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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