Social media has exploded with recipes, diet plans and advice on a phenomenon called “clean eating.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, clean eating is defined as “the practice of eating foods that are regarded as healthy, especially fresh food that has not been processed.” What sounds so bad about that? The problem is the term healthy can be interpreted in many different ways.
The definition of healthy
To the average consumer, the term “healthy” can mean many different things. Trendier food items such as gluten-free products, non-GMO products and products made with coconut oil may be portrayed as healthy, without significant scientific evidence to back up their claims. The media, Internet and food companies often tout the amazing benefits of food products. This marketing often causes consumers to identify the products as healthy, when they may not be nutritious. “Eating clean” does not necessarily equate to being healthy.
Many of the principles of clean eating frown on the consumption of processed foods. A strict diet regimen such as “clean eating” can cause people to stress about food choices and avoid any type of processed foods. Eating should be a pleasurable activity and not a source of stress. A more realistic diet pattern includes some unhealthy foods, enjoyed on occasion without guilt.
Bottom Line: The intentions of the “clean eating” movement are most likely good, but all foods fit into a healthy diet. Unhealthier foods that are higher in sodium, added sugar and saturated fats should be limited, but you can still enjoy them in moderation. Instead of making food choices based on what you cannot have, focus on increasing the healthy foods in your diet. By adding more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, you will likely end up ditching the unhealthier foods without giving them another thought.
Written by: Melissa Kowalkski, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern