Clean eating means something different to everyone at this point. There’s a movement of people eating all kinds of different diets. Some of them are healthier than others but everyone on these diets is still using the term “clean eating” regardless of what they’re eating. 

When you look up clean eating on the internet you get a list of things such as avoiding refined and processed foods, eat whole foods, eat organic foods, avoid dirty dozen foods, eat the rainbow, avoid oil, eat vegan, avoid grains, drink only water, don’t drink alcohol, never BBQ your food etc. etc. etc. The list can go on and on. Let’s break this down a little bit. 

Clean eating is what’s best for YOUR body. Just because someone eats meat, grains or BBQ doesn’t necessarily make them unhealthy. It depends on you and your body and how you feel. It also depends on what you do 80%-90% of the time. If you eat what is considered a healthy diet for you most of the time, then rarely eating something considered less healthy in moderation shouldn’t make a huge difference. 

Lets first discuss “diets”:

I’d first like to mention diets aren’t the way. They don’t last there’s too many rules and most “diets” don’t work. Lifestyle change is a life change. Something you believe in that will last a lifetime. If you’re just going to go on a diet for 30 or 60 days it probably won’t result in a permanent lifestyle change. When you have lost your weight and are feeling better. Will you go back to your old ways? Studies show 85% of people gain the weight back and go back to their old ways. 

Ok lets talk diets that claim to have “clean foods” and a sustainable lifespan.

Keto Diet: a high fat diet that eliminates all grains, fruit and carbohydrates. Focusing all of your calories on fat. This diet works for losing weight however this isn’t a sustainable way of eating and can defiantly come with some adverse effects. 

The Carnivore diet: a diet that eliminates everything including fruits and some vegetables. You focus on fat and protein only mostly red meat. Again not ideal for health, but many on this diet claim they’re eating “clean” by not eating toxic veggies. This diet again isn’t suitable and will come with adverse side effects even deficiencies.

Paleo Diet: a more sustainable life style as you’re basically on a dairy free, gluten and grain free diet.  Your diet will be made up of the large consumption of fruits, nuts, seeds, and veggies. This diet has been known to reduce inflammation. 

Gluten-free diet: a sustainable lifestyle that many people are on for health reasons such as gluten intolerance or celiac disease. You can still enjoy some grains such as rice or oatmeal. This diet has been known to help reduce inflammation especially in the stomach. 

Vegan diet: a sustainable way of life for many people today. There are many meat alternatives for people who follow this lifestyle. This diet eliminates all dairy and animals products. Only eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.  

Mediterranean diet: one of the most studied diets out there. Is known for being very sustainable and is great for reducing inflammation in the body. This diet focuses on fruits, veggies, olive oil, fish and beans. They eat grains such as homemade bread a pasta but its rare. 

DASH diet: a diet meant to be sustainable and meant to help people fight hypertension. Focusing on fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. This diet eliminated high fat meats and full fat foods such as full fat cheeses. This diet and the Mediterranean diet are both ranked as the “best overall diets.” According to some. 

Some of these diets work for a short period of time and some last a lifetime. It’s all about finding what works best for you and your specific needs. 

Some people who focus on “clean eating” may find that focusing on their consumption of “healthy” foods can be stressful and they can become obsessed with it. Leading to an unhealthy relationship with food and sometimes the feeling of guilt around food. Food should be enjoyed and not a stressor. 

A great list to follow when trying to consume “clean foods” (meaning less pesticides in this case) is the dirty dozen and clean fifteen list. This list is a great way to make sure the produce you consume isn’t filled with toxic pesticides. The list comes out every year speaking about the foods that are least and most heavy sprayed with pesticides. According to the United States of Agriculture Pesticide data program. 

For example here’s a few of the “clean 15 items” meaning these are the least sprayed with pesticides. and you can feel comfortable buying these non-organic: 

Avocado

Papaya

Asparagus

Cauliflower

Broccoil

Mushrooms

Cabbage 

 Here is a list of some of the “dirty dozen” food items that are heavily sprayed and should be purchased organic:

Apples

Strawberries

Kale

Peaches

Celery

Potatoes 

Tomatoes 

This is a literal way of speaking about “clean eating” by eliminating pesticides in your diet. Which can actually help lower inflation and the toxin load in your body. 

Now last but not least a healthy diet isn’t necessarily a “clean” diet. 

The words “clean diet” or “clean eating” is associated with restriction and eliminating processed packaged foods. Which may or may not be a bad idea for you. In general the fact that there are so many different approaches to healthy eating there is really no scientific data explaining what exactly “clean eating” is. 

As a nutritionist I recommend focusing your diet around a variety of whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and legumes. Avoiding the things that may be adding to your discomfort. We can isolate these foods through your nutrition evaluation. Focus on a lifestyle plan that you can stick with that is sustainable and adds joy to your life. If you notice a part of your lifestyle that is adding unwanted stress or anxiety change it swiftly. You should enjoy the food you’re eating and not feel guilt around it. Which ever lifestyle change you decide to stick with make sure it will provide long term results and add vibrancy to your health.