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Myths Debunked: A Clear Guide To Eating Clean

In these uncertain times, it’s important to remember there are two things we can still control, and they are our physical and mental health.

And the key to maintaining both is through our diet. Not only does eating right make us physically healthier, but it can also make us calmer, happier and overall better equipped to deal with whatever situation we’re thrown in. Which is definitely something we’re all in need of right now.

So, where to begin? Well, an easy place to start is by debunking some of the most common misconceptions about clean eating. Because, once you have a clear idea of what clean eating isn’t, it’s then much easier to understand what it is.

To help do this, we enlisted the help of chef and holistic nutrition coach Simon Favorito. In his role as head chef at New South Wales’ Billabong Retreat, Favorito uses only plant-based, seasonal, organic and biodynamic wholefoods. Ahead, he shares some clean eating truths.

Burnt food isn’t necessarily bad for you

We’ve all left food in the oven or on the stove for a few minutes too long. And while our go-to is to slide the charred remnants straight in the bin, Favorito advises us to reconsider.

He says that though burnt food has long been thought to be carcinogenic, the studies that found this are questionable. And, in fact, a 2015 study concluded there is no substantial evidence that burnt food contributes to a variety of cancers.

“As a food lover and chef, this was pleasing to hear because when you char and caramelise foods, a beautiful taste and flavour experience called the Maillard reaction is created,” Favorito says. “It’s most commonly associated with roasting potatoes and toasting bread, seeds and nuts.”

Fasting isn’t always dangerous

Fasting is an ancient practice carried out for health, healing and spiritual enlightenment. The biggest misconception about it is that it’s dangerous. And while it certainly can be, if done correctly, it doesn’t have to be.

Favorito himself often conducts fasts, and has completed some that have lasted as long as 10 days.

“I can say that reducing my intake of food had many amazing and positive effects on my body, energy levels, strength, endurance and state of mind,” he says, noting that extended long-term fasting should always be facilitated by an experienced person or health professional.

“Easy ways to explore fasting can be as simple as skipping a meal or replacing it with a cold-pressed juice or herbal tea,” he says.

Some spices are stronger when combined

When it comes to spices, something Favorito often uses in his cooking, not all are created equal. Though most of them have benefits, interestingly, some have much greater benefits than others, especially when used in certain combinations, he says.

clean eating

One example is turmeric. Though always giving off anti-inflammatory qualities, when turmeric is used with black pepper, it becomes 2000 per cent more potent.

“By combining ginger with a little black pepper and consuming it before meals, it stimulates the digestive system,” says Favorito.

Quinoa shouldn’t be cooked as-is

Like most, you’re probably cooking quinoa straight out of the box. Which, according to Favorito, isn’t allowing you to fully reap its benefits.

Instead, he suggests soaking it for several hours before rinsing it and then cooking it. “This helps remove the phytic acid within the grains, which, if not removed, can disrupt digestion and inhibit the absorption of essential nutrients,” he says. “Your quinoa will taste a lot nicer and your body will love you for it.”

Pay attention to the temperature of food

Most of us also pay little attention to the temperature of our food. Which, Favorito says, is doing ourselves a big disservice.

clean eating

“Our bodies have an optimal internal temperature and when we eat foods that are either hotter or cooler than this temperature, the body quickly works to bring the food either down or up to meet this internal temperature,” he says. “This process can slow down or stop digestion.”

In this way, the temperature of the food is crucial in maintaining digestive health and nutrient absorption.

So, how do we go out getting our food at the right temperature? “A basic guide is to remember that if your food is much cooler or hotter than your body temperature, your body is going to have to work harder to digest it.

“Eat your food close to your body temperature and, when eating high protein foods and meats, have them slightly hotter to ensure you have the best possible digestion.”

(All images: Billabong Retreat / supplied)

Published 25 March, 2020