What is Clean Eating?

June 03, 2015

You’ve probably seen the term “clean eating” around a lot lately, it’s become a big trend in nutrition.  Lots of people are following this program and trying to live a healthier lifestyle overall.  But exactly what is clean eating?

At its heart, clean eating means that you consume food in its most natural state.  This means that food has not been processed at all, like fresh fruits and vegetables, or very minimally processed, such as whole grain breads, natural dairy products, and some condiments.

Clean eating isn’t based on calorie consumption or eating more or less of particular ingredients (protein, carbs, etc.), rather it means to eat better.  A diet that consists of high-quality “real” foods is healthier overall than one based on processed and packaged items.  With clean eating you always want to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

You may be wondering what constitutes a processed food.  According to the clean eating guidelines:

  • Anything that has any kinds of additives; salt, fat, preservatives, vitamin fortification, etc.
  • Anything in which the natural form of the item has been changed.  For example, removing the bran and germ from whole grains to make them refined.
  • Anything that has ingredients that were made in a lab.  These are all those unpronounceable words on ingredient lists.

When you measure ingredients up to these standards, just some examples of items that would fall into this category include; hot dogs, lunch meat, jarred pasta sauce, instant oatmeal, white bread, frozen pre-cooked vegetable blends, cereal, pasta, and packaged baked goods.

Other ingredients that must be eliminated in a clean eating diet include artificial sweeteners of any kind (small amounts of natural options like honey are allowed), food dyes, sodas and energy drinks, canola, soybean and corn oil, and basically any inexpensive junk food.

Now that you have an idea of what you’re supposed to avoid, here’s a brief look at the kinds of foods a clean eating diet should incorporate:

  • Healthy fats like olive and coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
  • Whole grains such as barley, wild rice and oats.
  • Legumes such as black beans, chickpeas and lentils.
  • Any and all FRESH fruits and vegetables in their whole, natural state.
  • High quality meats, poultry and fish, particularly lean cuts.
  • Dairy products (organic or raw preferred) like whole milk, Greek yogurt, butter and natural cheese.  (Note, raw milk is the truly only unprocessed milk but very hard to find so organic is the next best choice.)
  • Non-dairy items like unsweetened almond, soy or coconut milk, if preferred or necessary due to dietary restrictions.

For more information, visit Clean Eating Magazine on-line.

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