How well can we really swim, work, live, etc. if we donít eat well? Recently I came across two articles on Clean Eating that I found interesting and simple that I want to share with the fitness swimming community.
The first article, What is Clean Eating, was sent to me by an Occupational Athletic Coach for a newsletter that I distribute bi-monthly at work:
What is Clean Eating?
To eat clean is to choose foods that your body recognizes as a pure source of fuel. When foods have a less clean make-up there is an increased chance that potentially harmful chemicals and hormones will be ingested. Many of these added substances can cause food allergies, hormonal disruption, weight gain, and other adverse health issues. These processed foods often contain additives to alter the taste and preserve the ingredients for a longer time. By contrast, clean or less processed, foods have had minimum human interference before reaching your mouth.
Below are a few common food additives to be avoided when possible
When it comes to clean eating, less is more. If you choose foods with labels, take a look at how many ingredients are listed. Typically, the more ingredients added, the less clean it is. Some other helpful tips include shopping the perimeter at the grocery store; you are more likely to find less processed foods here. The more color the better; white foods generally indicate that the food is refined, processed, or enriched.
- Potassium Bromate: A compound in flour and helps bread puff up during baking.
- Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Trans Fat): A semi-solid fat created when food processors force hydrogen into unsaturated fatty acids.
- Ammonium Sulfate: An inorganic salt that occurs naturally near active volcanoes and is used commercially in flame retardants.
- Aspartame: A zero-calorie artificial sweetener made by combining two amino acids with methanol. Most commonly used in diet soda.
- Sodium Nitrites: They occur naturally but are synthetically produced for use in fertilizer and as food additives (used in curing process of meats).
Organic Growers vs. Conventional Growers
Organic foods are grown without conventional pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones. Conventional growers use chemicals to protect their crops from molds, insects, and diseases. When farmers spray produce, an invisible residue can be left behind. Choosing organic foods can limit exposure to foreign additives.
The descriptions below cover some of the common labels printed on packaging.
The second article I found via a simple online search for Clean Eating. Shannon Clark, Contributing Writer at Bodybuilding.com provides simple, intuitive advice in her article, "10 Rules of Clean Eating." I capture the highlights of her 10 Rules below:
- 100% Organic: Food must be all organic or contain only organically produced ingredients
- Organic: Food must be at least 95% organic
- Made with Organic Ingredients: Food must contain 70% organic ingredients
- Natural: Food with no legal U.S. definition. Foods may/may not contain additives, artificial coloring, and preservatives
10 Rules of Clean Eating
...So what is clean eating? It is taking the time to know what your food is made of, and choosing to eat it in its most natural state. ...It's about making choices that promote optimum long-term health for your body.
Bottom line, all of this advice is a great way to start heading in the right direction BEFORE the holidays arrive!
- Approach your Meals as a Lifestyle
Want to get serious? Then forget the D-word entirely. Clean eating is not a fat-loss diet. This is a lifestyle that you're going to sustain from this day forward.
- Load Up on Fresh Produce
Your golden rule of clean eating should be to include as much fresh produce in your daily diet as possible. Vegetables make every dietary system better and healthier. They provide the vitamins and nutrients to keep you feeling as good as you look, and the soluble fiber to make sure you suck every last bit of nutrition out of everything else you eat.
- Shop the Perimeter of the Grocery Store
Every store is different, but as a general rule, the periphery is the natural habitat of the fresh vegetable, meat market, whole-grain baked goods, and the nuts and dried fruits in the bulk bin. Get comfortable here; it is now your territory.
- Eliminate Added Sugars
Foods in their most natural state do not contain added sugar-that's why it's called "added sugar." Fruit can still be your friend, but in the case of sweeteners that have been mixed into your food during the manufacturing process, it's best to just say no.
- Drink More Water
Hydrated muscles grow and perform at a higher level, and they are better protected against catabolism (breakdown) than muscles that are a quart low.
- Sit Down
Part of making healthy eating your lifestyle is setting aside the time to do it right. This means sitting down to a meal whenever possible, preferably at a table, with the people you care about.
- Balance your Diet
Two of the central ideas behind clean eating are balance and moderation. When it comes down to it, the key is to be mindful of your food and what it's made of. If you don't know, that's a problem. You're putting this stuff in your body, after all!
- Use Smart Flour Substitutes
Yes, you can enjoy baked goods and eat clean at the same time. The secret is to be open to the world beyond refined white flour. There's a nearly unlimited variety to choose from.
- Don't Eat Foods with Ingredients you can't Pronounce
A good general rule: If you can't state the name of a particular ingredient in the food you're about to dine on, then consider passing.
- Focus on Nutrients, not just Calories
Last but not least, as you launch your clean-eating plan, don't get too caught up in the numbers game. ...It's easy to measure everything in terms of calories-in, calories-out. While this approach can help make you thin, it's not enough to make you healthy. Today, we know that getting the proper nutrients is far more important to overall health than simple caloric balance.