I began clean eating a few years ago and was told to start out by cutting out gluten, soy, dairy, and corn. I was SO confused. To go from eating hundreds of grams of sugar, fast food, and frozen meals on a daily basis, to completely cutting out four major foods was overwhelming. Thinking back, I wish I could have begun by learning the basics first, before diving headfirst into a world I didn’t understand. That way I wouldn’t have spent over a year incorrectly preparing a restricted diet without seeing any results…
Luckily, years later, there is an abundance of great information available online to help you. To start off with, I’m going to teach you just a little bit about the most important knowledge to gain before beginning clean eating: learning to read labels!
Why should you eat clean and learn to read labels?
1. To begin with, understand that clean eating focuses a lot less on what traditional nutrition teaches (counting fat and calories) and instead focuses on choosing wholesome, natural, and minimally processed foods to support the body. Often, this shift not only causes weight loss but can help with many health issues.
2. Contrary to what you may have been taught, the FDA does NOT properly regulate food additives for their safety. A quick google search for “fda and food additives” can help you learn more!
3. Food manufacturers through marketing and misleading naming of food additives, can easily hide certain food additives that are perceived by the general public as unsafe. Check out http://www.msgtruth.org/ for an example of just one additive often marked in misleading ways.
What effects do unsafe food additives have and why?
I’m going to spare a long explanation here, as if you’re reading an article on clean eating, you probably already have a basic knowledge of how/why dangerous food additives can have negative effects on the body. However, as a quick summary, many unsafe food additives when consumed can cause inflammation in the body. Too much inflammation is at the root of most diseases and can cause anything from autism, to gastritis, to rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
What do you recommend avoiding?
After raiding through numerous reputable websites, here are the most commonly mentioned dangerous food additives:
• Trans Fats (Avoid the words: partially hydrogenated and shortening. Do not assume if a nutrition facts panel does not show any trans fat that the product does not contain any).
• Artificial Dyes and Flavorings (Avoid the words: artificial, FD&C, and any color names followed by a number).
• Artificial Sweeteners (Avoid these products and ingredients: Splenda, Equal, and Sweet ‘N Low, acesulfame K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, advantame, neotame, and names that appear similar).
• Monosodium Glutamate (Avoid these ingredients: msg, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, yeast extract, and names that appear similar).
• High Fructose Corn Syrup (Avoid these ingredients: hfcs, fructose, corn sugar).
• BHA and BHT (Avoid: E320, butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene).
• Sulfites (Avoid: sulphites, bisulphites, metabisulphites, sulfur dioxide, and names that appear similar).
• Carrageenan (Typically labeled as named).
• Excessive Amounts of Added Sugar
What’s the next step?
Now that you know why you should eat clean and what to avoid, come back next week to read Beginner’s Overview of Clean Eating Part 2: How to Avoid Unsafe Foods + Tips for Eating Cleaner and learn how to eat clean!
Begin the process today–learn just a little bit more about food labels, one day at a time!
Here’s to regaining our sparkle together,
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