From health magazines to Instagram, the clean eating trend is really making a statement. Odds are, those gorgeously-styled foodie photos you see popping up everywhere will be followed by hashtags like #cleaneating or #eatclean.

But what exactly is ”clean eating?” Is it healthier? And is everything else dirty eating?

The term “clean eating” is relatively vague; in reality the diet is deceptively simple: Be more mindful of what you consume and focus on whole foods (sometimes called “real” foods) instead of those that are hyper-processed, chemically-edited and made in a factory.

In some sense, the clean eating diet is similar to what you’d call a “whole fomeaods diet” or “raw,” simply because of its focus on farm-to-table produce like fresh veggies. Meals that focus on these principles have a tendency to be naturally healthier, due to the omission of chemically-processed additives and the bent toward eating foods as-is, nutrients intact.

What counts as processed foods (AKA not clean)?
Processed foods are usually pretty easy to identify. Processing includes anything that falls under one of these categories:

Foods with ingredient components that you can’t pronounce.

Foods with purposeful additions of salt, sugar or fat to enhance flavor unnecessarily, or the addition of preservatives.

Foods that have changed form. Examples: removing wheat germ from grains to create a processed-refined bread, or smashing tomatoes into a jarred sauce. Even steaming your green beans counts.

Ultimate Caveat: Processing is not always bad. Often processing helps us cleanse, manage or store the foods that we buy – canning fruit or freezing berries are great examples of this. There’s nothing inherently wrong with steaming your broccoli for dinner. Why? Because it’s still broccoli.

If you want to eat clean, processing isn’t the ultimate sin, as long as it’s minimal; just keep an eye out for foods that are “over-processed,” like a chicken pot pie you bought in the frozen foods section at the supermarket or blue box mac-n-cheese. Products like these are often jam-packed with GMOs and other chemicals that have been linked to cancer and infertility and are utterly bankrupt of all the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.

Why would you want that?
Another tip? Keep an eye out for products that sound healthy, simply because of marketing wording like “vitamin-enriched” or “sugar-free.” Odds are, they accomplished those claims by adding chemical replacements to natural sugars, etc.

How to Eat Clean, Simply
1) Eat tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, and consume them as close to the way nature delivered it as you possibly can. This ensures you are getting all the goodness it has to offer you, without any dangers.

2) Buy foods that are what they say they are. If you can’t pronounce the label or it has an ingredient list miles long, don’t eat it. You are buying into a false sense of wholesomeness and perpetuating the products of companies who don’t care about your health. Opt for fresh produce instead!

3) Learn about the qualities of food and eat accordingly. All foods have naturally-embedded nutritional qualities that will make all the difference in your health. Look for calcium and iron in greens like kale or broccoli, or Vitamin A in the carrots you eat. They are there for you, so seek them out!

4) Avoid processed foods and only tolerate frozen, canned and conventionally-grown products if you know and trust the ingredients. There is nothing inherently wrong with purchasing frozen butternut squash instead of a whole one in the produce aisle (other than the environmental reason). But there’s a huge difference between making your own lasagna and eating whatever it is the supermarket is selling. If you’re on the go, canned tuna won’t kill you; but try to favor fresh fish whenever you can. Watch your labels.

Clean eating isn’t the end-all-be-all of diets. But it is certainly a better way to approach food, in that it forces you to truly, deeply consider what it is you eat and why. We hope this inspires you!


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