Thursday, September 2, 2010

clean eating

As a Featured Health Editor for Healthbuzz, I’ll be publishing a variety of posts about clean eating in the month of September. I’ve heard this term floating around the blogworld for months, but it’s not clearly defined and rarely presented from an evidence-based standpoint.

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What is clean eating?

To me, clean eating means consuming products as close to nature as possible. This means focusing on a diet of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains and limiting consumption of highly processed foods. I do want to point out that processed foods are not necessarily harmful. It is our abuse of these foods that makes them harmful. One cheeseburger will not cause heart disease, but eating 3 cheeseburgers a day for 3 years may give you a run for your money.

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Why should we participate in clean eating?

A steady diet of processed foods may lead to health problems. Processed foods are often calorie laden and contain high levels of sodium, sugar (the number one food additive in the US), and fat. When we crowd our diets with these foods, we leave out nutrient-rich foods that contain the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to run.

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Controversies in clean eating?

To some, clean eating means elimination of all animal products, including dairy. To others, this means abstaining from added sugars. I think clean eating is very personal; each person’s diet can be adjusted differently to achieve benefits. If you’re currently eating a diet heavy in red meat, you may reduce consumption to 1-2x a week. If you’re eating a diet of mostly convenience foods, you may decide to pack a sandwich 2 days out of the 5 day workweek. Clean eating should be achieved without judgment, peer pressure, or feelings of superiority.

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What it is and what it’s not.

I think clean eating should evolve into more of a lifestyle as it is practiced. Most everyone can benefit from consuming more vegetables. Clean eating should not be a sort of wacky detox diet that is used to make up for poor eating choices. To experience benefit, clean eating should be implemented continually.

Future Posts

You may see new posts on the Healthbuzz site, but you can also expect to see some previously written posts, as well. Feel free to email me with questions you may have concerning this topic!

How do you define clean eating?

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26 comments:

  1. i didn't know you were a health editor there! way cool (or maybe i did know it but forgot?)

    i guess for me clean eating is eating mostly whole foods and the least processed stuff out there. i consider myself a clean eater though and i do enjoy ice cream and other processed snacks so clean eating isn't restrictive in my eyes that way some people take it

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  2. I personally hate the term because clean to me means the opposite of dirty and I think our whole food supply at this time should be leaning more towards clean versus dirty as we know more about food safety. I also see this as a term used for religious definition when it comes to foods. Kosher slaughtered meat, for example, is considered clean. I think the variety of meanings for this only creates more confusion and the term seems like a buzz word more geared towards a fad, since I think it will eventually fade (probably because it can mean multiple things). I just think it confuses consumers in lower economic classes because they may hear this buzz word and think they are poor so they are served dirty food and that eating foods that are clean (assuming meaning clean as in free of dirt and disease) is something that they wealthy or better off get to enjoy. That's just my personal opinion. I really do not like the way it is being used now. Maybe that is just my public health background talking (because I studied a lot of food safety issues and diseases from "dirty" foods).

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  3. I agree with your philosophy on clean eating! I think the less processed, the better. I also prefer local and/or organic products whenever possible.

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  4. Very very nice post. Thanks so much. And I'll have to check you out over there too! :)

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  5. Hi Emily - love the topic and your post. Looking forward to reading more from you on this!

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  6. I'd never heard of CLEAN eating until you brought it up. I've since heard or read the term in two places.

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  7. I am SO looking forward to these posts! I'm always looking for a way to eat "cleaner," but since coming to college it seems like I rely a lot on processed bars. Can't wait to see what you have to say!!

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  8. I use the term "clean eating" from time to time, but have also discovered that many people have no idea what that means! I definitely agree that it means different things to different people, which I definitely don't see as a bad thing. To me it means eating lots whole foods, not processed, etc.

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  9. i love seeing posts on clean eating, and another reason i love your blog is because you always feature a balanced lifestyle that incorporates hearty amounts of fresh produce and minimally processed ingredients. not only are clean foods energizing, healthy and taste good, but they are wonderfully appealling to the eyes, and you cant help but feel more satisfied when you eat a meal of fresh-based foods <3

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  10. hey emily! cool post! i like to eat cleanly, as in focus a lot on nourishing my body with whole foods and few processed foods, but i definitely think eating cleanly is different from eating with a healthy mindset. i think eating with a healthy mindset means eating cleanly when possible / most of the time and indulging and just enjoying food the rest of the time. i think for me, that helps to create mental and emotional as well as physical balance.

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  11. I really like your description of clean eating... to be personal!!! :D for me clean eating is just as you said, eat the food as close as possible to its original form. I make simple meals because I want to taste the food in its original taste... and not the condiments we usually put on it. :) looking forward to read more.

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  12. I was so happy to see that you were the editor of the "clean eating" month on Foodbuzz! I'm sure you'll do a great job covering the topic:)

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  13. Nice post! I love the part about clean eating being personal and done without judgment. :) You always write such tactful, rational posts about controversial subjects.

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  14. "Clean eating" is also heavily used in the body building world (think Tosca Reno)-- including the elimination of added sugars and processed foods such as breads. But the body building world is also cited for their use of highly processed protein supplements. Hmm there seems to be a disconnect there...
    I prefer your definition- eating as close to nature as possible. You're right it is personal. To me, clean eating is eating in a way that makes me feel healthy and energized. Great post!

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  15. Clean eating is so important for our overall health and well being. We really are what we eat. You're absolutely right. When you put clean foods in your body, you feel better, do better, and perform better. I also think that its important to allow for an occasional indulgence of course, otherwise, I know for myself, I will feel really deprived. Its all about balance!

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  16. I keep hearing about clean eating, so it was nice to read more about what it actually means! Thanks for the great post :)

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  17. i'm ALL about the clean eating so i'm really excited for this month's healthbuzz! i think there's going to be some great recipes thrown out there :)

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  18. That's so great that you are a FoodBuzz blogger now!! Congrats Emily, what an accomplishment.

    I love that you say that processed foods aren't necessarily BAD, we just abuse them and eat too much (thus making them bad...). It's so true. I eat some processed foods at time, as it's almost impossible not to, but I try to stay as "clean" as possible and choose fresh over processed as often as I can.

    Regarding the soy and PMS, I actually learned about this in Maureen's class! I don't know the mechanism (hehe) but I think it has something to do with soy's similarities to estrogen.

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  19. what a great post! i love that you pointed out not all processed foods are harmful (hello - milk?? tofu? wholegrain bread?) i think it's funny when anyone says they don't eat processed because, well, unless you're eating RAW, you have proocessed food in your diet. i guess my definition of clean eating would be avoiding OVER processed foods, stuff with no nutritional value and with ingredients you can't pronounce. i totally agree: it's a lifestyle, not a quick fix. :)

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  20. Great post! I agree. It's the small things you do to "clean up" your diet :)

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  21. I don't think I could have said it better myself! While it is a buzz word, I believe clean eating is a more moderate and balanced term compared to say 'detox' (I hate that word). I always try to eat healthfully and close to nature about 80-90% of the time and then have lovely processed foods on occassion. To me it's all about balance, nutrient density and lots of vibrant colors :) Great post!

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  22. congrats, Emily!! I got the email from Foodbuzz about you, and am very happy for you! I love your "clean" approach to "clean-eating". It can be very misleading, but balance and moderation is the key. I can't wait to read more about your views on this!

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  23. Very well put! I've been a clean eater for a while now and it's definitely my preferred way of eating. It's definitely a lifestyle, not a "diet" that you would go on for a short period of time (and then probably gain weight back or undo progress). There's nothing worse than a sugar hangover or major energy slump after eating highly processed and refined foods. Just like the saying goes, "we are what we eat"!

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  24. I think for some, clean eating also means avoiding pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, as well as highly processed foods (all foods have to be processed in some way). So eating most foods organic, meats from organic grass fed animals, and free range organic eggs (from someone you know most likely. That is what clean food is to me, free of chemicals and things I don't want to ingest on a daily basis. I say clean food instead of clean eating. Good post, thanks for bringing it to peoples attention. It means so many different things to different people.

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