A current trend in food, clean eating's not about the actual cleanliness of food, but rather choosing minimally processed, ethically raised foods rich in naturally occurring nutrients.
Rachel Trammell, a registered dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, says “eating clean” means different things to different people.
“Some people think it means to wash your food before you it,” she said. “Some think it means don’t eat food you can’t pronounce. Other people think it means eating fresh food only.”
Trammell says the basics and rewards are similar to any healthy diet.
“Eating more fruits and vegetables, more whole foods like meats and nuts and seeds and grains, things like that. You'll feel better.”
Ways To Start EatingClean:
- Eat more vegetables and fruits. Should they be fresh or preferably organic? “I'm guessing that is one thing that dietitians kind of alter from the clean eating mindset, right? Because we love frozen vegetables and canned vegetables that don't have extra salt, because when something is frozen, it's taken at the peak of its season. All that good flavor is still there. Whereas when you buy fresh, sometimes it's been sitting there awhile and fresh is good. But you can get really cheap fruits and vegetables frozen. And there they're really great.”
- Limit processed foods, not eliminate them: “It begs the question, what is processed food right now? Butternut squash or something already done for us is processed food. Is it bad? No, it's great. But ultra-processed food, like box dinners, maybe mac and cheese, some frozen things or fast food - those things we definitely need to limit.”
- Avoid packaged snack foods: “Some protein bars are pretty much candy bars that have a label that says it's a protein bar and that makes you think that it's healthier, but there's a lot of sugar it. That's why you want to read the [nutrition] label."
- Choose food from ethically raised animals: “Let's use eggs for an example: caged free eggs vs. pasture-raised eggs vs. regular everyday eggs. It can be confusing because what does that label actually mean? Regular eggs: the hens can be in a cage and not moving around. Cage-free eggs means that they're all in one room together. They may not be able to move around. And then, pasture-raised eggs are from hens that are just roaming around in some grass.”
Is there that much of a difference in nutrition? “Not really. It's more an animal welfare kind of concern.”
Eating clean sounds expensive: “Exactly. If we just focus on eating more whole foods like fruits and vegetables and having whole grains, things like that, you can do that pretty inexpensively and simply. Because do you really have an hour to make a smoothie bowl or a special meal every single day? No, but there are ways that we can fit in better habits.”