BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Does your diet plan need a serving of motivation? A challenge starting this week could help you stay on track. "Eat Clean in 2015" kicks off Thursday at Woman's Center for Wellness.
Registered dietitian Brooke Schoonenberg always reads ingredient labels closely before tossing groceries in her cart.
"I can pronounce them all with ease, I can identify every ingredient and I can know exactly what it is," she said while examining a box of cereal. "To me, that's what a good, clean food is."
Schoonenberg tells clients at Woman's to do the same: choose foods close to their natural state, as minimally processed as possible. They are usually found on the perimeter of the grocery store.
"Choosing produce, dairy, meats, poultry, fish, all those things that you can eat without having to do a whole lot to them to prepare them," she explained.
It's called "eating clean," and it's the idea behind the month-long challenge. There's only one physical meeting, then the rest is done online. Participants get meal plans and recipes for a month's worth of food, restaurant guides, grocery store tips, and access to a "digital dietitian" for 30 days. Those are Woman's staffers available through e-mail to answer questions and offer tips throughout the challenge.
"We are going to be with you every step of the way even though we're not going to be right there beside you. It's an expert at your fingertips," Schoonenberg said.
The challenge is not part of a fad, and the "D" word is not part of the conversation.
"We're moving away from a diet mentality and more to a lifestyle mentality," Schoonenberg said. "So how can you eat in a clean way that's good for your body, and it's more about nourishment and not about calories and counting things anymore."
A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found a clean diet dominated by fruits and vegetables with a moderate amount of fish could cut your risk for colorectal cancers by 43%.
"Any of the vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber are the ones we are looking for to help clear out the colon and help decrease that risk of colon and rectal cancer," said Dr. Ryan Williams, a colorectal surgeon at Cleveland Clinic.
Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in Louisiana, but also one of the most preventable. It starts with what's on your plate. The challenge is to change it.
The "Eat Clean in 2015" challenge kicks off Thursday, March 19 with a meeting from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Woman's Center for Wellness. Men are also encouraged to take part. The cost is $65, with reduced rates for employees and fitness members.