According to Ayla Withee, a registered dietitian based in Boston and author of the blog Eat Simply, clean eating refers to highly restrictive diets or simple attempts to avoid processed foods.

She explains: “To ‘eat clean’ means to eat a diet that is rich in whole foods and food products that are minimally processed and do not contain artificial ingredients”.

Michelle Dudash, R.D.N, chef, nutritionist, and expert on eating clean states: “The foundation of clean eating is choosing foods closest to their natural state”. This means eating fresh fruit instead of juice and eating whole grains instead of white bread.

According to Withee, the most important reason to embrace clean eating is nutrition. As she puts it: “Whole foods are naturally nutrient-dense, so you’ll consume more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other important compounds that are functionally important for every cell in your body”. Dudash adds:” You’ll also feel more energized, reduce your risk of diseases, improve your fertility, and even improve the health of your hair, skin, and nails, since you’re filling the nutritional gaps in your diet”. Whole foods contain more fiber which makes them able to provide sense of satiety and weight control. As a result of higher fiber intake, many people who switched to a clean diet were able to lower cholesterol and to improve digestion.

When you consume whole foods, there is no need of processing additives, preservatives and other harmful chemicals that can be found in the packaged products. As Withee explains:”This means less work for your liver and other detoxification systems. This alone can help reduce ‘brain fog’ and increase mental focus.” Dudash adds: .” Some clean eaters also notice a decrease in bloating because their sodium intake drops. Plus, a growing body of research suggests that some additives in our food supply have carcinogenic effects and even mess with hormones that regulate weight, appetite, mood, and fertility. “We know there are some negative effects, but the jury is still out”.
It is recommended to start with a commitment to eat clean for only one week. You will notice a significant decrease in inflammation and bloating, as a result to the reduced sodium intake and the increased fiber. You can start by piling half your plate with vegetables and fruits. Then, keep to the following 7 clean eating rules to detox your diet:

1. Make sure you buy ethically raised meats. Pastured animals and meat from grass-fed animals is always the cleanest option. Animals that are raised for meat are fed with hormones, antibiotics and fed diets that don’t optimize their health. Many studies suggest that grass-fed beef is rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as in micronutrients.

2. As there is no organic fish yet, shopping for sea food can be a bit trickier. Opt for wild Alaskan salmon instead of farm-raised salmon due to its lower content of polychlorinated biphenyls. These compounds are associated with harmful health effects. Farmed fish, such as tilapia is also acceptable.

3. Try to cook ancient grains as much as you can. Pasta, cookies, bread, crackers and other refined grains are a bit troublesome. During the refining process they lose much of their enzymes, fiber, nutrients, flavor, and natural oils. Opt for ancient grains, such as buckwheat, farro, and amaranth- grains that are nutrient-dense and easier to digest. Brown rice, quinoa, and sorghum are also good choices. It is important to cook then from scratch either on slow cooker, pressure cooker, stovetop or rice cooker. “Whole grains freeze beautifully, so you can make a big batch and have whole grains ready for side dishes, salads, soups, and breakfast porridges,” says Withee.

4. You should avoid colorful mixed drinks. As the whole point of eating clean is to minimize toxins in your diet, it is counterproductive to consume lot of alcohol. A nightly glass of wine is acceptable. In order to reduce the extra chemicals in the bottle, opt for organic or biodynamic one. Withee adds: “I cringe when I see grenadine or maraschino cherries being mixed into drinks because they’re full of dyes and preservatives”. You can enjoy in some cocktail occasionally, but choose smart mixers like seltzer water with lime twist or lemon.

5. Look for the right proteins. “It is really difficult to find a truly clean protein powder,” says Withee, because these products are highly processed. “Your best strategy is to make a protein-rich smoothie with less processed foods such as Greek yogurt, kefir, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, some nut butter, fruit, and vegetables,” she says. If you can’t part with the convenience of packaged shakes, read the ingredient lists carefully and look for terms you recognize, says Dudash. You can replace the isolated soy protein with pea protein or a grass-fed milk protein. The problem with soy protein is that during processing, it is exposed to solvents and chemicals.

6. Consider DIY milk. As cow`s milk causes bloating, opt for the cleanest non-dairy milk if you can. Homemade cashew milk it highly recommended. All you need to do is to soak cashews in water for few hours and then blend one part cashews with four parts water. Feel free to add cinnamon, honey or vanilla extract to taste. If you are looking for a simpler variant, you can choose unsweetened, organic dairy products because healthier animals produce healthier food. You can consume yogurt as long as you stick with plain ones, such as kefir and unsweetened Greek because they are don’t cause bloating. You can consume cheese and butter from grass-fed cows as well.

7. Be careful with caffeine. Tea and coffee are rich in antioxidants but bottled ice tea and energy drinks are not. As a matter of fact, they are packed with sugar and other completely unnecessary ingredients. The best solution is to brew your own coffee or tea and then add honey or other natural sweetener. The recommended daily amount of caffeine is 300 milligrams or less. This is equivalent to 2 cups of coffee.