By guest author and friend, Katrina Loop. Katrina is a yoga instructor, nutritionist, physiotherapist, health & wellness expert and founder of Honey Health.Nutrition.Yoga based in Sydney, Australia.

Clean Eating – What exactly is it, and why should I eat clean? 

Chances are you have heard people throwing around the words “clean eating,” but maybe you are not really sure what it is or why you should bother eating clean. If this is you, read on. If you already know the low-down on eating clean but you would like a fresh recipe idea, just skip to Honey’s recipe section to check out the featured “Clean eating chicken salad” recipe. I cooked up this little number the other night and it went down a treat!

What exactly is “clean eating”?

Clean eating is about consuming food as close to its natural state as possible. It is not a fad diet or a quick fix and it does not require calculations of any kind. It is very easy to adopt (so you can breathe a sigh of relief!). Clean eating is a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation that if adopted will help you on your journey to improved well-being through nutrition.

Convinced? I hope so. Here is the low-down on how to eat clean:

What to avoid:

  • Processed foods
  • Foods high in preservatives
  • Foods with lots of added sugar
  • Foods with high levels of bad fats (all trans fats and some saturated fats)
  • Foods that have been stripped of their nutritional value and/or have been pumped full of six-syllable chemicals (i.e. “enriched” flour)
  • Genetically modified foods (GMOs)
  • Foods laden with pesticides
  • Artificial sweeteners (i.e. Splenda)
  • Artificial food coloring (i.e. Red 40, Yellow 5)

What to include:

  • Unrefined, whole-grains
  • Lots of fresh, local, organic (where possible) fruits and vegetables
  • Free-range and grass-fed meats and dairy (if you choose to eat dairy)
  • More vegetable-based meals than meat-based meals
  • An abundance of water or other no-calorie drinks such as herbal teas (NOT diet soda!)
  • Natural, healthy fats such as: nuts, avocados, flax, seeds, olive oil, and organic coconut oil
  • In-season food options
  • Make healthy cooking choices, such as baking, steaming, and sautéing whenever possible

The benefits of eating clean

By avoiding chemicals, preservatives, and refined sugars, you are cutting down on the likelihood of developing serious health conditions. Clean eating also helps you maintain a healthy weight, and it might just help you shed a few pounds!

Other benefits you will enjoy by eating clean:

  • Improved immune function and energy levels
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Blood sugar balance
  • Better sleep and mood
  • General increase in well-being

On a final note, clean eating is not rocket science. It is about learning to simplify things which can be a welcome change in today’s society. So dive in and commit to a change in diet that will change your life.

Clean Eating Chicken Salad

What you’ll need:

1 cup of mixed purple and white cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup cooked quinoa
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped mint
3 cups mixed lettuce
1 cup Tuscan cabbage or kale
3 tablespoons chopped roasted cashews
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 small butternut squash, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
4 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 pound organic chicken breast

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lime

What to do:

Cook brown rice and quinoa according to packet instructions and set aside to cool.

Slice the chicken breast in half horizontally and dust each side with turmeric powder.

Heat half the coconut oil in a pan and place chicken in. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side then flip. Once cooked through, set aside to cool slightly, then  thinly slice.

Using the same pan put the remaining coconut oil in the pan and add the butternut squash. Turn after 2-3 minutes of cooking and do the same for the other side. Remove from pan.

Place all ingredients apart from cashews and dressing into a bowl and mix through.

Combine all dressing ingredients, whisk then pour dressing over salad.

Turn salad over a couple of times before sprinkling cashews on top to serve.

Enjoy!

Katrina looking comfortable in “King Pigeon” pose.

Image credits: http://honeyhny.com