From your Instagram feed to the latest issues of top lifestyle magazines, the most trending buzzword is “clean eating.”
Among health-conscious consumers, it’s not a new eating trend, but it has hooked a newbie like me who wants to upgrade her health and overall state of mind.
Clean eating is a very simple concept of tweaking eating habits, and was introduced in the 60s by hippies. It is not about eating fewer calories or torturing yourself with numerous diets. It’s more of an idea: to be mindful of the food you eat off your plate, and how it got there.
Clean eating is about consuming whole foods, fresh foods and “down-to-earth” foods.
Everything that is naturally grown, unprocessed or minimally processed, and prepared as true to its original form as possible, can be included in your clean eating routine.
Over four months ago, I reconsidered my eating habits and switched to clean eating. Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t become one of those overly obsessed vegan girls who turns her nose away from anything inorganic and raw.
Now, thinking twice before putting something into my mouth has really changed my views on health, eating habits and my lifestyle in general.
Letting go of any judgment and allowing myself to be a beginner, I slowly introduced clean eating into my life, step-by-step.
I won’t go into detail about clean eating and its rules, but rather, I will share the fair reasons why you should consider eating clean, fresh products while in your 20s.
1. Form your habits wisely.
Thorough research, and clinical studies of the process of eating, clearly shows health habits begin developing early in life and, once solidly established, are extremely hard to shift.
Maintaining healthy eating habits is vital at a young age.
Professor of psychology at Santa Clara University, and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, Thomas G. Plante, PhD, says:
"Take health habits seriously at a young age. It will make a difference in the long term for health, well-being and longevity.”
Indeed, your 20s is the best time to start watching what you eat because, by this age, you’ve tried plenty of junk and processed food. You’ve obtained more self-control, and you are now more conscious about your looks and overall well-being.
2. Prepare your body for pre-maternity and maternity.
Women these days have become more independent and career-oriented.
The NCHS data proves it, showing that over the last years, there were more than nine times as many first births to women aged 35 and older than there were 40 years ago. For those under 30, and particularly those under 20 years old, first births have actually declined.
As we see from these stats, for many women, their 20s become a good time to prepare their bodies for a pregnancy that may occur later in their 30s.
It’s important to understand how establishing clean eating habits not only cleanses your body from GMO products and pesticides, but also prepares your body for child bearing and nursing.
3. Start taking responsibility for your well-being.
When we were in college, pizza lunches and late dinners at a nearby diner were unavoidable. Healthy food is expensive for a student and less accessible on campus.
In our 20s, many of us have jobs, and we no longer depend on pocket money from parents.
We do grocery shopping ourselves, and debate between buying produce at a local farmer’s market or a convenience store. We choose restaurants ourselves, and some of us even cook for ourselves.
It's high time we develop healthy eating habits and start thinking about our future health.
4. Extend your living by taking small steps.
Embracing clean eating and knocking off all diets, you are on the right path to longevity.
Your staples should be foods that boast nutrition and balance, and are without artificial ingredients and processing.
The oldest woman in the world, Jeanne Calment, lived to the age of 122, and she shared the secrets of her longevity, besides winning a perfect gene lottery. Being French, she consumed a lot of red wine, olive oil and dark chocolate. (We all know how naturally good these are in France.)
Of course, she balanced these products with local foods from her small hometown, Arles, where she lived all her life.
5. Help your body to adapt while it’s young and flexible.
In your 20s, your body is still flexible enough to adapt to change, whether it’s a slight alteration or a drastic shift from fast food to clean eating.
Don’t expect the switch to eating clean to happen within a week; it may take weeks and even months.
Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, studied the habit formation processes. Her research showed that on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.
How long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
Don't give up if clean eating doesn’t become your lifestyle within a couple of months; continue with persistence if you believe this is right for you.
6. Enlighten and change your environment.
How about inviting your friends to your house for a Saturday night dinner instead of going out to a bar or a restaurant?
Use the opportunity to shop at local food markets on weekends and treat your friends to fresh, self-made food. Here, you will know what ingredients you use, where produce comes from and the way food is prepared.
Since I started eating clean, my environment has become more curious about what I eat and how I cook everything. I’m always happy to share my recipes and hear my friends’ positive feedback once they try cooking with clean products instead of ordering pizza.
When people see you happy, healthy and self-aware, they want to know your secrets, one of which is eating clean, fresh, unprocessed food.
7. Obtain self-awareness and balance in life.
Who cares what people say about your eating habits? The most important thing is that you care.
Clean eating has helped me to establish a certain schedule of meal time, grocery shopping spots and workout routine. When all these little aspects of life come together like a puzzle, you start feeling more aware and confident of what you are doing and who you are becoming.
More energy and vitality will rush into your life. You eventually become what you eat.
8. Save money on food.
Buying snacks literally eats a huge chunk of a food budget, so just track it. If you plan wisely what you are going to eat next week and stock up with fresh fruit and veggies at a local farmer’s market ahead of time, it will save quite a bit of unnecessary expenses during the week.
Prep ahead and plan what you will eat throughout the day; that’s the number one rule of eating clean.
9. Explore the limits of your creativity.
Many would think clean eating means cooking crazy dishes from products you can’t pronounce names of.
Just the other way round, cooking healthy dishes from fresh fruit and vegetables can’t be more simple, fun and inspiring.
Experiment with products and their combinations; invent your own special smoothie or salad; make your own healthy snack mix out of nuts and seeds of your choice.
Now, you are not limited to a fast food chain menu or supermarket food options. Use your creativity and listen to your taste buds.
10. Start a new lifestyle and later establish it in your own family.
To wrap up all the reasons, just think about when you have a family of your own: Who will your children look up to? You!
You will be the example your children will want to follow, and who your spouse will follow. How wonderful it would be to pass on your healthy eating habits to the following generation.
When you start making smart food choices in your 20s, eventually they root themselves into your lifestyle and influence your mindset.