Many people are interested in all-natural, no-additive diets these days, especially since terms like "clean eating" and "super foods" have crept into the media. But healthy, additive-free eating is anything but a short-lived trend. In reality, it's simply the way earlier generations always used to eat: whole foods, largely from the earth, in their unprocessed form -- without preservatives, added sugar and sodium, chemical flavorings or artificial colors. This style of eating follows a few basic rules of thumb that can be challenging in today's food culture, but it promises substantial nutrition and benefits to your health.
Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Ideally, this means the ones that have been grown organically with no added pesticide sprays. Fruits and vegetables are whole, unprocessed, super-nutritious foods that don't contain added ingredients you don't recognize and can't pronounce. The American Cancer Society recommends at least five servings of these foods per day.
Choose whole grains, preferably plain and/or in bulk. When selecting grain products for your meals and snacks, pass up the processed versions like white bread, white rice, refined cereals, white pasta, most chips and crackers, biscuits and white-flour pancakes. Instead, look for brown rice, whole oats, quinoa, bulgur, barley, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, bran flakes and wheat germ. By buying these grains in bulk or in other forms that contain few if any other ingredients, you will avoid chemical additives and extra sugars.
Read nutrition labels when buying packaged foods, such as yogurt, cheese, meat and milk. The ingredients list will tell you what additives, if any, are included in the food. Avoid items that contain artificial ingredients, such as hormones added to milk or high-fructose corn syrup added to flavored yogurts.
Limit saturated fat and maximize nutrients and fiber by choosing lean sources of protein and foods containing essential fatty acids. While meat and poultry can be lean and healthy, some cuts are high in saturated fat. To eat more healthily, the American Dietetic Association suggests including fish, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and nut butters into your diet as nutritious sources of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Avoid high-saturated-fat, high-calorie, and/or high-sugar packaged snack foods and sweets. Commercially prepared snack foods, like chips, crackers, cookies and pastries, are typically loaded with additives that provide no nutrition and are detrimental to your health. Cut out these junk foods to maximize your health and keep additives out of your diet.