Ever heard the saying, “when your body is hungry it wants nutrients, not calories?” Many think the purpose of food is to keep us full or worse… to keep us entertained. But really, the point of eating is to fuel and nourish our bodies. When you shift your mindset and start to focus on clean eating, it’s amazing how the body and the skin will respond.
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is the practice of creating a diet filled with whole foods in their most natural state. Clean diets exclude processed foods (those that come in a box or bag) and refined sugars and focus on incorporating more nutrients. It’s a simplified way to look at food. Eating clean means you only eat foods that nourish your body and avoid those that don’t. But just because I say it’s simple, I know that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy to get started. The thought of cutting out your current favorite foods can feel intimidating.
It’s important to look at creating a clean diet as a marathon and not a sprint. You don’t have to start a strict cleanse to begin eating clean. You just have to start incorporating more good-for-you foods into your routine while eliminating unhealthy ones. Once you start doing this, you’ll notice how much better you feel and how much healthier your skin looks. Trust me, once you notice the difference, you won’t want to go back to the way you ate before.
Foods to Include
Adding more nutrients to your diet will boost your overall gut and skin health. Eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to do so. Aim to eat at least six servings (about three cups) of vegetables daily. Some of the best skin-boosting veggies to incorporate are broccoli, kale, lettuce, asparagus, onions, avocados and zucchini. The key is to eat the rainbow: Consume a variety of colored fruits and vegetables as well healthy fats like olive oil and avocados.
When it comes to fruit, you want to be cautious that you’re not eating too many sweet fruits with lots of natural sugar. However, you can enjoy one to three servings per day of berries, apples and oranges. Some not-so-sugary fruits to include are avocados and olives. It’s important to chose organic fruits and vegetables, especially those from the “Dirty Dozen” so that you can avoid toxic pesticides that are damaging to your health and gut microbiome.
Another way to take a step toward a clean diet is to include one to three servings of clean animal proteins each day. This includes things like wild fish, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and pastured pork. Clean meat can be expensive. One way to reduce the cost is to buy your meat from local farms or farmers markets.
Pro Tip: Because our DNA and microbiomes are unique to us, we’ll all thrive on varied clean diets. For some, eating a plant-based diet is what works best for them. For others, their bodies feel best consuming clean meat. Regardless of whether you eat meat or don’t, consuming more whole, plant-based foods will help provide your body with the optimal nutrients it needs.
In addition to the foods you eat, it’s also important to consume clean, filtered water each day. I highly recommend using a water filtration system that filters out common things found in local drinking water like chlorine and heavy metals – all of these harsh chemicals can wreak havoc on your health and skin. (My favorite brand is by Aquasana.) For more on why drinking filtered water is really important and to see what’s in your local water, visit this site.
Foods to Avoid
In her book “Clean Skin Starts from Within,” The Spa Doctor Trevor Cates sites sugar and dairy as the two main foods that lead to skin inflammation. Most Americans already eat way more sugar than they need each day, which can lead to liver disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease… the list goes on. When you limit your sugar intake over time, your body will eventually stop craving it. Eliminating dairy is beneficial too, because not only can dairy cause inflammation, it often contains hormones that can create imbalances in the body. And hormonal imbalances can cause a host of issues and worsen skin conditions.
Along with those culprits, Cates also recommends limiting your intake of things like grains, alcohol and caffeine. None of these foods nourish the body or skin and therefore may do more harm than good. Think of it like trying to maintain a high-performance car with cheap synthetic oil. The car knows the difference and will stop running optimally and will eventually break down. Our bodies will do the same.
Again, it may take time to completely eliminate these foods from your diet, and that’s OK. Take baby steps and be more intentional about which foods you’re allowing to fuel your body. Once you begin eliminating these foods, your cravings for them will likely subside.
Can’t Get Enough?
To learn more about why your diet is so important to your overall health, check out this post all about the gut microbiome. You can also connect with me on Instagram, the place where I share daily beauty and wellness tips.
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As an Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Duke Integrative Medicine trained health and wellness coach, I love helping women create sustainable long term changes with their health so they can feel their best inside and out. Together we’ll optimize your health utilizing a whole-body approach, working on things like eating more clean whole foods, reducing your inflammation, and lowering your stress so you can thrive, experience more joy, and achieve your full potential.
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