If you have ever asked yourself, “What is clean eating?” then you are not alone. Eating clean is a buzz phrase that has been getting a lot of play in the media in the last few years. But it has not always been clear what clean eating actually means.
So What Is Clean Eating Anyway?
Clean eating is a way of eating that focuses on natural, whole, mostly unprocessed foods. Clean eating is not a weight loss plan. It is simply a way of eating that includes very specific foods. The focus when eating a clean diet is on fruits, vegetables, meats and grains in their most natural, unprocessed form.
Eat This, Not That
When you are wondering, “what is clean eating?” it is perhaps helpful to know what it is not. The opposite of clean eating would be consuming pizza, pasta, baked goods or fried chicken. When you eat clean you try to munch meals that include side dishes like steamed broccoli (or any vegetable), baked potatoes, salad, fruit or crudités.
For those who are wondering what is clean eating when it comes to entrees, they can include grilled chicken, omelets, homemade chili, steak, and baked turkey. In essence, eating clean is going back to how humans used to eat in previous centuries. This was before there was a fast-food restaurant at every corner and grocery stores packed with processed foods and meals ready to heat and serve.
The idea behind clean eating is to get back to consuming fresh, mainly unprocessed foods that contain their full nutritional value. As an added bonus, they aren’t stuffed full of preservatives, additives, colorings and flavor enhancers. The main reason for choosing to stick to a clean diet is to simply eat healthier.
How Clean Is Clean?
How “clean” you make your diet is up to you. Some proponents of this way of eating insist that you should only consume completely unprocessed foods. Others are comfortable enjoying things like butter, cheese, cured meats and cultivated vegetables like sauerkraut. Your level of clean eating is up to you. Even “cleaning up” your diet even a little bit could make a big difference. You could start by cutting out fast food burgers and creating healthy make-ahead meals instead.
6 Tips For Eating Clean
- Fill up your plate with mostly raw or cooked vegetables.
- Want to go meatless? Cook up some rice or bake a potato and round it all up with a little fruit and cheese for dessert.
- Find a couple of go-to meals you like and build your weekly meals around those dishes.
- Keep some fresh and dried fruit along with some seeds and nuts handy for those times you feel a snack attack coming on.
- When it comes to drinks, water and herbal teas are your best friend. Black coffee is another good choice, though you should enjoy it in moderation.
- Be careful about adding sweeteners, oils, cream, and other condiments. They can make a clean meal rather unhealthy.
What Is Clean Eating Food List
This is not an exhaustive list of course, but if you are looking for some foods that fall into the clean eating way of being. When in doubt, try one of these foods.
- Fresh fruit
Apples, grapes, pineapples, bananas, blueberries, oranges, strawberries or peaches
Avocados, broccoli, celery, peppers, Brussels sprouts, radish, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, onion, salsa, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
- Lean protein
Beans, eggs, fresh fish, chicken, no sugar added nut butter, nuts, tofu
Anything made with whole grains, air-popped popcorn, whole oats, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta
- Dairy products
Cheese, milk, plain or Greek yogurt, unsweetened non-dairy milk,
What about snacks?
Yes, you can snack when you are eating clean. In fact, you can snack on clean foods all day long! There’s no limit to the amount of food you can have when you are eating this way. It may be hard to find healthy snacks that fit your clean diet while you’re out and about though.
And it may take you a little while to get used to the “real” taste of food after eating foods that are laden with sugar, salt and flavor enhancers. However, once your taste buds adjust, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how delicious real food actually tastes.
What is clean eating? It is a way to give your body the fuel it is looking for to achieve your goals. It might seem hard at first but your body will thank you for making the change to clean eating.
I am a home cook that does things my way. In my kitchen, I make breakfast, pack lunches, prepare snacks, and cook dinner. During the week, we eat real food that is homemade, organic, and local. On the weekends we do explore more of our local restaurants. I bake my own bread, juice fresh oranges every other day, and make my own kombucha and other weekly favorites.