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"Clean Eating"... What is it?

July 28, 2014

"Clean Eating" is trending among the more health conscious population along with individuals who wish to be more health minded. "Clean Eating" has become a hot nutrition topic as more people flock to attempt various diet challenges that typically look like "Clean Eating for X Number of Days." But what exactly does "Clean" eating even mean? What are the benefits and risks of following this dietary regimen - and are these claims substantiated in any way?

The basis of clean eating is essentially to eat more whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, legumes, nuts, and more lean meats while eliminating processed foods, sugar-laden beverages, and junk food. Sounds pretty fair, right? Food prepping for the week and meal planning are essential components to maintaining a clean eating routine, which makes sense because of the convenience of processed foods. In theory, clean eating is wonderful and preaches thoughtful and great eating habits, however, as the trend has started to take off, the principles have become muddled and extremists have taken over. Clean eating is simply a name given to a healthy diet of fresh foods, which is full of its own benefits. There is no need to place labels such as "detox," "diet," and other buzz words alongside this eating pattern, since it is just fine for you with or without making up claims. Certain dietitians and nutritionists will recommend clean eating to the extreme by:

eating specific foods at certain times of the day (such as almonds at 1:30 pm)

offering foods that do not fit different cultural preferences

going to the grocery store 2-3 times per week

eating specific portions based on gender (though appropriate portion sizes is always beneficial)

consuming less calories than are actually recommended for YOU

Some popular claims that are endorsed by "clean eating" include: increased energy levels, better long term health, and an improved physique - which can all be true outcomes of eating a diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods while limiting your intake of processed, fast, junk food and also engaging in regular physical activity. However, clean eating is not a "special" diet that will have rapid results. It will not magically make you feel like you are "on top of the world," especially if you already eat a balanced, relatively unprocessed diet. There aren’t too many risks associated with attempting to eat healthier, unless you set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. Eliminating convenience foods completely and cutting out all processed foods at one time is without a doubt challenging. Making smarter and healthier nutritional choices doesn’t necessitate adhering to a stringently restrictive diet.

Becoming more nutritionally healthy is all about making small changes and building upon them with time. There are several ways to achieve realistic dietary goals to eating more healthfully. The Slice Plan is also an ideal method of clean eating as it promotes a healthy lifestyle with long-term modifications set to teach you how to eat a variety of fresh foods while promoting self preparation.

Happy Eating!

Alexandria Wolz, Cooperative Intern for:

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