What is Clean Eating?
First of all I would like to stress that not all diets (or ways of eating) work the same for everyone. We’re all individuals – just because one thing works for one person it doesn’t mean it will work for another! The reason there are so many diets out there is exactly for that reason. So how do you find the diet that suits you? Well, you need to listen to your body and give it what it needs. This, as you can imagine, will take time. My diet is still not 100% perfect as I still have chronic health problems (eczema, IBS and anxiety) but since I started eating a ‘cleaner’ diet, my health has improved massively – especially my eczema.
My clean eating journey started two years ago, just before I started my website. In fact, one of the main reasons I started this website was to help me stay motivated, learn more about clean eating and share some awesome recipes along the way.
What is clean eating?
The concept of clean eating is quite straightforward. It focuses on eating ‘whole’ and ‘real’ foods rather than focusing on the calorie, fat or carb content. It focuses more on nutrition, which is one of the reasons why I like it. Clean eating is about eating foods that are closest to their original state as possible i.e. foods that have undergone no, or minimal amount of refining and processing. A few decades ago this was not a problem because this is how we ate anyway, but now it’s more of a challenge eating whole foods as we heavily relay on packaged convenient processed foods.
Examples of clean eating
So for example, eating organic butter would be considered ‘cleaner’ than eating a ‘low fat’ spread that has been processed and had stuff added to it, even if it’s lower in fat and has fewer calories, the nutritional value won’t be as good. But again, depending on who you ask, some will tell you to avoid dairy completely while others feel it’s fine to consume dairy as long as it’s organic and in moderation.
Clean eating seems to be different for different people
Even though the concept of this ‘diet’ is simple, many people alter it depending on their needs, which I think is fantastic. No diet should be so ridged that you either follow the ‘rules’ religiously or you should leave it all together.
For example, some clean eaters would avoid drinking dairy milk and substitute it with dairy free alternatives like almond milk, but they would eat cheese and yogurt. Some clean eaters cut out dairy and gluten all together. For them, this makes sense but for others it doesn’t and that’s fine, as long as the main focus is to include whole foods and limit processed foods.
Why avoid processed foods?
There are many reasons why you should avoid processed foods – bearing in mind that not all ‘processed’ foods are the same. If you have to consume some processed foods, try to stick to products that contain no more than 3-6 ingredients!
Here are a few reasons why you should avoid processed foods:
- In a lot of cases, processed food will contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These have been linked to health issues like cancer.
- Most processed food adds little to no nutritional value to your diet.
- Processed foods can become addictive. Usually they’re full of additives (salt, sugar, fat, chemicals…etc) that stimulate the production of dopamine, mimicking the sense of reward, making us crave these foods more and more. In other words, we become addicted to them! That’s why it’s harder to stop reaching out for more crisps and cookies when we’re full compared to say an apple or a banana. With whole foods, our brains know when to tell us to stop, the same doesn’t always apply with processed foods.
If you want to start a clean eating diet but find this all a little too overwhelming, have a look at my tips on how to eat a clean diet.
Additional clean eating resources
- What is Clean Eating? from Clean Eating 101
- 10 Ways to Eat Clean
- The Complete Crash Course on Clean Eating
Everything on my blog is based on my own knowledge/research, experience and personal opinion. I’m not an expert, but I am studying to become a nutritionist and I do a lot of research as I am immensely passionate about nutrition, health and fitness.