Looks like a pretty delicious “clean” dish, doesn’t it?
Maybe you’ve heard about “clean eating”, a nutrition concept that’s been popular now for many years. So just what exactly is clean eating? You might be surprised to hear that there’s no really clear definition of the term.
Defining Clean Eating
There’s actually book called “Eating Clean for Dummies” that defines the system of eating as eating more whole foods, less processed food, and reducing refined sugar. You add herbs and spices to give your food flavour rather than sauces and dressings filled with processed oils and other unidentified substances.
Sounds pretty sensible, right?
In general, the idea of clean eating has some merit.
We should be eating more real food in its natural state (a whole steamed piece of broccoli, rather than a mashed, battered and fried piece of broccoli).
The concept seems simple when you’re deciding whether french fries, as opposed to potatoes, are clean or not.
Things can get a bit complicated though.
Is it Really Clean?
The problem with clean eating is that there’s no universal definition of what foods are actually “clean”.
There’s a certain perception, of course, but like with most theories in nutrition there’s no consensus on what a clean food is.
The clean eating philosophy seems to imply that some foods are “good” and some foods are “bad”, but who’s actually choosing the players on each side?
Some nutrition professionals consider soy a healthy food, while others disagree and point to its genetic modification and potential to disrupt hormones.
If you came from a Vegan standpoint then no animal products would be considered clean. For most bodybuilders and fitness competitors, asparagus, chicken breasts, and lean meats are clean, but what about chicken drumsticks and bacon?
The Paleo contingent believes that grains are not clean, and in most cases dairy isn’t either, but grass-fed beef is, even if it’s very high in fat. And fat is the enemy, right? Or should fat actually be a relatively large portion of the diet?
There’s no agreement.
For my Online Coaching clients, fat certainly plays a role in health and maintaining a fit physique. Carbs also play a role.
Protein also plays a role. It just depends on the person and that person’s goals.
Your Kind Of Clean Eating
I’m not going to debate who’s right and who’s wrong in terms of food “cleanliness”…that’s several more blog posts of discussion!
A diet of whole foods like vegetables, fruits, minimally-processed meats, fish, nuts, some dairy, and unrefined oils and fats would be a massive improvement over what the majority of people eat.
Is It Necessary To Eat Only Clean?
You can be very lean and healthy and consume regular treat foods like chocolate (my fave!), chips, muffins, or brownies.
It all comes down to quantity and frequency.
Regular, planned treats can be a great way of maintaining changes in your nutrition plan.
So try not to worry whether your food is clean or feel that only certain foods can be a part of a healthy get-lean plan.
A sensible, more moderate approach is likely to be more sustainable that banning “unclean” foods.