Last Updated on February 23, 2020 by Cathy Jo Johnson
In 2017, the Centers For Disease Control estimate that more than 70% of American’s are overweight or obese.
At the heart of this epidemic are processed foods. It’s no secret that processing food adds calories, fat, sugar and salt and is now a mainstay in American diets. They are a main cuplrit behind weight gain and an obsticle to a clean eating lifestyle. Our appetite for these quick, convenient options has resulted in increasing waistlines and shrinking wallets from the cost of obesity-related diseases.
The reliance on processed foods coupled with aging makes it more difficult than ever for people over 40 to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and its related diseases shorten life spans and make it difficult to enjoy our later years. Adopting a clean eating lifestyle can minimize your risks and help you live a longer healthier life.
What does it mean to eat clean? Simply, a clean eating diet is centered around consuming more whole food. Products in a box, bag or carton are eliminated in favor of food in a more natural state, i.e., eating an apple versus applesauce.
Nature has given us a few perfect foods. What makes a food perfect? In my opinion, it must have many health benefits, be versatile, easy to use and it goes without saying, delicious!
These are five of my favorite clean eating foods:
Remember Popeye? He attributed his bulging biceps and extraordinary strength to spinach, and it isn’t an old wives’ tale. Spinach leaves (and most dark, green leafy vegetables), are the king of vegetables. Packed with water-soluble vitamins (C, B1, B2, B3, B6), fat-soluble vitamins (K, A, E), minerals (potassium, zinc, folate, magnesium) and other less common nutrients (chlorophyll and alpha-lipoic acid amongst others), makes spinach an extraordinarily nutritious and health-balancing food.
It is incredibly versatile too, raw, cooked or wilted in salads, added to smoothies and casseroles, for taste, color, and nutrition. Medical New Today associates a number of health benefits with spinach including; diabetes management, bone strength, cancer protection, asthma prevention and lowering blood pressure. Additionally, spinach is responsible for boosting our collagen production which is essential for healthy ageless skin.
Can we ever satisfy our sweet tooth naturally? The answer is a resounding yes! Raw honey is Nature’s sweetener. Not only is it sweeter than sugar, but it’s good for you! It has a lower Glycaemic Index than sugar, meaning that the sugar is absorbed slowly in our digestive tracts, not causing a high (and unhealthy) insulin response. It also contains decent amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it an excellent choice of sweetener.
How many foods, in their natural form, are blue? Not many! Maybe that’s what makes blueberries unique. Convenient, just eat them by the handful, and delicious, add them to smoothies, fruit salads and these are the queen of fruits! High in antioxidants, like resveratrol, these can make you live longer.
They also contain many anti-inflammatory nutrient benefits. Long-term, low-grade inflammation makes aging more painful. Swollen joints can make it uncomfortable to exercise, which makes it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight and potentially leads to some unhealthy consequences.
A health fad? Maybe, but nutritionally sound? Definitely. Chia seeds are well known for their Omega-3, fiber and iron content. They also contain antioxidants, calcium and a fair amount of protein. Fiber content can help increase bowel regularity, as well as aid in heart and cardiovascular health (in combination with Omega-3s). They can substitute for eggs in vegan cooking when mixed with water, added to granolas, trail mixes and made into a pudding.
Do you find yourself running short on time for a healthy morning breakfast? An overnight chia seed delight is the perfect answer.
My favorite way to utilize chia seeds is in salad dressing. Go to your refrigerator and read the label on the bottle of salad dressing. I’m betting you didn’t realize how many additives, sugar, and fats were in that innocent looking container. Since the chia seeds absorb the liquid you’ll need less dressing but still get a taste of dressing in every bite.
No list of perfect foods would be considered complete without coconut. Incredibly versatile, and with a delightful flavor, coconut is any health nut’s dream. Not sure what to do with raw coconut? Here’s a step by step guide to help.
Step into any grocery store today, and you will find shelves lined with coconut products. Coconut butter, oil, flour and sugar, dried and desiccated coconut, coconut milk, water, cream and coconut aminos. Just remember, processing can turn any healthy food into an unhealthy one.
A healthy clean eating lifestyle provides your body the nutrition it requires and is a long-term answer for weight management. Starting today, pick one of nature’s five perfect foods and commit to adding more of it in your diet. You’ll be taking another step toward a clean eating lifestyle and a healthier happier version of you!
How are you eliminating processed food from your diet? Leave a comment down below.
P.S. Have you gotten your FREE copy of 25 Tricks to Staying Fit Without Feeling Overwhelmed? These changes helped me maintain a 100-pound weight loss for 14 years.