Clean Eating: Trendy Buzzword or a New Way to Nourish?

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.51.47 PMNutrition buzzwords are everywhere – Paleo, gluten-free, weight loss, GMO-free, natural, slow-food, vegan, low-sodium, juicing, organic, raw-food – you get the idea.

There was even a photo of ice cubes on a dinner plate as a meal that went viral recently citing to be free of just about everything aforementioned. The notion was that if we take everything out of our food, what’s left?

Even dietitians have different views on what ‘clean eating’ is and if they take part or not. This may be confusing to the consumer, but there are different ways to eat for our varying population and lifestyles across the globe – why does there need to be only one way to diet and nourish ourselves?

If neurologists can differ on primary medications in treating headaches, does nutrition need to be singular? If one medication for depression works in some individuals and not others, is prescribing one particular diet for all such a great idea?

I’m concerned about a few pieces surrounding ‘clean-eating.’ Most importantly, I feel it’s taken over for the word and term ‘diet’ and not necessarily in a good way. I have referenced past food trends in previous newsletters, but they’re worth another example. When we saw our nation eat fat-free – what happened? We all gained weight and the food industry made money through these popular brands. This trend seems to be happening again and again but with different foods and diet trends.

So if you over eat on portions, consume a multitude of caloric and alcoholic beverages, don’t drink any water, and don’t exercise or move your body all weekend what happens? Are you going to ‘eat clean’ on Monday? Does that mean back to the gym or the walking group, drinking smoothies, and taking in a no-carb diet starting Monday through Friday lunch?

What might the term ‘clean eating’ help us with?

  • Making time for nutritious choices
  • Creating environments for exercise every day vs. a few times per week
  • Increasing time spent choosing ingredients and preparing food and meals
  • Creating healthy family and social environments for food (without social media/electronics)
  • Mindful eating
  • Better body image and relationships to food & nutrition

A more careful read of the above seems to be just what respected and go-to dietitians and those in the field of primary care and health have been suggesting all along – without a nod to any diet or food trend.

Eating and choosing nutrition with intention – to nourish your body and be free of trends while eating what is individually best – this is what clean eating means to me.

Clean eating means filling my plate with foods I know to be nutritious, but still watching portions. Because if we follow every trend but still over-consume and under-exercise, guess what? Nothing will change.

Trends on everything come and go – watches, phones, hair, clothes, sneakers, coffee, body types – be yourself, choose what you like to eat for you and your family, eat according to your caloric needs (for weight gain, weight loss or weight maintenance), and move your body. To me, this is a clean lifestyle all around.