Let’s face it, losing weight and getting healthier are amongst two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions people make this time of the year. And, after several weeks of overindulging on rich festive foods, your body is probably crying out for a detox. Clean eating has been a buzzword in the world of nutrition in recent years – and, if you can stick to it, it’s a great way to live – but what does eating clean really mean and is it compatible with our busy lifestyles?
In all honesty, clean eating simply means eating a healthier, more balanced diet – it’s not rocket science and it isn’t something you should obsess about. Here are key benefits of ‘clean’ eating that are easy to follow.
Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables
Veggies are powerhouses of goodness and we don’t eat enough of them. Think of ways to get more of them into your diet. Substitute carrots, cucumber of whatever vegetables you fancy for fish next time you make sushi, for example.
Again, this is nothing new – try swopping out some of the foods you eat regularly with wholefoods from time to time e.g. brown rice for white rice, wholemeal bread for white bread.
Less Processed Food
Now here’s where it gets complicated as there are a lot of foods out there that are processed and happen to be very good for you – Yutaka’s tofu being just one example.
So this rule is more about foods that have been highly-processed and have nothing in the way of nutritional value about them at all – think shop-bought cakes, biscuits and sweet breakfast cereals. It’s just about applying common sense!
Again, there’s been a lot of talk about good and bad fats. But if you’re trying to lower your cholesterol and have substituted coconut oil for butter because you’ve seen all the hype about it being so good for you, you may be making a mistake!
You’re best sticking to unsaturated fats – polyunsaturated (soya bean and fatty fish such as tuna and mackerel) are mono-unsaturated (avocado, hazelnut, almonds, Brazil nut, cashew, sesame, pumpkin, olive and rapeseed oils) and the best options for a healthier heart.
Less booze, more water
Too much of anything is bad for you and this includes alcohol. Whilst an occasional glass of red wine is fine for its anti-oxidant benefits, if you’re downing a bottle a day, you’re doing more harm than good. Remember a balanced diet is about doing everything in moderation.
And make sure you drink several litres of pure, unadulterated water a day. Fizzy drinks and cups of tea don’t count!
Sort out the sugar & salt
Sugar consumption should be restricted to 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 for men. So make sure you read the labels on the things you buy to check for hidden sugar and also be wary of drinking too much fruit juice – freshly-squeezed or not, it’s still packed with fructose (sugar, in other words).
It’s also worth trying to retrain your palate to want less salt. Try not to add additional salt when cooking or when you’re sitting at the table and enjoy food as it comes.
Fruit or no fruit?
We grew up being told to eat more fruit, but now guidelines suggest we limit the amount of fruit we eat to a couple of servings a day. A serving is a fruit the size of a cricket ball, such as an apple. Not much really! Whilst fruit is full of fibre and vitamins, it’s also full of sugar and carbs. Be particularly careful of dried fruit as this is particularly high in sugar.
As we said at the start, when you get down to brass tacks, there’s nothing new about clean eating, it’s common sense. It’s all about balance – if you stick to the rules most of the time, then rewarding yourself with a sweet indulgence or a fast food meal is fine. One of the healthiest diets on the planet is the traditional Japanese way of eating, so remember to stock up on Yutaka products in 2017.
Happy New Year!