According to the Gracious Pantry, a very helpful clean eating blog I found, there are three methods of eating clean (with her comments on each):
There are many people simply looking to remove the chemicals from their diets and bodies, and therefore eat clean. Their focus is NOT on losing weight, but on general health. They avoid processed foods of all kinds, yet eat only when the need arises or three times per day.
- Eat Lots Of Plants – Eat food that is straight from nature. (Some people say “as close to the way nature made it as possible”. Eat mostly foods that are off a tree, bush, plant or vine, and you’ve pretty much got it covered. The idea is to stay away from anything that humans (food corporations) have altered in any way.
- Include Meats - Eat meats that are whole and straight from the butcher. Don’t buy pre-packaged meat products because you never know what’s in them. When possible, buy whole meats and grind them yourself. You’d be surprised what’s in ground turkey meat! You can also select a few turkey breasts and ask that the butcher grind them for you. Many butchers are more than willing to accommodate.
- Enjoy Grains - Eat grains that are still complete and haven’t been broken down into “glue”. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat and other whole grains.
- Read Labels I don’t know how many breads I’ve picked up at the store that say they are whole grain. But when I take a look at the ingredient list, white flour is the second ingredient after whole wheat flour!
- Eat Fewer Ingredients. Try not to purchase foods that have more than 3-6 ingredients in the ingredient list. And be sure you recognize each and every ingredient. If you find a “mystery ingredient” such as “spices”, contact the company! Ask them what they consider to be spices. If it’s anything other than honest-to-goodness herbs and spices, avoid it! And remember, if you can’t pronounce it, it probably shouldn’t go into your body.
- Eat 5-6 small meals per day. This may seem like a lot at first. But remember, you are eating smaller portions. If you really have a hard time with this, prepare your regular three meals and a snack for the day, and divide lunch and dinner in half. You’ve instantly got 6 small meals!
There is also another method of eating 3 regular meals and squeezing in 1 snack for a total of 4 meals. You eat every four hours instead of every 2-3. This concept is from Jillian Michaels and the theory behind it is that if you eat every 2-3 hours, your insulin stays continuously spiked and you end up with a higher chance of diabetes.
I like the concept in Method 3 of eating three regular meals and one snack. I have attempted the 5-6 small meals before and didn't find it worked well for me. The other points seem pretty straightforward...eat more more fruits and veggies, we can still eat meats, choose whole grans, read labels, eat fewer ingredients.