You may well have heard of the ‘clean’ eating craze, or about the benefits of whole foods, but what is counted as ‘clean’, and what is processed?
Any food that has been altered in some way during preparation is technically processed, but most types of processed food are those that are found in the freezer aisle, ready meals, some breads, deli meats, and cookies and cakes.
Advocates of clean eating say that a diet is healthiest when the food consumed is in its most natural state. Processing sometimes removes good ingredients, such as with white flour or white rice. These foods have been ‘refined’, meaning that the bran and germ have been removed, which also removes fiber and other nutrients. At other times, processing may involve adding unhealthy trans fats, sugar, salt, and preservatives to food.
If you are thinking about cutting out processed foods, your body will need to make some adjustments. Here are some things that may happen when you start eating clean.
1. You Could Feel Tired or Irritated
If you ate a lot of processed food to begin with, you could feel more tired or irritable when you remove them from your diet. Cutting out sugar or coffee suddenly could lead to headaches, but none of these symptoms last long. Your body will adjust and you will start feeling normal again.
2. You may Start Thinking Foods are too Sweet or Salty
When you cut back on sugar and salt, your body will probably start to enjoy the whole stuff, but it can take a while for your taste buds to adjust. If you try processed food again after a few weeks, you may find that they taste too salty or sweet.
It does take time to make the transition to a less-processed lifestyle, so don’t be discouraged if it seems a bit hard at first. Start off by reading the ingredients labels, and avoid any foods that contain trans fats, or high levels or salt or sugar.
3. Your Digestive System may Need Time to Adjust
Your stomach needs time to settle into a new diet, and it can sometimes feel a bit strange. If you didn’t eat much fiber before, you may find you have some gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating and loose stools.
Your body will soon adjust to these beneficial changes, and your gut will be a lot healthier.
4. You Could Lose Weight
Giving up processed foods could see your weight drop over time, as you no longer eat calories from sugar and fats.
5. You May Feel Energized
You don’t always have to wait a while to feel the benefits from removing processed foods from your diet. You could feel more alert and focused, have a better mood, or sleep better.
If you are struggling to cut out all of your favorite processed treats, don’t completely deprive yourself. Have a little of what you fancy, or you may find that if you restrict it, you’ll end up binging on it later.