Clean eating: How to identify toxic foods in your pantry

“A healthy outside starts from the inside” – Robert Urich

Today I’d like to talk about clean eating and how to spot toxic foods in your food cupboard. Why? Because we are what we eat. In the same way we look after our body through exercise we also need to look after it internally through what we fuel it with – your body is your most precious asset.

I got introduced to clean eating while being a child (back then, I didn’t know the term was clean eating, though). My mum always made sure we ate a balanced and healthy diet. Actually, few years ago she started researching nutrition and alkaline foods. Now I can say that she has one of the healthiest (and most balanced) lifestyles I’ve ever seen. I truly believe this is one of the reasons why she is doing so well going through her cancer treatment and chemo – her body is responding to the treatment better than most people and I’m 100% sure it’s due to all the prep she did without knowing it before getting sick. Now, as you can imagine, nutrition is a priority for her.

Why clean eating?

Clean eating allows you to take control of what you put into your body to fuel it. High-quality, whole and ideally organic foods replace those covered in toxins, pesticides, engineered or food produced in massive factories.

Clean eating isn’t a diet, it’s a life-style choice. It emphasises the quality of the foods you eat, not how much you eat or when you eat. Actually, long before the days of processed foods, pesticides, hormones and GMOs, people ate food directly from the source with minimal processing. Not so long ago – for example, my grandparents used to have a vegie and trees garden (my dad’s parents) and animals (my mum’s parents). They produced the food the consumed: vegetables, fruits, cheese, meat, etc.

The highly-processed foods that are in the shelves of your local grocery store or supermarket are loaded with calories, added sugars and ingredients that most of us can’t pronounce (and lack many beneficial nutrients). These foods are linked to obesity, low-energy levels and an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and in some cases, cancer. Many of these low-quality foods are also treated with pesticides or contain genetically modified ingredients, both of which carry potential health risks. And don’t forget the significant environmental toll.

Clean eating nurtures your body with healthy and nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed and hormone-free meats, etc. Consistently eating clean food fills your body with vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein and healthy fats. That means that it improves heart and brain health, assist with weight management, build a stronger immune system and increase energy levels – just to name some of the benefits.

The first thing I noticed when I started eating clean was that my energy levels went up! I always thought I eat healthy but still had lots of foods that weren’t ideal such as pasta, processed meats, coffee, dairy, alcohol, etc. When I decided to try a month of clean eating I knew it was a good choice but had no idea of the amazing change that my body was going to experiment! I felt more energetic, with clear mind, my afternoon tiredness after lunch disappeared, etc. I loved it!

How do you eat clean?

Let’s have a look at a few things you can do to make your transition to clean eating as easy as possible and how to identify what are those foods you need to get rid of your pantry:

  1. Assess your pantry (and fridge) and eliminate all foods that don’t serve your body. When I did my 30 day clean eating for the first time, I started by eliminating most of the packaged food such as chips, crackers, sauces, biscuits, etc., and all processed foods – they can be full of preservatives and chemicals that are not good at all.
  2. Spend most of your time at the supermarket filling your trolley with fruits and vegetables. If you can afford organic foods —especially meat, fruits and vegetables— go for it.
  3. Make sure you know what you are buying. Read food labels, check the ingredient list and avoid any product with ingredients that you’re not familiarised with or can’t pronounce. The fewer the ingredients, the better. Also, check for added sugars listed under carbohydrates.
  4. Cook your own food. For example, pasta sauce normally has lots of added sugar. Why don’t you make your own pasta sauce at home? It’s very easy and in this way you know what you are eating. The same works for your smoothies, bread, etc. – everything really.

I decided to take a further step and eliminated any product that contained dairy, gluten and GMOs from my pantry (and also alcohol and coffee for a full month!). I have to be real – it wasn’t always easy and sometimes I made exceptions: it’s very difficult to eat clean when you go out! However, setting up healthy (and clean) nutrition habits is the best choice I’ve ever made. Now, when I’m off track my body feels it straight away, so I try to be caring and loving to my body and give it what I know it needs.

The result of my 4 weeks detox thorugh eat cleaning was very positive. During my first week I felt tired (normal effect while your body is eliminating toxins) and then I started feeling more energetic, healthier and happier, and I even lost a little bit of weight that wasn’t planned. I loved it so much that told my partner that I was going to carry on eating clean and avoiding certain products such as milk and coffee and reduce my alcohol consumption to a minimum. Now we both make an effort when cooking to make sure we cook whole clean meals full of nutrients with those ingredients that fuel our bodies.

Before I say goodbye, I want to make clear that clean eating is not a strategy for losing weight. It’s a lifestyle choice that can help with the weight lose. However, plenty of foods that are considered clean are high in calories and don’t help shed extra fat so if what you want is to lose weight you need to eat clean and make sure you are eating the food that is right for your goal.

With lots of love,

Laia x

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