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Eating Clean versus Stealth Health: Which trend is for you?

Eating Clean and Stealth Health are two buzz words that are popping up everywhere from the internet, to food shows, to printed media such as 'Men's Health' and 'Women's Weekly'. So just what do these two terms mean and which option is best for you?

Well, simply put, Eating Clean means eating more of the best and healthiest options in EACH of the food groups including meat, and eating less of the not so healthy ones. It's predominantly plant based, uttilizes whole, unprocessed foods, free of artificial ingredients and opting for organic whenever possible.

There are three primary schools of thought when it comes to Eating Clean. One is aim to remove all chemicals from your diet and body, focusing not on weight loss or control, but on general health. People who prescribe to this form of eating clean, avoid processed food like its the plague and only eat when the need arises, or three times daily, whichever comes first.

The second school of thought is probably the most common. In this group, there are six basics: i) eat lots of plants, as much as possible, as fresh and as organic as possible; ii) include only meats that are free range and hormone free; iii) enjoy lots of grains that haven't been broken down such as quinoa and brown rice; iv) READ LABELS. if a product has more than 3-6 ingredients listed or if you can't pronouce an ingredient, lay it down and walk away. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and sugar; and v), consume 5-6 small meals per day, including snacks.

The third school of thought pretty much follows the same basics as previously mentioned with the exception of the number of meals you consume per day. People who prescribe to this group believe that 5-6 meals a day keeps insulin levels spiking and therefore predispose you to developing diabetes. This theory is as yet to be proven or disproven.

Stealth Health, on the other hand, has to do with sneaking in items or preparations that are better for you, including decreasing portion sizes. I have several little things I do on a regular basis to 'healthy-up' the food I prepare for my family, starting with the obvious things like using low fat, low salt ingredients. And if there's one kitchen gadget that cannot go without mention on this subject it's the T-Fal Actifry. I can actually cook enough crispy delicious homefries or sweet potato fries for my whole family in 30 minutes using only 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and yes...they are crispy AND stealthy!

Some other ideas as to how to sneak in healthier items that might inspire you are:

- I add ground flax seed to my ground beef when making burgers or meatloaf, as a binder. Everyone always asks 'what's that yummy almost woodsy taste'...I tell 'em 'basil'!

- Add wheat germ to pancakes and muffins, or try using it as a sprinkle on top of a parfait made with fresh fruit and kids thought it was nuts for years!

- Add beans to your tacos

- Add fresh spinach to your lasagna and spaghetti dishes

- We've all had chocolate cake made with zucchini but have you tried sweet potato in your Spice Cake?

- Fresh berries in your pancake syrup

- low sodium soya sauce, skim or 0.5% milk, no yolk egg noodles and olive oil margarine, mayonnaise and whipped salad dressing

Adding things to your diet that have been proven to be of significant health benefit are key components of Stealth Health. For example, pork chops. A recent study showed that pork chops actually contain 5 times more selenium, (an essential mineral linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer), than beef, and twice that of chicken. Iceberg lettuce, believe it or not, is no longer considered nutritiounally bankrupt as it has significantly more alpha-carotenoids, which are powerful disease-fighting antioxidants, than either romaine or spinach. Mushrooms have metabolites that boost your immunity and prevent cancer cell growth. Vinegar lowers blood sugar and red pepper flakes have an active ingredient called capsaicin that may help kill cancer cells.

Then there is the vast assortment of herbs and seasonings that you can add to replace salt: basil, thyme, oregano, paprika, rosemary, cayenne, curry, parsley, sage, cloves, cumin, nutmeg...the list goes on and on. Of particular note is turmeric and cinnamon. Turmeric is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, because it contains a powerful phytochemical that can stop cancer cells from reproducing and spreading, slows Alzheimer Disease progression and helps control weight. Just the smell of cinnamon can improve brain function but it also lowers blood sugar levels, LDL (bad) cholesterol, trigylcerieds and overall cholesterol levels.

In the final analysis, whether you chose 'Eating Clean' or 'Stealth Health', as long as you try to incorporate more of the good good and less of the bad, you're on the right track. I know I've given you a lot of information to digest, pardon the pun, but the easiest way to eating cleaner AND stealthier is to start with baby steps. Make little changes every day, and don't freak out if you slip up or make a little mistake. Its' what you do the majority of the time that counts most, which fortunately leaves a little wiggle rooms for the odd Bourbon Bacon Jam and Banana and Nut Stuffed French Toast!


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