How to Adopt a Clean Eating Lifestyle

Reducing your intake of processed foods has benefits that go beyond just avoiding harmful ingredients

Two Vancouver chefs give tips on how to make clean eating part of your life

With food sensitivities on the rise and a growing consciousness about what is in our food, many people are adopting what’s known as a clean eating diet based on the consumption of pure foods.

While clean eating may be a growing trend, many chefs and restaurants like Raincity Grill’s Nicholas Hipperson and chef and owner of Burdock and Co. Andrea Carlson have been serving clean food to their customers for years.

To help guide you along your journey with clean eating, we consulted Hipperson and Carlson for their tips on how to adopt this diet.

Eat whole foods

Whole foods are those eaten in their purest form, and even though their processed versions may be quicker and easier, processing is where nutrients are often lost.

Chef and owner of Vancouver’s Burdock & Co. Andrea Carlson said the easiest way to introduce whole foods into your diet is by eating raw fruits and vegetables.

“We have something on our menu right now that includes sunflower sprouts, raw fennel, cucumbers and shrimp and I think that is a good example of really easy whole food eating because everything is just in its natural state,” said Carlson.

Credit: iStock / amandagrand

Avoid processed foods

Eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods go hand in hand, but it’s hard to avoid all processed foods. Things like smoked and cured meats or jams and preserves are inherently processed.

Instead of buying them premade, Nicholas Hipperson, chef at Vancouver’s Raincity Grill, recommends buying the raw product and processing it yourself.

“Depending on the product we’re making we’ll produce it ourselves,” said Hipperson. “On our brunch menu if we want to use a prosciutto or mortadella we will buy the sub primal cut or whatever it is and make the product ourselves rather than buying something premade or processed.”

Eliminate refined sugars

As more and more people seek out refined sugar alternatives, new options have appeared on grocery store shelves making it easier to choose purer options.

“Honey is a great sugar substitute,” said Carlson. “It has a much nicer flavour with fruity and floral notes and gives more depth than normal sugars. If you’re looking to make something that is densely sweet, like a dessert, people use things like dates to get that rich dense sugar quality coming through. For us we stick to honey because it’s a local product and quite available.”

Cook your own meals

At the end of a long day of work, cooking a meal can seem daunting, but when you’re in charge of your meal preparation you can better control what goes into your food, including salt, sugar and fat content. Even though cooking can evoke the idea of slaving away in a kitchen, Carlson said it doesn’t have to.

“When I’m hungry, like last night after service, I had a tomato salad and that was dinner,” she said. “You cut up the tomato and top it with feta cheese. The fruits and vegetables that motivate me to cook and to eat are so beautiful and tasty they don’t require a lot of cooking or preparation.”

Eat five or six small meals a day

Eating five or six small meals a day helps you to feel satisfied throughout the day, and reduces the chances you’ll crave a bag of chips mid-day. But preparing five or six small meals a day is easier when you cook with fresh ingredients that don’t need a lot of enhancement.

“I would definitely recommend using your local farmers market,” said Hipperson. “We’ve got the best growing season in the country and there is such a wide array of products you can pick up. It’s the optimal ripeness, and it’s in season and fresh.”