The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

February 6, 2013

Amanda Stone: Eating clean is no gimmick

JOPLIN, Mo. — We've passed another challenging milestone. Super Bowl Sunday has become an excuse for people to get together and eat terrible treats, myself included.

I spent the event with a dear friend who was using her pregnancy as an excuse to drag out the deep fryer. I won't pretend that it wasn't amazing.

I don't feel terribly guilty, because I eat well most of the time. I practice what has become known as "clean eating."

There's no concrete definition, but for me it means eating and preparing food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Clean eating has become popular and is at the heart of the real food movement. Yes, there's a movement. I can't speak for everyone involved with this movement, but it seems we're just nerds disguised with kale and quinoa. We're food nerds. Join us.

Unlike popular diet trends of the past, clean eating makes sense. I've spent my entire life watching what I eat, whether that meant fat-free, sugar-free, meat-free, carb-free -- you name it. Finally, I get it. It's scary at first. Suddenly, it's OK to eat fats, sugars and carbs. The key is to eat them in their natural form. Fat comes mainly from nuts and dairy with a little meat. Sugar comes from fruit and honey, and carbohydrates come from whole grains. It's really pretty simple.

What we eat affects our bodies. I know, because I was the fat kid. My first memory of realizing I was chubby was in preschool. I was 4 years old.

I was terribly jealous of my best friend, because she got to wear the flashy multi-colored leotard for our dance number in the spring program, and I had to wear a boring red-and-white-striped outfit. I was sure it was because she was thin and I was not.

When I look at my sweet 4-year-old daughter's soft, round tummy, I think about that. I hate that body image awareness starts so early. So, I do my best to keep my thoughts about my body to myself. I tell her she's beautiful, but I tell her I'm beautiful, too. Then I lead by example.

Clean eating and clean eating for weight loss are pretty similar. It's all about moderation. There's no diet, no fasts, no tricks. Eat real food, but keep your portions under control. Pay attention to serving sizes. The recipes I share with you usually follow the rules of clean eating. I say "usually" because I cheat. Sometimes I eat junk. I don't want to live my life counting calories, I just want my family to be healthy. So, we eat real food. The fat kid still lives inside me, but I keep her at bay with exercise and real food. Usually.

It's easy to swap ingredients in regular recipes to make them cleaner. Here are some recipes that already have the stamp of approval from Clean Eating Magazine.

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