We’ve given you the low-down on what clean living means in our latest blog post, but is it easy to adapt to clean? The best way to ensure these new habits remain sustainable in the long run is to identify which are the clean living changes that are easy for you to make and start with them first.
One of the ways you can is by reflecting on your eating habits. Ask yourself these questions:
“Do I think about the importance of wholesome, fresh, and nutritious food when preparing meals for myself and my family?”
“Am I always buying takeaways or packaged foods because they are easy?”
“Do I take the time to read the nutrition label when buying a packaged product?”
If answering these questions leads you to asking more questions about food and nutrition, then you might need some tips on starting out with clean foods and clean eating.
Here’s a quick guide on how to identifying what clean food means:
1. Focus on whole foods
An easy way to identify clean foods is that they are closest to their natural state. Majority of your diet should include a variety of fresh food such as fruits and vegetables, lean meat and poultry, and eggs. Choosing organic produce can also be the next step to clean, whole foods as they are free from pesticides.
2. Choose unrefined over refined
Unrefined foods go through less processing than refined foods. Whole grains like rolled oats and brown rice are great additions to a healthy diet. Natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup can be considered “clean sugars” as compared to refined white sugar. However, all types of sugars are metabolised in the body in the same way, so it does not mean that one is healthier than the other. Moderation is still key.
3. Look for reduced sodium alternatives
Lots of Asian dishes involve soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, stock cubes or a medley of all. While they give a burst of umami to some of our favourite dishes, they are unfortunately one of the highest sources of added sodium in our diet. Added sodium can also be hidden canned soups, bottled salad dressings, and luncheon meats. The National Nutrition Survey in 2018 found that the average Singaporean consumed around 9g of sodium per day. That’s almost two times the recommended daily amount of 5g!
It’s definitely hard to remove them from your diet straight away, but try using reduced sodium varieties or decreasing the amount in your cooking. Herbs, spices, and powders made from 100% vegetables are also a great way to increase flavour.
4. Read the food labels
Sometimes processed or packaged foods can be handy to have. However, always make sure to check the ingredients list. The shorter the list, the better! When it comes to packaged food, the ingredients should be minimal, and familiar to you. That means there aren’t any unnecessary preservatives, artificial colours or flavourings. Sometimes ingredients like added sugar can have multiple names too. To avoid getting tricked, if you see a word that you can’t pronounce or don’t know, it’s best to look for another alternative.
Another thing to note is that the ingredients are usually listed in decreasing order according to their amounts in the product. So, if sugar is listed as the first ingredient, then that would be what makes up most of the product. Knowing how to read the food labels can help you be more aware of what’s in a product so you can make the most nutritious choice!
Now that you know what clean eating is all about, it’s time to start on your new clean living adventure! Healthy habits should be enjoyable and sustainable in the long term, so don’t feel like you have to make all of these clean eating swaps at once. Pick one habit that you feel is the most manageable for you and your family according to your lifestyle and work on that first!
Download a list of clean food here!
Adlyn Abdul Halim