So what does eating clean really mean?
Writing about a good diet is a tricky topic because we are all genetically designed differently.
I for example come from an Asian background and eating a high carbohydrate diet is beneficial and this is what I follow.
That way of life may not work for someone of Scandinavian descent.
However, there are some key items to keep in mind before starting a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to enjoy the journey to healthier habits, which means an opportunity to start eating clean.
The quality of the food we eat always matters. There is a right way and a wrong way to eating foods.
1. First, in order to optimise health it is important to eat slowly. If you rush through meals you are automatically giving the body an increased stress response. The food does not digest completely or easily. The food goes through and doesn’t assimilate as well.
2. Second, you need to know from where the food on your plate comes from.
Did the animal come from a typical animal environment, is it lean, clean, no anti-biotic, hormones or steroids? Basically no chemicals added to it. You need to eat as close to clean because our bodies act as the filters. Any chemicals or toxins that are in our diet then becomes part of us. That especially goes for water. If water has heavy metals then we are the filters for that.
3. Third, as a society we are not eating enough protein and therefore not getting amino acids that are the building blocks in the body. Think of something important, you need 20 of these essential building blocks and protein produces DNA. We all need consistency of these starting materials. I recommend eating protein first thing in the morning.
4. Fourth, you want to eat for health which means eating clean in order to heal the body.
I recommend starting with an elimination diet and know your allergy profile.
Eating Clean; Eliminate food allergies so digestion can work optimally. Learn the language of the body via the symptoms and eliminate certain foods.
Take the step by step approach and keep a journal. What does the body do when exposed to different foods?
When eliminating foods your body will go through a detox process. I suggest only eating hypoallergenic foods while you are testing a food type or group. You can introduce the food back one at a time after about 4-6 weeks and journal what happens; such as frequency of bowel movements and urination as well as mood, gas, belching and constipation.
These subtle things are reactions and hurdles that the body endures and will let you know that certain foods it can’t tolerate in your diet anymore.
When you challenge a food back into the diet journaling the reaction is very important. If the body is reactive to a food, typically an antibody is responding and inflammation occurs. It’s a fancy way of saying that the body is swelling. Tissues are drawing water in and can’t function optimally.
You can’t just do an elimination diet in a few days. The purpose is to know what food source that is causing you an aggravation and not allowing you to absorb your nutrients that is optimal.
An elimination diet is a drawn out process. A body system that is so overwhelmed by factors in life such as emotional status adds up. We travel, work obligation, and can’t get away from a particular food. Our diet fluctuates such as celebrating a birthday or Christmas season. The body doesn’t know the difference of the holidays and is equating all the time. We are an accumulation of effects of what we do in a day and we are always not always perfect.
Journaling is great way to see things happening in the body. Write symptoms and you can narrow it from there. Why am I eating? Are you hungry? Am I eating because I am bored or excited? Celebrating? Are you allowing food to be other than nourishing?
Are you using it to treat anxiety or depression and therefore food is being used as a crutch. What, when, how we feel. Did it make you feel full, tired, and happy?
We all have different relationship with food. Determine how it affects you and use food as medicine.
5. Fifth, is to follow an inflammatory diet. There are certain foods that our body do not have enzymes to process very well and leads to such things as GI problem. The main item on that list is dairy.
Gluten products is another that when made in a factory has the potential for cross contamination.
So it is hard to determine which grain you are sensitive to. Soy and corn are the other problematic foods and are endocrine disruptors.
Even though fried foods tastes delicious, it takes away from the nutritional quality of the food and should be not consumed often.
Another type of food that is reactive is pre-packaged foods.
Pre-packaged foods have extra sugar, sodium and preservative and makes it hard for your body to absorb the essential nutrients.
On your journey to eating clean avoiding the bad devil sugar is a must!
We have become so dependent on it, it’s as addictive as cocaine. It causes so many medical conditions and it’s inflammatory. By removing it from your diet you will feel so amazing afterwards.
6. Finally, I have zero tolerance for GMO foods, hydrogenated fat (high fructose corn syrup) and enriched flour.
You have one vehicle in this lifetime and it’s important to treat it as being valuable and precious to you every second of everyday.
Eat foods that are natural, high quality – therefore you are using these dense nutrients effectively. We are our diet and the environments. Rebalance, reset and eat slowly.
Ladies and gentlemen, eating clean takes time and we are all designed differently. It’s not a fast process and not possible to see immediate results.
As with anything worth keeping and having, it requires putting in the time and effort for maximum results.
Diet is number 2 of 5 key components essential for good health. Last month we looked at water. Next month we’ll look at sleep and it’s importance to wellbeing.
Dr. Sonya is a doctor of Chiropractic at Optimal Chiropractic in Ballincollig, Co. Cork.