During our journey we spoke to many of you and we often heard “ But what does clean eating mean? Is it about dieting?”, “What foods are the best for me? Is it true that carbs are bad for our body?”, “Do I get enough proteins if I eat plant-based?” or also “How can whole food and plant-based meals boost my health?”.
Today we want to answer your questions. We want to explain and talk more about these topics and we will do it in three parts.
The meaning of Clean Eating – Part I
Clean eating is eating ingredients and meals that focus on the consumption of whole food rather than processed food. Processed food impacts our body in ways we don’t quite understand but one thing that has been proven is that it causes inflammation and acidity. An acidic environment adversely affects health at the cellular level. People with low pH are prone to fatigue and disease. When you follow one of our complete clean eating experiences, we only use alkaline forming foods which reduce the body’s acidity. Acid forming foods include sweets and sodas made with refined sugars but also include artificially sweetened drinks. Meat and dairy are also part of it, so are coffee, alcohol and smoking. Our approach to clean eating is to be as balanced as possible by following a plant-based diet most of the time and consuming as many whole foods as possible.
What does plant-based mean?
It means foods that only come from plants, or in other words vegan. Plant-based food does not contain any animal products such as meat, milk and eggs. Think of fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, seeds, nuts and legumes.
Why whole food?
Whole food describes natural food that are not heavily processed. That means whole, unrefined, or minimally refined ingredients.
When we talk about a refined ingredient or food that has been processed, we refer to the process of removing, heating at very high temperatures or adding ingredients that don’t benefit overall health. This includes adding sugars, salt to preserve food, fat or additives and preservatives like E200 and every other word starting with an E.
Refined foods also include foods that have been heated at very high temperatures to remove fat. Some good examples are fat free produce like yoghurt, margarine and lactose free milk. All have been heated at extreme temperatures to remove the fat content. If you look at their labels though, you will see that fat has often been replaced by sugars.
Some other examples of heavily processed foods are packaged cakes, dried meat like charcuterie but also meat replacement products like vegan hotdogs. Vegan doesn’t mean healthy but we will talk about this in the next part.
Brown rice versus white rice
A very common refined ingredient and very simple one to understand is white rice. White rice doesn’t grow in rice fields. Originally white rice is brown rice that has been stripped of its outer shell. More specifically, white rice misses its hull (the hard-protective coating), bran (outer layer) and germ (nutrient-rich core). Meanwhile, brown rice has only the hull removed. For this reason, white rice contains less fibre, and it lacks many vitamins and minerals.
What we mean by Clean Eating
At EATbyalex, when we talk about clean eating, we want to promote the consumption of foods that come as close to their natural form and using as little processing as possible. For us eating clean means eating 100% natural, organic, plant-based and whole food meals that are freshly cooked every day. That also implies the use of seasonal and local produce. That’s what the nature has planned for us and offers us in abundance.
Diversity over quantity
We believe that eating as many different ingredients as possible is essential for better nutrient and protein absorption. Getting your nutrients from just a few ingredients is simply not enough. The official recommendation is to consume a minimum of 5 veggies and fruits a day. We suggest to aim for 10 a day. At EATbyalex, we use more than 40 different fruits & vegetables during our 5 days complete clean eating experiences.
We also use more than 10 different nuts and seeds including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. We don’t use refined white rice but instead have black rice, red rice, brown rice, brown basmati and jasmine rice.
There is so much choice that is rarely used in a classic diet. Other complex carbs include black, red and white quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat. All of these are gluten-free. If you don’t follow a gluten-free diet, you could also consider spelt, barley and whole wheat.
What about the proteins ?
Complete proteins we use include pulses and legumes like classic and black chickpeas, yellow, red, green and black lentils but also every bean out there. Nuts and seeds also contain between 15 and 22 grams of protein per 100 grams.
In addition, we don’t use refined sugars nor ingredients that contain gluten. Overall a whole food, plant-based diet allows you to meet your nutritional needs by only eating natural, preferably organic, and minimally processed foods.
Does Clean Eating mean that I will lose weight?
There is a lot of confusion behind the word ‘diet’. The purpose of a plant-based diet is not to lose weight but to eat healthier and more sustainably with a higher intake of fibres, vitamins and minerals rather than ‘empty’ calories from highly sweetened foods.
Milk and dark chocolate is a good example to describe empty calories. Milk chocolate contains sugar, cacao butter and milk solids but very little cacao powder. On the other hand, dark chocolate derives from the ground cacao bean; it contains cacao or cacao bean powder, cacao butter and only a little amount of sugar. It is true that the two bars of chocolate contain the same amount of calories, however dark chocolate is healthier because rich in cacao content and therefore, of antioxidants. On the opposite side, milk chocolate does not offer the same health benefits because it is mainly refined sugar (more than 50% is sugar).
Part of our clean eating experience is to stop counting calories and concentrate on eating whole and plant-based produce, getting proteins from plants and eating whole food carbs also called complex carbs.
Do you want to find out more? Great, read more in our next issue.