"Make your calories count, but don't count your calories." -- Jared Koch, Clean Plates founder
This phrase has been making the rounds lately with nutritionists and dieticians alike. It's a move away from the calorie counting diets of yesteryear, and towards more conscious eating. The theory speaks to consuming "clean" food that doesn't contain artificial flavoring, coloring, sugar substitutes or chemical ingredients.
Dr. Andrew Weil, author Michael Pollan and Chef Alice Waters (all champions of clean eating) have been spreading the message that what you put into your body plays an even bigger role in your overall wellness than you realize.
For example, take meats. If the cuts are not labeled "grass-fed," that means the animals were probably factory-raised and fed a combination of GMO corn, grain, soy and other animal scraps pumped full of hormones to fatten them up for a faster growth cycle. Contrastingly, grass-fed livestock eat exactly what nature intended: high-quality grasses and forage. The meat is also likely to taste better, because the animals roam the pasture, whereas factory-raised meat spends its life in a small cage or overcrowded pen.
The movement toward clean eating has been gaining momentum as more information becomes available about the ways our food is grown, harvested and shipped. The Obamas even brought back the White House garden after 60 years to educate the public about the role food consumption plays in obesity and diabetes.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying you have to give up eating cheeseburgers or skip bacon at brunch. What I am saying is that you should be more conscious about where your food comes from. This understanding will help you make smarter choices and your body will thank you.
Here are four ways to ease into a clean-eating lifestyle, starting now:
- Shop the farmers market whenever possible. Local organic goods are in heavy rotation here. Make it your mission to know your farmer and ask questions -- don't just assume that everything they have for sale is clean food. Ask any questions you have about their farming and growing practices so you can make smart decisions about what to consume.
- Eat more vegetables. They lower your blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, help you lose weight and level out your moods... need I say more?
- Consider the fish entrée first. Before pasta, before meat, you should consider ordering the fish for its healthy omega-3 fatty acids and immunity boosting properties when dining at your favorite restaurant. Just make sure your dish is not fried or grilled -- baked or broiled is preferred!
- Commit to eating only grass-fed meat. For all the reasons we mentioned above, we're in favor of grass-fed meat. Not sure if it's on the menu? Ask your server!
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