What is Clean Eating?

5After I’m done enthusing about my brand spankin’ new clean eating food blog (the one you’re reading, ladies and gents) to anyone who will listen, I am usually greeted with a short pause and a sheepish look.

“That’s lovely dear,” one relative responded.

“But what exactly is, this, er, um, clean eating diet that you are obsessively blogging about?”

So, let’s talk about it, shall we?

Clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible.

That’s the short and sweet answer. Clean eating = real food.

If you are following this way of eating then you avoid processed foods, refined grains, and refined sugars.

Clean eating is about taking real, raw ingredients in their natural state and preparing them into delicious meals. Clean foods are free of preservatives, additives, colors, sugars, damaged fats (such as trans fat and hydrogenated fats), and artificial sweeteners.

It involves eating mainly vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, meat, poultry and seafood. Legumes, whole grains and low-fat dairy products are fine too. Moderate amounts of dark chocolate, red wine and unrefined sweeteners (like honey and maple syrup) are also allowed.

Now what about this diet business? Nope- it’s not a diet!

Clean eating is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle approach to food and meal preparation.

If you’re interested in clean eating, stop obsessing over nutrition labels and start reading ingredient lists! Do you recognize the foods on there? Are they real foods? Real foods do not have 7 syllables or require a degree in chemistry to pronounce. Any product with a long ingredient list is processed and not considered clean.

Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s look at some other things included in clean eating:

  • Avoid processed/refined foods- white flour, bread, sugar, pasta, etc.
  • Eat more plants. (Looooots more plants- we’re talking vegetables and fruits.)
  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day. Or try 3 meals and 2-3 small snacks.
  • Eat reasonable portion sizes
  • Eat whole grains (ie. not Minute Rice, etc.)
  • Eat produce that is seasonal and local
  • Consume healthy fats (ie. olive oil, flaxseed, etc.)
  • Choose organic whenever possible
  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Drink more water! Aim for at least 2 L per day.
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats as well as anything fried or high in sugar
  • Chew your food- slow down and savor each bite!
  • Bring healthy food with you so you snack sensibly

There you go! A crash-course on what this new-fangled clean eating term means.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll have a cup of coffee together and chat about clean eating versus the paleo diet, shall we? (I was on the paleo diet for almost 3 years. We’ll chat about what eating like a caveman is like and how it’s different from eating clean.)

See you tomorrow! UPDATE: Read about clean eating vs paleo here.


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