Clean Eating: What It Is, Its Pros and Cons
You see the words “clean eating” everywhere nowadays – on the internet, in grocery stores, in magazines and health and diet books. What exactly is “clean eating?” Is it based on solid research or is it another “grapefruit diet,” here today, gone tomorrow?
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is a way of eating more than a specific diet. It focuses more on your food’s origin rather than metrics such as caloric count, percentages of nutrients, etc. The shorter the path from your food’s origin to your plate the better. You want your food to be as close to their natural form as possible.
A few key principles of clean eating are:
- Eating more real foods. One tenet of the Mayo Clinic Diet is eating more real foods. Clean eating requires the eater to eat fewer processed or refined foods. A few secondary ingredients are acceptable but for the most part, you’ll want to stick with the real deal.
- Eating for Nourishment. Fast food is generally a no-no. You’ll want to eat regular and balanced meals that nourish the body, not just fill it up. Snacks are ok, but they should be as healthy as your regular foods. It’s easier to eat clean when you eat at home, preparing your own meals using healthy food prepared in healthy ways. Try not to eat out often and when you do, choose food that is as healthy as possible.
- Eating Clean, Living Clean. “Clean” isn’t restricted only to eating. Your lifestyle can be clean as well – challenging physical activity, adequate sleep, healthy ways of dealing with stress, having hobbies and relationships you enjoy.
- Eating More Plant-Based Foods. This is a suggestion that is in most diets, crossing diet trends and a lot of diet fads. Plant-based food doesn’t have the fat, sodium, sugar, or carbs issues found in other types of food. Plant-based food can provide protein, antioxidants, vitamins C, A, K, E, etc., and are excellent for clearing out your digestive system.
The biggest enemy of clean eating would be processed foods. Processed foods can be defined as foods that:
- Contain additional ingredients: salt, sugars, fats, even vitamins added
- Are not in their natural form: stir-fried veggies, apples mashed into applesauce, etc.
- Have lab-manufactured components: look at the ingredients label, see those long, hard-to-pronounce words? Those are more than likely lab-manufactured components
The definition of “processed” can get really restrictive. And food that is processed is not always bad. In fact, sometimes the processing is needed for make the food safe for ingestion (such as milk). A reasonable goal would be to limit your intake of processed foods, not do away with them altogether.
Anything that changes the form of the food is considered “processed” including:
- Pre-jarred sauces, jams, etc.
- Instant cereals such as oatmeal
- Steamed vegetables
- Canned vegetables and fruits
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of clean eating.
- Largely plant-based diets are healthy
- Research shows diets with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables can actually have a factor in preventing or reducing diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- Research also shows a correlation between diets with high amounts of fruits and vegetables and healthy weight management and glowing skin.
- Clean eating is not always convenient
- Taking too much out of your diet can be unhealthy
- Clean eating can be expensive
- Clean eating can become obsessive which causes it to become unhealthy
Interested in trying clean eating? Here are a few tips:
- Load up on fruits and vegetables
- Go whole grain
- Limit your meat intake
- Benefits of eating less meat include:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced dangers of heart disease
- Helps with weight management
- Benefits of eating less meat include:
- Limit your processed foods
- Watch out for sugar content
- Limit refined grains
- Reduce partially hydrogenated oils
- Stick with:
- Packaged baby spinach
- Plain yogurt
- Plain cheese
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Limit added sugar
- The recommended daily amount of sugar per day for women is 6 teaspoons/day
- The recommended daily amount of sugar per day for men is 9 teaspoons/day
- LImit sodas, candy, baked goods
- Don’t worry about natural sugar levels in fruit and dairy
- Watch your sodium intake
- It’s recommended you get 2,300 miligrams of sodium/day – which is one teaspoon
- Use in place of salt: herbs, spices, citrus, vinegar
*As usual SplitFit recommends you consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any new diet.
Image Credit: www.abc.net.au