Eating Clean Defined

Healthy Recipes and Nutrition
on April 13, 2012

More and more, people are trying out the clean eating lifestyle. Understand what eating clean means, and decide for yourself if this healthy way of living is for you.

Clean eating history. The beginnings of the clean eating movement were born within the natural healthy food movement of the 1960s. At that time, many cultural revolutions were taking place, and food was no exception. Healthy, natural food became synonymous with the morals and values of this time. The health food movement never went away, but became popular in the gyms where health-conscious body builders and exercise fans took up the mantle. Registered dietician, author and clean eating expert Diane Welland has popularized the clean way of eating in her many works, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean.” Clean eating is not one person’s realm, however; Tosca Reno has popularized the “Eat Clean Diet” with her series of books on the topic.

Principals of clean eating. There are several versions of clean eating and the clean eating diet. Most followers of clean eating consider the process of consuming whole, unprocessed foods a lifestyle and not a diet. The key principals of a clean eating lifestyle include eliminating processed foods and refined sugars, eating more protein, consuming smaller meals, and avoiding juices and soda.

Eliminating processed foods. It may not be entirely possible to avoid all processed foods, but get as close to that goal as possible. If it comes in a box, bag or package, it’s probably processed. Most of your foods should be fresh.

Unrefined is best. Refined sugars and grains should be dropped when following a clean eating plan. Stick with limited amounts of natural sugars like honey, pure maple sugar, agave nectar and cane juices. Grains should be whole and not processed by having the outer bran layer removed. Fats and sodium are OK in limited amounts. Most of your whole foods will have the right amounts of all of these nutrients within them, and no added salt, sugar or fat is necessary.

Protein at every meal. Including a lean protein source or protein powder at every meal ensures a balanced meal. Clean eaters know that protein in combination with fats and carbohydrates provide a slow burning fuel that will keep you full longer and help build muscle, which burns more calories than fat.

Little meals all day. Food should be entering your body regularly throughout the day. The body responds well to this type of eating by staying out of starvation mode (where calories are stored and held onto when deprivation dieting). Eating this way keeps your blood sugar low, and steady and energy levels are maintained.

Do not drink calories. If you are drinking caloric beverages often, you are taking in unnecessary empty calories. Clean eating emphasizes avoiding the diet-busting beverage pitfall by drinking calorie-free drinks like water, unsweetened tea and coffee. Low-fat skim milk and sparkling water are additional clean eating options.