As a dietitian I hear about diet trends and fads all the time. Recently, one of my coworkers handed me a Prevention Magazine and on the front page in bold bright yellow letters it read: 100 Best Clean Foods. I brought the magazine home and my husband saw it and immediately said “I hate the saying eat clean. What does that even mean?” I told him, when I think of eating clean it means you are eating more whole foods, and limiting-processed foods like cookies, cakes, candy, and sugar laden breakfast cereals.
The truth is there is no official definition of clean eating. This leaves the definition open for your own interpretation. I personally don’t like using the phrase because of that reason. Plus, certain foods would be considered dirty and therefore bad. You also have to consider what processed means. In general, when we think of processed food we think of refined products, like white rice, crackers, cookies and more. But not all processed foods are bad; broccoli, oatmeal, and milk are all processed in some way. As you can see it can get pretty confusing fast. In some sense it seems like the word “clean” has just been substituted for “healthy”.
Instead of thinking about clean foods think about moderation and balanace. I have mentioned in previous posts that I think moderation is very important part of a balanced diet. We should eat foods that are nutrient dense and limit those processed foods that have a lot of added fat, salt and sugar. Notice that I said we should limit but not eliminate foods from our diet. On occasion I have dessert (which is processed) and I don’t feel guilty about have it. Of course your portion is important and what you choose to indulge in makes a difference, but there is room for sweet treats in your diet.
In the end it would be awesome if we could get rid of all these labels and terms we are throwing around. Let’s just get down to the basics and worked towards eating a balanced diet.