle magazines – we are constantly being confronted with more and more nutritional trends. While some of these trends may appear questionable or even harmful to health, others do indeed have some advantages. Today we are tackling one of the most popular nutrition trends: Clean Eating. In the following article we explain what Clean Eating means, give you tips on how to successfully implement Clean Eating and provide you with a delicious menu for a "clean" weekend so that you can try out the nutritional trend for yourself.
Clean Eating is the preparation and consumption of foods that are as natural as possible. Clean Eating started as a movement against the frequent consumption of industrially processed foods these days, since eating lots of it can have several disadvantages for your health. Some processed foods lose nutrients and vitamins because they are not prepared gently. Moreover, many foods are enhanced with additives to increase their taste and color or to extend their shelf life. These additives in turn can have a negative impact on our body, which is why it is recommended to consume as little of them as possible.
If you want to practice Clean Eating, you must follow a diet which includes as much unprocessed food as possible. However, Clean Eating does not mean that you can only eat raw food. Cooked, baked or fried dishes can also be "clean" if you only use unprocessed products for the preparation and seasoning. To enjoy the health benefits of Clean Eating on a long-term basis, at least 80 % of the meals you eat should be "clean". This way you avoid the intake of unnecessary additives and low-nutrient foods, but you still have the flexibility you need for the weekly business lunch, grandma's birthday cake or a cozy dinner with friends.
To make your start into Clean Eating easier, we have put together five helpful tips that you can use to move towards a natural diet step by step:
Tip 1: Pay attention to the list of ingredients
The next time you visit the grocery store, pay more attention to which foods you buy. Sometimes it is not quite easy to see which foods are "clean" and which are not. A look at the list of ingredients can often help here. Usually, the longer the list of ingredients, the greater the likelihood that the food is not clean. It is also important which individual components the food consists of. Complex sounding ingredients usually indicate that sugar and additives are included, so you should avoid buying these foods.
Tip 2: Beware of fast food!
Eating convenience- or fast food is a tempting way to satisfy your hunger, especially if you have little time to cook. However, these are usually full of preservatives, sugar and unhealthy fats. Even supposedly "clean" meals such as salads can contain undesirable ingredients, especially in salad dressing. If you want to eat out, you can ask about the ingredients of the dishes. If you plan to have a salad from the take-away, use a dressing you made yourself instead of the one that comes with it.
Tip 3: Cooking yourself is half the battle
Try to eat self-cooked meals as often as possible. In case you are very busy and have only little time to cook, you can also try meal prepping, i.e. cook your dishes for the week in advance and eat them at later times (read our blog post about meal prepping here). This saves you more overall cooking time. If you have more time, you can try making things yourself, that you would normally buy in the store, such as bread or vegetable broth. Especially with vegetable broth, it makes sense to cook larger quantities and then freeze them in portions so that you always have enough of it ready to use.
Tip 4: Fight your cravings with filling meals
Especially when we are hungry in between meals, chocolate bars and other unhealthy snacks are tempting. However, they are processed industrially and largely consist of sugar. To avoid cravings, you should eat filling meals. Since Clean Eating is not primarily about losing weight, less attention must be paid to calories in the main meals, but mainly to the level of processing of the food. We recommend a combination of high-quality proteins (e.g. from lentils, beans, soy or fish) and complex carbohydrates (e.g. from whole grains, brown rice or quinoa). Healthy fats (e.g. from avocados, nuts and high-quality oils) are also allowed on the menu and provide you with important nutrients.
Tip 5: rely on natural sweeteners
Try to sweeten your food and beverages with natural foods and avoid industrial sugar or sweeteners. Whether it is the honey in the tea, the bananas in the porridge or the dried dates in the cake - you see there are numerous natural alternatives.
For those who want to dive into the world of Clean Eating and try it out for themselves, we have put together a small nutrition plan with delicious "clean" and healthy recipes:
Start your day with a delicious chia granola. If you make granola yourself, you can regulate the amount of sugar to your needs and be sure that no additives are included.
For lunch, you can make shashlik skewers. This dish is not only delicious but requires only little ingredients and can be combined with any sides.
This quinoa salad with salmon is an ideal lunch. Quinoa is known for being a “superfood” and rich in nutrients while the salmon provides you with healthy fats.
Even though most of us will probably not completely do without processed food in the near future, it is still advisable to take a somewhat more critical look at your own food consumption and think about a diet with more natural-based and less industrially processed foods. If you don’t want to go “all in”, you can still introduce one “clean day” per week or generally pay more attention to what you throw into your shopping cart when going grocery shopping. It's not that difficult!
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