How to Eat Clean
Unprocessed foods include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Dried legumes
- Farm-fresh eggs
Minimally processed foods include:
- Unrefined grains, like whole wheat bread and pasta, popcorn, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Unprocessed meat; wild over pastured, pastured over grain-fed
- Hormone-free dairy
Pesticide-free organic food is preferable to avoid consuming added hormones or chemicals. It’s also important to note that eating clean doesn’t give you free reign to eat endless quantities. They may be healthy, but they still have calories!
“You always have to think about portion size,” says Marissa Lippert, RD, owner of Nourish Kitchen + Table, a seasonally influenced cafe in New York City. “I always encourage people to think of their plate in terms of fifths: three-fifths should be fruits and vegetables, one-fifth should be protein, and one-fifth healthy carbs.”
How to Shop Clean
Realistically, eating clean doesn’t mean you need to eat everything raw and straight from the ground. It means choosing minimally processed foods with few ingredients on the label, if it has a label at all.
“If you’re shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store, that’s always a good start,” says Lippert.
When perusing the main aisles for packaged foods, ask yourself: Where did this food or its ingredients come from? How much has it been processed or handled? The ingredient label should be short, and all ingredients should be recognizable. Scan for easy-to-avoid additives like artificial coloring and flavors.
How to Cook Clean
Cooking does alter your food, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“While it’s true that some nutrients are lost during cooking, like vitamin C, other nutrients are increased when foods are cooked, like lycopene, so it’s best to eat a wide variety of foods, in both their raw and cooked forms,” says EA Stewart, RD, who blogs at The Spicy RD.
When cooking food, “the focus should be on maintaining the integrity of what you are consuming and avoiding high-fat cooking methods such as deep-frying or stewing in animal or vegetable fats,” says Miranda Hammer, a New York City registered dietitian and author of food blog The Crunchy Radish.
When cooking, opt for flash-cook methods such as stir-frying and ones without additives like steaming. For fruits and veggies, raw is best, but steaming is a close second in terms of preserving nutritional value and keeping the food’s natural integrity.