While you know Tia Mowry (and her sister Tamera) thanks to childhood afternoons spent watching Sister, Sister, now the celeb is synonymous with something none of us were thinking about as kids: clean eating.
On the heels of her successful Cooking Channel show Tia Mowry at Home, Tia released a cookbook after focusing her efforts on improving her own life through mindful, healthy eating—a journey she credits for calming a host of chronic issues, from migraines to endometriosis. “I wrote this book based on the concept that food can be medicine in its own way; that it can worsen or help with an existing condition. That was my experience, and I’m hoping that writing about it can help others too,” she said in a recent interview with Buzzfeed.
MORE: The Picky Eater's Guide to Clean Eating
For those who feel overwhelmed by all the pressure to conform to one ideal of healthy living, Tia is sympathetic to the struggle. “I was told not to eat dairy—after I’d been eating it my whole life—and it was overwhelming,” she confesses. Her advice? “Start slow. Find recipes you can identify with, then just test them out and see how they make you feel,” she suggests.
For Tia, the results were hard to argue with. “…I immediately started feeling less sluggish, and that was enough to make me want to explore more,” she says of her introduction to the eating clean.
So what exactly is clean eating? Simply put, it means cutting out processed foods, focusing on ingredients that appear on your plate the way they did in nature. It means utilizing fruits and veggies, grains and proteins in their most natural forms as the guiding principle of your diet, rather than necessarily “cutting out” any food group.
But can clean eating really lessen the impact of conditions like endometriosis, which affects Tia and many other American women? Doctors think it might.
“Eating a healthy diet definitely has an impact on endometriosis,” OBGYN and women’s health expert Sherry Ross, M.D., told Self recently. And in the case of endometriosis, cutting dairy might be the focus, rather than an occasional feature, of a healthier diet. Because high-fat dairy can increase estrogen levels in the body, it can be connected to the effects of endometriosis. All the more reason Tia needed to make this beneficial diet change. “Everybody’s different, but that’s what I needed to do for me,” says Tia of her new diet.
Here’s what else you should know about clean eating if you’re thinking of making the switch.
1. There’s no reason to be daunted!
Chances are, many foods you already enjoy fall under 'clean eating' with minimal changes. For instance, check out Tia’s mango avocado spring rolls with almond butter sauce; it's way healthier than takeout, but with that same delicious appeal.
2. Not all sugars are created equal.
The hardest part for many newcomers? Cutting out refined sugars. Luckily, the natural sugar in fruit is an easy replacement and ensures that you’re not consuming empty calories. Tia loves breakfast smoothie bowls with freeze-dried fruit for a sweet start to every day.
3. Be prepared to mix it up.
There are, however, a few ways in which the clean-eating rules can sneak up on you. Use these as opportunities to get creative with your meal-building like Tia did here, replacing shells with healthy greens.
4. Your energy levels will thank you.
One of the first things people notice about clean eating is the impact it has on one’s energy. By eating real foods, you may find you’re no longer so reliant on that morning cup of coffee (or three).
5. Portion size still reigns supreme.
Following all the ingredient rules to the letter doesn’t mean you’re in the clear; portion size still matters, regardless of your diet. Many people find themselves overfilling their plates when they start out, because they’re eating 'healthy foods.'
But don’t let portion guidelines fall by the wayside. You should still adhere to normal recommended portion sizes. A guide like this one can help if you’re uncertain.
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Recipe: Clean Eating Quinoa Salad