Nutrition-wise blog

What is clean eating?

By Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. July 20, 2016

The term clean eating — or eating clean — seems to be all over the internet and in grocery stores and restaurants. What do these buzz words mean? Is clean eating just another fad?

Clean eating is in essence a diet — just a way of eating. But it is also a way of a way of living that lends itself to improving one's health and wellbeing.

From my reading on clean eating, I've found a few key principles that align with basic principles of healthy eating. Here is how I see clean eating:

  • Eat more real foods. Sound familiar? One of the tenets of the Mayo Clinic Diet is eating more real foods and fewer processed or refined foods. Convenience food is OK, sometimes even necessary, just make sure that what's in that can or package is the real thing with few other ingredients.
  • Eat for nourishment. Eat regular, balanced meals and healthy snacks that are nourishing and not too rushed. Eat at home more often and prepare food in healthy ways. Pack food to eat away from home when on the road, at work or activities. When you do eat out, choose wisely.
  • Eat safe food. This is my addition to the idea of clean eating. Based on the name itself, clean food should be safe. Practice food safety by washing produce before consumption (you may consider buying organic as well), keeping raw meats separate from produce from the grocery store to home, cooking food to proper temperatures and chilling food quickly after service.

Other principles you may consider to enhance the basics:

  • Eat local. Keep foods close to your home by growing your own, participating in community supported agriculture (CSA), farmers markets and the like.
  • Eat more plant-based foods. Ramp up on plants by eating more plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils and peas, and high-protein whole grains, like quinoa, barley and buckwheat.
  • Clean up your act. Adopt a cleaner lifestyle by getting plenty of physical activity during the day, getting enough sleep at night and managing stress in healthy ways. Connect with people you enjoy — talk, laugh, share a meal, go for a walk or play a game.

Since clean eating and living a clean lifestyle have no official definitions, you can determine what they mean to you. Choose a few changes that will help you improve your diet and your overall wellbeing.

July 20, 2016