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The best diet? So fresh and so clean

Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

The term “eating clean” has been popping up a lot in recent years. The trend might have been first identified in 1993, when Gerald Celente coined the term “clean foods” in an article written for The Trends Journal.

Celente defined clean foods as those that are “free of artificial preservatives, coloring, irradiation, synthetic pesticides, fungicides, ripening agents, fumigants, drug residues and growth hormones” and those that are “processed, packaged, transported and stored to retain maximum nutritional value.”

Since then, there have been numerous articles and books written about clean eating with almost as many interpretations as there are authors. But there are common themes, and many of them make sense to anyone who is trying to eat healthier.

Put most simply, eating clean means avoiding processed and refined foods and basing your diet on whole foods. Here are a few key concepts from the book “Eating Clean for Dummies”, written by Jonathan Wright and Linda Johnson Larsen:

Eat whole foods. Whole foods are foods that haven’t been tampered with, in the lab or the manufacturing plant. The foods you eat on this plan are straight from the farm: whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, grass-fed and free-range meats, low-fat dairy products, unsalted nuts and seeds.

Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are any food with a label. A label means that more than one ingredient was used to make that food. You don’t have to eliminate all processed foods (like whole grain pasta or natural cheeses), but if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on a label, don’t put that food in your shopping basket.

Eliminate refined sugar. Refined sugar provides nothing but calories. Other sweeteners can be used, but with all the good foods you add to your diet, refined sugar really has very little place in the eating clean plan.

Cook your own meals. Instead of buying meals in a box, cook meals from scratch. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Clean, whole foods need little preparation beyond chopping and sautéing to make satisfying, delicious meals your family will love.

While there might be many perceived advantages to clean eating, it’s important to point out that some of the health claims are yet to be scientifically proven. I should point out that it is still possible to overeat while following these principles. So, if you decide to focus on the quality of your food, make sure that you do not lose sight of quantity.  

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