The Best Way to Eat and Live
Integrative nutrition health coach Aimee Rein recommends small, gradual changes that help make her plans work, slowly becoming a part of a balanced life.
Photo by Sandro De Carvalho
Forget everything you know — or think you know — about dieting and nutrition. The movement toward clean living is raising awareness about the amount of chemicals in everyday products and processed foods, helping people to reevaluate what they choose to put into their bodies.
The clean eating or living concept is more of a lifestyle overhaul. It’s not about cutting carbs or sugar for a specific amount of time, and it’s definitely not about crash diets. What’s the benefit of a Whole30 Challenge if you celebrate on Day 31 with cake? Like any positive change, it’s only as good as its duration.
But the idea of clean living goes above and beyond what we eat to include chemical-free make-up and shampoo, and green cleaning products and diapers. Companies like Beautycounter are taking a stand to create safer products, pledging to never include more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals from its “Never List.” If the popularity of clean products and surge in organic, plant-based restaurants is any indication, this isn’t just another fad—but the most intelligent way to eat for life.
“The purpose of eating is to provide fuel for the body,” explains Glen Colello, owner of Catch A Healthy Habit, a popular vegan restaurant downtown. “Eating and drinking clean provides the highest quality fuel.”
It’s a very simple concept that can be challenging to follow. After suffering from excruciating heartburn for most of my adult life, I decided it might be time to figure out the cause rather than relying on a pill. With the help of Westport integrative health coach Aimee Rein, I eliminated common irritants from my diet to detox and also find the source. The number one culprit: wheat.
“Most approaches to healthy eating dwell on calories, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins,” says Rein, founder of Pure Wellness With Aimee Rein. “Instead of creating lists of restrictions and good and bad foods, I coach my clients to explore basic improvements and implement gradual changes during our work together.”
Rein also encourages increased water consumption. As a general rule, she recommends drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.That’s way more than the old standard of eight glasses. “Drinking warm lemon water when you first wake up is a great way to get your body and mind going,” Rein explains. “It provides vitamins and minerals, rehydrates the body, flushes and improves the digestive system, and aids the liver to release toxins.”
Another essential part of eating clean is to eliminate processed sugar; especially artificial sweeteners made from chemicals that actually make you crave more sugar. Consider that the American Heart Association recommends women eat no more than 24 grams of sugar per day, but a small container of yogurt can contain 25 grams.
“Corn, soy, and sugar beets are the most genetically engineered food,” stresses Colello. “Almost anything that has sugar now comes from GMO (genetically modified or engineered) sugar beets. Almost all packaged foods have soy or corn and today’s commercial meat is fed corn and soy so it’s nearly impossible to avoid.”
The good news is that those living in Fairfield County have options. There are Farmers Markets, CSAs, and local restaurants like B. Good, Bloodroot, Catch A Healthy Habit, Freshii, and Organika that focus their entire menu on these natural, plant-based food choices.
Clean eating isn’t just for adults. While it can prove difficult to get the kids on board, there are family friendly choices. B. Good, for example, offers healthier spins on French fries and hamburgers. “Everyone here wants to eat healthy and fresh,” owner Steve Hourihan says. “We are trying to bring farm-to-table to fast food and the mainstream in Fairfield.”
Whether eating out or cooking at home, there are tons of resources for making healthy swaps toward cleaner living. Consider small changes at first—swapping out chemical laden products, drinking more water, and eliminating processed food — and soon you’ll be on a path toward positive long-term change.
Aimee Rein’s clients can’t get enough of her recipes, like these roasted root veggie chips. Check out more of her gluten- and dairy-free meal ideas at aimeerein.com/recipes-1. The salted caramel dark chocolate matzo bark is a favorite.