How do you define “eating clean”?
I’ve gotten this question a couple of times over the past few weeks, so I decided to do a post on my thoughts about it. I am not a professional so don’t hold me to anything I may say in this post, but I do have to say that I don’t believe there is one right definition for “eating clean”. That’s basically why I wanted to express my opinons, because I don’t believe that it’s a technical term and it can mean something different to everyone. However, the most generally accepted would probably be Whole 30 as it focuses on detoxing the system.
So, first things first. What do you think of when you hear “eating clean”? Here are a few things I am sure come to mind for most people:
- cutting out processed foods..
- meat, chicken, fish, fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds..
- grass fed, free range, cage-free, etc..
- paleo, whole 30..
- food that has been scrubbed with soap?
Now, for the issues regarding the above.
- A lot of people will post a picture of greek yogurt or oatmeal and hashtag #eatclean, right? Guess what? Both oatmeal and (most) dairy products are processed. I am not saying these foods are bad for you; just saying that they are processed, even if it’s minimally.
- Non grass-fed beef, farmed seafood, and non antibiotic/hormone free chicken: clean? Some would argue. If anything, you lose out on the omega fatty acids.
- If it’s not organic, is it still clean? Does it depend on the fruit or vegetable in question here?
- Did you use olive oil or canola oil to cook your veggies? Are those white or sweet potatoes?
- Peanut butter and lentils are paleo, right? Wrong. Legumes/beans are off limits too, not just dairy and grains. No tofu either!
- What’s the difference between Whole 30 and Paleo? Whole 30 is like Paleo on steroids; eat food as it naturally occurs, no paleo-fied treats, no sugars like maple syrup, honey, etc. So, I can’t have paleo pizza or almond flour pancakes? NOPE!
Alright, now that we cleared that up, do you think differently about what “eating clean” means to you?
My point of all of this is not to define eating clean, but to encourage you to learn about the foods you are eating and find what works for you. Read about paleo and whole30, read about the benefits of grass fed beef, read about the dangers of sugar and decide for yourself. Eating clean to one person may mean doing Whole30 with organic products only, and to another includes 0% greek yogurt, oatmeal, beans, and farm raised salmon. A lot of foods, though (minimally) processed, still contain a great nutritious profile.
My Eating Habits
I am sure you are wondering my personal opinion and what I typically eat. Well, if it was a perfect world and all organic fruits and vegetables, grass fed beef, and wild seafood were cheap, I’d definitely include them in every meal. About 50% of what I eat is organic or grass fed/wild. Additionally, I eat eggs and Chobani and yes, I include cheese, though mostly parmesan for topping. I do eat oatmeal, ezekiel bread, and quinoa as far as grains are concerned. I eat almond butter AND peanut butter, and sometimes they have added sugars. I use stevia and soy creamer in my coffee. I eat all kinds of hummus, chick pea, black bean, and lentil, with lentil chips. I often enjoy tuna from a can. I always buy organic spinach for my smoothies and I eat sweet potatoes whenever I want. I eat a lot of (high glycemic) bananas and protein bars like Quest and ThinkThin. I use whey protein powder. I only use coconut oil and olive oil. I eat sushi with brown rice and dip it in low sodium soy sauce. I like bacon and try to buy uncured and nitrate/nitrite free. I can probably go on more but I’ll stop here.
Then there’s Sunday, where I typically eat pizza and fries and cake and chocolate and drink wine, beer and manhattans. Not counting my cheat meals, my opinion is that I eat pretty clean. Although, I do notice how much better I feel when I cut out dairy, grains, and beans but would never be able to eliminate them totally. I focus on getting enough protein, good fats, and carbs from meats, seafood, chicken, and vegetables.
So when people ask me “what is eating clean?”, it’s pretty hard to answer. I think it’s safe to say if you aren’t eating anything from a box that says “fat free oreos”, you are doing better than a lot of people. Eat real food. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Don’t fall into the fat free and no added sugar trap. Educate yourself. And last but not least, eat what works for you, not what works for someone else.
- What does eating clean mean to you?