Glendale College's Student Magazine
Monday July 16th 2018

Eating Clean: Tips for a Healthier Lifestyle

healthy foodMany people are trying to become healthier in a world dominated by convenience, fast food and mega-sized servings. It has now become a trend, as much as hipster culture and red hair. People talk about getting healthier, juicing fruits and vegetables to get essential vitamins and to detox the body, or exercising more. In order to get healthy they have turned to “eating clean” as many like to call it. Healthy food is a critical piece of the equation: Even with a surfeit of exercise, a well-toned person could be just as unhealthy as their obese counterpart.

Unfortunately, a resolution to start eating healthier can be utterly derailed by an overwhelming trip to the health food store, with the immaculate lines of vegetables stretched out in every direction, unpronounceable nutritional supplements lining shelf after shelf and the deli section that takes up half a city block. Visiting the gourmet health food store with their astronomical prices will remind a would-be healthy eater why they haven’t started earlier, but that shouldn’t be the reason to give up the impulse to eat better.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5.2 million college students are obese. Broken down to percentages, the Journal of American College Health found that 21.6 percent of college students are overweight and that 4.9 percent are obese. More than 69 percent of the students surveyed eat less than five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and 67 percent eat less than 20 grams of fiber. The majority of college students exercise less frequently than three days per week.

“Processed foods are, plus or minus, 70 percent of what most of us eat, and there are an estimated 5,000 different additives that are allowed to go into our food,” estimates Melanie Warner, author of “Pandora’s Lunchbox.”

People who choose to eat clean aren’t necessarily overhauling their diet primarily to lose weight, and people who resolve to eat better may choose to simply avoid chemicals in their diets. Eating clean means “no processed food.” Processed foods are those with a label and contain multiple ingredients which frequently are not the edible part, but rather a preservative or coloring agent. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient then you are probably better off without it. Still interested in eating clean? Here are some suggestions to smooth the transition.

Clean eating may be interpreted differently, so the first thing to do is to define your meaning of “clean.” Here is a definition most people would agree on: Eating clean is simply the practice of avoiding processed and refined foods and basing your diet on whole foods. The first rule, is avoiding anything that is white (sugar, bread, rice etc.). Secondarily, lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains make great snacks. They come in a wide range of varieties and flavors and will leave you never craving junk food again.

Eating clean is simply the practice of avoiding processed and refined foods and basing your diet on whole foods.

Once you find what vegetables, fruits, whole grains and plants you like, it will be easier to plan your meals to fit your everyday lifestyle. Stay away from anything that big food corporations have made and altered in any way possible. Try to eat fruits, vegetables and grains that have come straight from plants; trees, grasses, vines, or bushes. Whole grains which haven’t been broken down. It is important to include these ingredients in any nutritional plan. Also when buying packaged food, look for ones with few ingredients and always read the label (the bread could be labeled as “whole grain” and have white flour listed as an ingredient).

Eating clean includes meats, unless you opt to try vegetarianism. Buy meat from the butcher rather than those pre-packaged meat products that you get from the supermarkets; you never know what has been ground and injected in them. If possible, grind the whole meat yourself or ask the butcher to do it for you.

There isn’t only one right way to plan your meals, but here are three very basic methods that are easy to follow.

  • The first method is to eat only when you feel hungry. The main thing to remember is to avoid any processed foods to only eat when you feel the need: many people only need three meals every day.
  • The second, and most common method, requires you to take 5-6 small portioned meals per day. This may seem a lot, but don’t forget that these are small portions: imagine your regular three meals divided in half and there are your six meals.
  •  The third method is not very different than the way you would normally eat, three meals a day spaced 3-4 hours apart, with one snack in between to leave you with four meals a day.

Cooking your own food is the easiest way to start eating healthier. You will not only know exactly what is in your meal, but you will also be able to be more creative with your cooking. The biggest draw-back to this method is that it’s time consuming. Sometimes lack of planning and preparation results in a trip to the drive-thru of the nearest fast food chain.

When you find the time to cook your own food, use whole foods as your ingredients whenever possible. Some examples would be whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, grass-fed and free-range meats, low fat dairy products, unsalted nuts, and seeds. Although it is sometimes hard to tell what foods have been genetically altered or have been otherwise chemically treated, avoiding processed foods is a good start.

It is always hard to change your lifestyle, and at the beginning of this journey the urge to eat the junk food you have been familiarizing your body with for your entire life may be overwhelming. However, once you fight the cravings, and maybe some depressive mode swings, every day will be easier than the day before.

Since your taste buds are not used to natural food you may not like the way natural and healthier food tastes in the beginning but eating clean on a regular basis will soon make you a fan. It is important to start slow and to not overwhelm your resolve by overdoing new food, especially if you have to make big changes in your daily diet to achieve the complete transformation to clean eating. Once you have made the turn with new eating habits and have adapted a method that suits you the best, it will come easy to you. All you need is the will to get started.

About Melinda Ebrahimi
Journalism major with an interest in advertising. Grew up in Germany. Knows four languages. Well-traveled and has a slight obsession with movies and popcorn.

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