Clean eating is one of the hottest dietary trends right now, and with devotees including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Anniston and Elle McPherson and their aspirational bodies it’s easy to see why. But what does clean eating really mean? It is actually a rather simple concept. Instead of implementing fewer calories or more protein in order to lose weight, the idea is more about being mindful of your food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or "real" foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.
We caught up with Max Tuck, the Raw Food Scientist, to ask her why she advocates the diet and how we can implement some of the principles into our busy daily lives with children and hectic work schedules.
What is your career background?
I qualified as a veterinary surgeon from the Royal Veterinary College, London in 1985. It seems a strange leap from vet to Health Educator, but I became hugely interested in human health, and prevention and reversal of illness in 1990, as a result of personal experience. After reversing my own “incurable” condition through dietary and lifestyle upgrades, I went on to train at the prestigious Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida between 2004 and 2006. Hippocrates has been voted “The World’s Best Medical Spa” and it was an amazing experience to receive my Health Educator qualification from there.
What exactly is raw food science?
That’s a large subject to cover, but basically it refers to all of the beneficial nutrients for human health which we find in the plant kingdom. Many of these nutrients are destroyed by heat, so by eating foods which contain them in their raw state, or having them in juices or smoothies, we can access more of these beneficial nutrients than we could if we cooked that food. I’m very much into all of the science behind this interesting information.
What is your view on how the food we eat affects our skin?
What we eat, and indeed drink, has a massive impact on the skin, and that impact can be either very positive or highly negative. We know the obvious ones of course, such as alcohol and junk food being bad for skin, but many people are unaware of the damaging effects of sugar, for example, on skin health. And when it comes to the beneficial nutrients, some people still believe that if they just take some vitamin C it will all be fine. This really isn’t the case and it’s so important to look at all the nutrients which we need for good health, and not just choose one out of the 20,000 in the plant kingdom that we so far know about.
Give us an example of what you would eat on a typical day
I start my day with juice made from celery, cucumber, sprouted seeds, pea shoots and wheatgrass juice, then a berry, banana and tahini [a paste made from sesame seeds]. I usually then have a smoothie mid-morning.
I eat my main meal around 3pm which is salad. My salads are huge and full of green leaves, and sprouted beans and seeds dressed in tahini or almond butter with spices and sesame oil.
Then, in the evening, it’s usually a home-made, cold (uncooked) soup of blended vegetables with spices. I’ll throw carrots, peppers and tomatoes in the blender with coconut water, or conjure up a raw soup from whatever vegetables I have. It’s effectively a vegetable smoothie, but I eat it with a spoon.
Can you give us 3 tips that every person can take now to improve their diet and ultimately their skin?
Drink a large green juice every day. If ever there were a “fast track” to looking and feeling better, this has to be it! As well as hydrating you at a cellular level, green juice contains many skin-health nutrients in their most bioavailable form. Make the juice from celery, cucumber, pea shoots and sunflower greens if you can access them. You’ll find more info on juicing on my website. Avoid juicing fruit because it has too much sugar in it, and that will damage the skin. Ditch takeaways and alcohol. Yes, you might get away with it in your teens and 20’s, but continuing to make poor food choices will eventually show up in your face and the rest of the body. Move towards a plant-based diet, making a habit of eating a large green salad every day, with as much brightly-coloured produce as you can find. This will ensure you’re getting lots of lovely antioxidants to protect the skin from damage by free radicals.
Apart from looking 20 years younger than she actually is, which is surely a good enough reason to take note of what she has to say, Max exudes energy and radiance. As we talk I find myself questioning my meal choices and, whilst I may not have the willpower to move to an entirely raw food diet, I will most certainly be adding more whole foods to my plate.
Max Tuck is the author of Love Your Bones and The Whole Body Solution. www.therawfoodscientist.com