What is Clean Eating?
The clean-eating craze is reaching a whole new level of popularity, inspiring millions of influencers across all social media platforms. Though the trend of clean eating isn’t new, it is a hot topic now among food bloggers, food magazines, and cookbooks.
The phrase “clean eating” originated with a clear intention, but it lacks a proper definition and set of guidelines for following it. It usually implies eating loads of real and whole foods like vegetables, fruits, plant- and animal-based proteins, whole grains, seeds, oils, and nuts. The only easily-identifiable meaning that can be derived from the phrase “clean eating” is to choose food items that are as close to nature as possible. This means that the food you choose should not be packaged, processed, or originate from a factory. Clean eating promotes cooking fresh food ingredients at home.
A clean eating mindset entails checking sources, reading labels, and learning about the benefits of the food that you are eating. This is a good habit and widely encouraged. Nonetheless, clean eating is an amorphous term that is applied to a wide range of dietary beliefs. Eating healthy has no clear set of rules.
When does Clean Eating become unhealthy?
Clean eating is not always as healthy as it sounds, especially when it is used to discriminate between food choices. While fresh vegetables and fruits are considered to be good or righteous, desserts and sweets are labeled as sinful or guilty pleasures.
Adapting a clean eating lifestyle may not be as beneficial to you as it sounds. Clean eating is a way to eat most of the nutrient-rich and healthy foods out of each group while eating less or none of the unhealthy ones. It is a diet strategy that revolves around restrictive patterns and excludes food items viewed as “impure,” “unhealthy,” and “dirty” like dairy, sugar, and gluten-containing foods. With its widespread popularity, clean eating can often be misleading. The concept categorizes food items into good and bad, thereby associating guilt with certain kinds of foods.
Misleading Nature of Clean Eating
With clean eating, it is believed that if you are not following the guidelines, then your food habits are bound to be bad, lazy, dirty, and unhygienic. However, this is highly misleading. Studies have revealed that clean eating guidelines are often confused with a healthy diet plan. Omitting food groups like protein and carbohydrates out of one’s diet can have adverse health effects like an increased risk of gut cancer, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes. Eliminating dairy products without adequate substitutes also negatively impacts bone health. The clean-eating dietary strategy often leads to a negative relationship with food. That can lead to eating disorders, which can hamper your health, mood, and performance.
Adopt a Balanced and Healthy Dietary Routine
Rather than viewing food as clean or dirty, good or bad, simply see them as means of nourishment. It is absolutely not essential to exclude anything and everything out of your diet. Being mindful about your food choices helps you go the extra mile. Here are certain guidelines to help you maintain a balanced and healthy diet rather than blindly following the clean eating cheat code:
Social Media is a Resource, Not a Guidebook
Use social media to consider health goals that inspire you and make it easier for you to follow. Get rid of the formulaic concepts because what works for others may not work for you.
Eat Plants More Often
Make more of your meals vegetable-based and add components that help you make your meal not only wholesome but also truly balanced. However, this does not mean only focusing on vegetables. Eat smart and throw the obsession over clean versus dirty stands out the window.
Move Beyond a Salad/Grain Bowl
Eating vegetables does not necessarily mean eating out of a salad bowl all the time. Consider tweaking the bowl to fit your lifestyle instead, like adding vegetables, sushi, or some fruits to your snack. The aim is to add healthy ingredients to the foods that you already love and make them wholesome and healthy meals.
Start Eating Food and Not Claims
Brands add the tag “healthy” to their food products and often claim them to be the best choice for your diet. There is a commercial reason behind this. Though they are not completely wrong on their part, it is the food that helps you derive essential health benefits and not particular nutrients alone.
“Whole” Can Be Better Than “Fresh”
Fresh foods are wonderful choices but don’t ignore items that are equally nutritious. Frozen fruits and vegetables, lentils, low-sodium beans, and chickpeas are amazing alternatives and are relatively economic too. Focusing on eating real and whole foods should be given precedence.
Eliminate the Harmful
Totally cut out on eating food that contains harmful pesticides, preservatives, additives, huge concentrations of salt and sugar, refined grains, and unhealthy fat. It will surely benefit your health immensely even if you are not “clean eating.”
Keeping clean eating diets in mind, it is noteworthy that no individual food is good or bad and no one food is nutritionally whole. Nutritional wellness is a combination of healthy food items that constitutes an overall balanced diet. Such a balanced choice will keep you in good health. Eating a diet replete with vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and lean protein, along with calorie-rich food once or twice a week is good for your body and soul. It ensures a better you today and tomorrow.
You might also like our Kitchari – A Gentle Ayurvedic Cleanse blog post.