Hot Topic: Clean Eating

by in Food News, July 20, 2011
woman eating tomato
How clean is your diet?

Clean Eating is a term that’s been thrown around a lot lately, only it’s not necessarily understood. We’ll explain what it is and if it’s advisable to eat this way.

What Is It?
Although you’ll find Clean Eating “diets”- it’s more of a way of living than a temporary weight loss solution. The term Clean Eating is relatively new, but it dates back to the 1960s when the natural health food movement looked down on diets filled with processed foods.

Author Terry Walters helped fuel the Clean Eating movement into mainstream America. According to the author of Clean Food and Clean Start, it’s all about consuming natural, unprocessed foods. Her philosophy is:

  • Eat a varied diet
  • Eat a rainbow of colors
  • Enjoy food and mealtime
  • Eat locally grown and seasonal food
  • Eat all 5 tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami)

This means eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins (a.k.a. real food) instead of fast food or highly processed, packaged foods, and giving new foods a try that you may not recognize at the farmers market— a lot like Dana’s Market Watch series.

Is It Recommended?
Eating whole, unprocessed foods is something many people don’t do enough of. Choosing highly processed foods which have a laundry list of ingredients that you don’t recognize is not the healthiest choice. This doesn’t mean you need to eat clean 100% of the time or even 80% of the time. Do what’s right for you. Here are some ways to eat cleaner:

  • Find a local farmers market and pay them a visit.
  • Instead of buying jarred salad dressing or tomato sauce, make your own.
  • Add more fruits and vegetables to your meals.
  • Choose whole grains over processed ones (such as brown rice over white).
  • Instead of sugar-laden sodas and calorie-filled specialty coffee, opt for water, freshly made lemonade or iced tea.
  • Pay attention to where the produce you choose is imported from. Regulations vary from country to country on how they grow food– choose locally grown or organic food that hasn’t traveled across half the world and hasn’t been treated with a variety of chemicals.

Bottom Line: Clean Eating is a way of living, not a diet plan. Eating less processed foods is always a positive thing, but you need to decide what’s right for you and how far you want to take it.

TELL US: How clean is your diet?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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Comments (166)

  1. geoff says:

    tryin to eat healthy is really hard.. if anyone can give me a few pointers on wat to eat im tryin to get in shape for my wedding… i have 9 months to lose over 80 pounds plse if anyone can help me out id appreciate it

    • Terry says:

      Hi Geoff, Focus on eating a rainbow of colors with extra emphasis on greens and get moving by adding exercise like a morning or evening walk to your routine (or both). Get rid of the packaged foods and focus on whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits. One healthy choice at a time and you'll be feeling great on wedding day!

    • @urbaLiving says:

      I agree Terry. First cut out the processed/prepackaged foods which usually contain trans fat and added sugars. Next, I suggest a raw food cleanse containing mostly fresh pressed juices, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. That's usually all you need to see the weight come off quickly.

    • abetter40 says:

      Hi Geoff. Are you exercising? In addition to eating what's considered clean, you should have an exercise regimen in place. It will help burn off more calories. If you are strapped for time, consider an at-home workout program (I chose P90X, but there are many to chose from) and stick with it. Sorry, but the sugar and alcohol (if you drink) have to go. Eating well, eating small meals regularly throughout the day, and exercising will bring you great results. No, it's not easy, but YES, it will be worth it! You can do it!!

  2. Karen says:

    A healthy diet with no processed foods, lots of water, try the natural sugars, do not drink soft drinks at all. The biggest key is going to be exercise. Walking does the trick for me. Start out with 15 minutes twice per day, then go to 30 minutes twice per day. If you develop some good eating habits now, they will become a way of life and you will not have to ever lose that much weight at any given time again.

  3. Janet says:

    A tip I learned a long time ago is to shop the outer perimeter of the grocery store. Meat, produce, dairy, grains etc… and stay away from the aisles. Obviously you still want to seek out grains, dairy and meats with a health conscious eye. The aisles are the enemy and where the processed foods live. Another general rule of thumb is try to shop adding as few boxes and jars to your cart as possible. With the exception of some spices, things in boxes and jars are mostly processed and less than wholesome.

  4. cate says:

    best advice i can give you is to go for being good about 80% of the time. allow yourself a cheat meal here or there so you don't get burned out. its a lifestyle, not a diet! the biggest thing you want to keep in mind is that you want to loose this 80lbs for life! not just those wedding photos :) if you go on some drastic, severely limiting diet (like cutting all carbs or something) you almost certainly will gain it back. get yourself in the habit of making healthy choices, it will be second nature.

    congrats on the wedding and best of luck to you!

  5. sandy says:

    I have been eating clean for about 6 weeks and have lost over 12 lbs. It really is a no-brainer, and the food is good, you just have to make the decision to get healthy and go for it. Once you really start to eat clean, your body will no longer enjoy when you eat less "healthy" food, or junk food. I would start by getting the Clean Eating magazine, check out the "Gracious Pantry" blog, and exercise at least 3 to 4 days a week. I am so glad that I embarked on this journey, I never felt so good and never had this much energy!

  6. Boymnetedpete says:


    How to reduce tummy without loosing body weight?

    I just wanted to reduce my tummy only without effecting on body weight.


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