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Bring in the new year with tips for eating and living clean
life whole food

Maybe you have a business to run, a degree to complete, a trip to take, children to raise, or any combination of those or similar duties.
As a result of the often chaotic nature of life, we look for simple ways to help manage our time and resources in the most efficient ways possible.
One way to do that is to take advantage of prepackaged food items at the grocery store. Not only does this help reduce the preparation and cooking time of meals, but it also minimizes the element of meal planning.
However, what we gain in time, we often lose in nutritional value and quality. By eating clean, we can improve our nutrition and reduce the amount of trans fat, sugar and salt we consume.
Eating clean is a lifestyle based on reducing the complexity of the ingredients consumed in an attempt to promote and achieve an optimal level of personal health, well-being and nutrition. Basically, those who eat clean avoid processed foods.
Processed foods are commercially prepared or manufactured items designed for easy consumption. Examples of such foods are deli meats, some baked goods, soda, potato chips, sugary cereals and breakfast items, canned fruit in heavy syrup, white flour products, some frozen foods (chicken nuggets for example) and foods with artificial ingredients, sugars and preservatives. Typically, these types of foods are found at the center of a grocery store or market rather than the perimeter where produce and fresh food items are displayed. In general, processed foods contain higher levels of sodium, sugar, preservatives or other unnatural ingredients. While these foods may be inexpensive and easy, they often run cheap on quality and nutritional value. As a result, we consume far less fiber, fewer vitamins, and more trans fats, sugar and salt. If these types of foods make up most of a person’s diet, overall health and well-being can become compromised.
While it is not possible or even realistic to cut out every single processed ingredient in our lives, there are ways to eat clean without sacrificing time, money or health. Here are a few ideas to help achieve this goal:
Eat as close to the earth as possible. This means choosing whole foods over a version of a food. For example, select fresh or frozen fruit (without added sugar) over fruit juice cocktails or sweetened, canned fruit. Or, choose lean proteins such as chicken breasts or lean fish rather than processed lunch meats or preseasoned or marinated meats.
Go for the grains. When shopping for bread, pastas or rice, choose complex carbohydrates that are rich in whole grains and high in fiber. To ensure the quality of the product, check the food label. The first ingredient should indicate “whole grain” or “whole wheat.” Avoid products that say “enriched” or “bleached.”
Less is more. Consider the number of ingredients you would need to make homemade breads, crackers, granola or any other baked-good such as a cake or pie. Would you need less than 10? More than 50? The food label on any product provides an X-ray for the consumer to examine prior to buying the product. A food label that lists a significant number of ingredients for a relatively simple food should be questioned.
Beware of chemically charged foods. Also check the food label for chemical ingredients such as sodium nitrite, aspartame or other foreign content. Again, ask yourself if you would need all those ingredients to make it yourself. If the answer is no, move on to the next product.
Hydrate. Hydration is always critical. Whenever possible, consume an adequate amount of water. The recommendation is eight cups of water per day. Not only does drinking water hydrate the body, but consuming an adequate amount can silence cravings for pop or other sugar-heavy drinks. Try adding slices of lemon, lime and orange to water. Doing so boosts the flavor and sweetness of plain water.
Favor healthy fats. Fat is a necessary part of the diet; however, for fat to be a dietary benefit we must choose the right kinds of fats from clean food sources. This means choosing foods low in saturated fats and avoiding trans fats (hydrogenated oils). For example, look for fats that are unsaturated and that are found in foods such as avocados, raw (instead of roasted) nuts (walnuts, pistachios and almonds), natural peanut butter and olive oil.
Eating a variety of clean, healthy fats benefits good cholesterol levels (HDL) and supports vital functions in the body.