Are You Ready To Eat Clean?

Millet Breakfast Tacos (c) Lauren Volo
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Are you ready to eat clean? Gut  health is in the spotlight right now, and not a moment too soon. I get emails every single day from people with digestive issues. So I was thrilled when my friend, Amie Valpone, sent me a copy of her new book, Eating Clean, to review. It’s a 21-Day plan to fight inflammation, and reset your body. She’s done a great job! It’s a gorgeous book, and the recipes look absolutely mouth-watering. I managed to grab a few moments with Amie to ask her about clean eating.

Sophie: What is “Clean” eating? 

Amie: Eating clean is about eating whole, one-ingredient foods. What’s in an avocado? An avocado. What’s in an apple? An apple. I’ve lived the last 10 years with chronic illness learning how to heal my body by eating whole, one-ingredient foods. What many people don’t realize is that you can create all of your meals and snacks around a combination of one-ingredient foods instead of using processed and inflammatory foods. For example, you can make your lunch out of a salad with lettuce, avocado, walnuts, quinoa or wild rice, fresh basil, fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. That’s a meal made of one ingredient foods! Add a scoop of hummus for some extra protein and you’re all set! No processed salad dressing or sugar-laden condiments needed! I want to show people that eating clean and living clean feels amazing. Not because they should do it, but because once they see life this way, they’ll never got back. There’s not an inflammatory white bagel in the world that I’d eat to give up for as good as I feel right now.  When you figure out what works for you and makes you feel amazing, why wouldn’t you do that every day? Don’t you do what makes you feel good? I sure do!

 Sophie: Why in chronic “inflammation” such a problem for so many people?

Amie: Too many of us accept too low a quality of life as normal. We deal with headaches, exhaustion, weight gain and more but what many people do not realize is that these symptoms are not normal. It took me years to realize that taking Advil or Tums every week wasn’t normal. We’re bombarded by advertisements that make us think that drugs and over the counter drugs are normal- but sadly they are just band-aids to cover up an imbalance in our bodies that we’re not addressing because we’re often to stressed or busy to figure out the ‘Why’. I was one of these people in my 20’s. I never thought I had inflammation until it was too late and a lot of the damage had been done. Why wait until something goes wrong with your health to start making changes? 

Our bodies were built to feel amazing every day and the majority of us accept feeling tired, bloated and foggy brained on a daily basis. Throughout the last 10 years I’ve suffered from over a dozen chronic health issues including Lyme disease, PCOS, Hypothyroidism, Candida, C-diff Colitis, Leaky Gut and more. After spending many years without relief from western medicine on a cocktail of drugs, I chose a different path to fight the inflammation in my body. I soon realized I wasn’t the only one suffering, and through my blog The Healthy Apple, I started receiving thousands of emails from people who were also suffering and not finding answers to help them get to the root cause of their symptoms. That’s when I turned my life around and learned how to address the underlying imbalances in my body instead of treating my symptoms such as bloating and sinus pressure (inflammation) with a Band-Aid approach.

During my journey to wellness it dawned on me that if more people understood what an important role they play in their own health, they could change the quality of their life forever. We have so much more control than we realize and it starts with fighting inflammation by eating clean, whole and nourishing foods. Many people are starting to experience hidden sensitivities to the foods they eat, which is causing inflammation and serious health issues. Food sensitivities can occur a few hours after eating the problem food or up to a few days later and they manifest in symptoms such as acne, eczema, sinus issues, headaches, bloating, weight gain, muscle and/or joint pain, brain fog, exhaustion and water retention. . In my book, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, I walk you through a 21 day elimination diet where you remove problematic inflammatory foods and then slowly start to add each back one by one to see what foods are causing inflammation. There is a very specific way of doing this elimination diet and the reintroduction process so I suggest following step by step for accurate results.

Sophie: What are the symptoms of inflammation?

Amie: Inflammation is a popular topic these days because it’s the root cause of unwanted symptoms and health issues but no one eats a white bagel, gets a headache a few hours later and says, “O, I think I have inflammation.” That just doesn’t happen- people don’t make the connection. Also, inflammation can be silent and until you receive blood work or are diagnosed with a health issue, you might have no idea there is inflammation in your body. When our immune system is imbalanced, inflammation can lead to chronic health issues. Inflammation can be caused by stress, mold, pesticides, mercury, hidden parasites, bacteria and viruses as well as by eating an inflammatory diet filled with table salt, sugar, white flours, refined vegetable oils and processed foods, all of which lack nutrients that our body needs on a daily basis to function optimally. I never want anyone to go through what I went through for 10 very painful, exhausting years trying to figure out how to be healthy in a real way. I’m ready to hand over the keys to you to shortcut other people’s journey to wellness and save them time, money and suffering with my new book so they can fight inflammation before it gets out of control.

Sophie: What are the top 5 foods we should avoid?

Amie: There are 13 inflammatory foods listed in my book (and all my recipes are free of those 13 foods) but if I had to pick the top foods to avoid for inflammation, they would be:

  1. Refined table salt—use sea salt instead.
  2. Gluten—use almond flour or coconut flour or chickpea flour instead for baking and use gluten-free grains such as quinoa, millet, wild rice and black rice instead for optimal nutrient-density!
  3. Dairy—use nut and seed milks, nut cheeses and coconut milk instead.
  4. Soy—use the above dairy substitutes instead.
  5. White Flours (all purpose flours)—again, here use one-ingredient flours that are full of protein and fiber such as almond, coconut, chickpea or oat flour.

Sophie: Do you regard meat and fish to be pro-inflammatory?

I did not include animal products (except some honey) in my book so all the 200+ recipes are vegetarian/vegan but that doesn’t mean that you can’t add your own organic animal products, if desired. I do think that any animal product that is not organic (conventional) is highly inflammatory. I learned this from my doctors. When you eat conventional (non-organic) dairy (cheese, milk, ice cream), eggs, poultry, meat, etc. you are pumping in growth hormones and antibiotics into your body, which is inflammation! You know what happens to you when you take antibiotics when you are sick- it kills off the bad pathogens so you can imagine what happens to your body and your gut health (where 80% of your immune system is) when you eat foods filled with these toxic ingredients. Many people suffer from hormone imbalances, weight gain and other unexplained symptoms/illnesses and they don’t make the connection to the inflammatory foods they are eating.

I personally do not eat fish or any seafood because of my heavy metal accumulation that I had years ago and the levels of heavy metals are too high in seafood for my body. If your body feels good eating meat and poultry, that’s wonderful as long as you are listening to what your body wants and ALWAYS eating organic animal products. I did not include eggs in my book but if you’re able to digest eggs and they make you feel good, then you can include organic eggs into your lifestyle. I don’t believe in deprivation. I believe in listening to what our body wants. I don’t think we should put labels on ourselves as to what we eat and don’t eat- I do think that we need to listen to what our bodies want and eat in alignment with what makes us feel amazing. Not what the latest magazine is telling us to eat/avoid. You know your body best. That’s why some people are cured of cancer going vegan and others cure themselves of auto immune disease eating paleo. We are all very different. Our bodies were designed to feel amazing every single day so my best advice is to eat what works for you- not what works for anyone else.

Sophie: What about healthy fats?

Amie: Healthy fats are a huge part of fighting inflammation. There are fats that are highly inflammatory such as refined vegetable oils (such as canola oil and other cheap oils) and conventional dairy but you can make it a point to include healthy fats in your meals every day so that you are feeding your body the building blocks it needs to function optimally. A few of my healthy fats are: avocados, raw nuts and seeds (especially ground flaxseeds and walnuts) and extra-virgin olive oil. Something that has helped me tremendously with my healing process is eating more healthy fats. I never realized how big of a role fats play in keeping our bodies healthy. Many of my clients fear fat and they end up with health issues down the road because their bodies weren’t getting the nourishment they needed. Many people are stressed out, overworked, not sleeping as much as they should be and not eating the right foods- so you can imagine what starts to happen to their bodies after a few years of living a lifestyle like that! Add in the fact that not many people understand what good fats are (and they’re not eating enough of them)- and you’ve got yourself an endocrine system issue (hormone imbalance, thyroid issues, infertility, etc.) or autoimmune disease, etc. because our bodies need healthy fats to help feed the powerhouse mitochondria in our cells!

Sophie: What are your top 5 couldn’t-live-without foods?

I have so many! But the top 5 are: zucchini (so delicious and so versatile in everything from creamy soups to spiralized salads), chickpea miso (I use a lot of this in my book because it’s soy-free and it’s fermented which is great for gut health and overall immune system health), avocados (they are so creamy and delicious in everything from breakfast to lunch to dinner and even desserts), raw nuts (cashews, walnuts and almonds are my favorites- they’re used in my book to make nut cheeses and amazing creamy dips and spreads without soy and dairy), fresh herbs (take any meal and you can make it even more amazing when you add fresh parsley, cilantro, dill, chives, scallions, mint, basil and rosemary- these are key for your meals and snacks when you are cutting out sugar and processed condiments because they’re naturally sweet and full of amazing flavor. I’m a little rabbit because I add more herbs than lettuce to my salad because I want maximum flavor)!

I am going to try making the “Happy Hemp Seed, Chickpea Miso, and Cranberry Grain Free Crackers” today – they look insane!


Grab a copy of Amie’s wonderful new book, Eating Clean (it’s on pre-order), now!

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Sophie Uliano is New York Times best-selling author and leading expert in the field of natural health and beauty, who takes a down-to-earth approach to beauty focusing on what's truly healthy. Join my masterclass to get started.