What exactly is “Clean Eating”?

Over the years, there has been a lot of controversy regarding clean eating with a lot of people and health experts having their own definition and meaning associated with it.

So what exactly is it? Does it mean that you don’t take any junk? Live off fruits and vegetables? Do you have to go the vegan way and give up meat?

Today we unearth all there is to know about Clean Eating.

On the bottom line, clean eating is deliberately avoiding processed and refined food and turning to whole natural food instead. It entails turning away from food with added salts and sugar and consuming food that are nutritious and that bring beneficial purposes to our bodies.

Now that we have a general overview about it, let’s break down the myths we have all been told about Clean Eating.

Myths about clean eating

Myth 1 : Food becomes boring.

Foods such as fries, burgers and pizzas are seen as more eccentric than vegetables such as kales, cabbage, and broccoli. In fact, a lot of people want to be associated with the former instead of the latter.

Say you’re face timing two of your friends, one shows you a plate of broccoli they’ve just made and another shows you the pizza box that they’re about to open. Both friends invite you over for the night, which house would you go to?

The one with the pizza right?

Our brains are so funny, they’ll associate the pizza with a fun exciting night but the broccoli to a dull one devoid of stories hence making the pizza house seem like a better option.

This right here, is a mindset that can be changed. This is done by opening your mind and allowing yourself to believe that good food isn’t boring food.

For starters, did you know that there are over 6 ways of making broccoli? Bet you didn’t.

By allowing yourself to step out of the usual method and experimenting with various ways of preparing wholesome foods, you’ll find yourself getting excited to do so. Hence stimulating your appetite and you’ll be reaching for the broccoli more often.

Myth 2: It’s very expensive.

This myth right here has some truth in it. Yes, the groceries you’ll be required to buy will make you dig deeper in your pockets than that burger and fries would have.

However, the longer you ‘cut cost’ with the fries, the deeper you’ll have to dig in your pockets in the long run.

This will come in the form of gym memberships to shed the excess weight and medical bills when you come down with life threatening diseases such as Diabetes and Obesity.

You’ll eventually realize that getting the groceries was a much better option in the end.

Myth 3: You have to count the calories

There has been a lot of attention and buzz concerning calories counting. This has impacted people so much that some simply cannot buy something without checking its calories quantity. It has become second nature to them and something they don’t even notice doing.

Contrary to popular belief, clean eating does not focus on the amount of calories in the food you’re consuming. It instead focuses on the ingredients in your plate. Are they the right type of ingredients packed with nutrients the body needs? This should be the main question.

Now that we’ve addressed the myths, let’s keep finding out the Truth and what Clean Eating actually entails.

The Truth Of the Matter

Clean Eating pertains the following:

Prioritizing Whole food.

Just as we stated earlier, clean eating involves getting enough of the good. Large and nutritious servings of whole food.

These include whole grains such as wheat and barley, eating nuts, healthy fats and pulses including peas and lentils. You could also make some dietal switches like replacing white rice with brown and white bread with brown.

Another important thing is eating fruits, lots and lots of them. As a matter of fact, The United Nations recommends that an adult take no less than five portions of fruits and vegetables a day..

The good thing about this is that you are free to experiment with your ingredients. Making and eating a colorful salad will have you feeling better and more enthusiastic than eating one fruit separately at a time.

Focusing on Plant-Based Foods.

A lot of people believe that they’ll have to let go of animal proteins such as beef and chicken in their pursuit of clean eating. This does not have to be the case. No one should feel forced to pursue vegetarianism unless it’s at will.

The idea is to have more plant-based food than animal proteins in your plate. For every one serving of animal protein, add three servings of plant-based foods

Cutting Back on Alcohol

Excessive consumption of alcohol brings about detrimental effects to our bodies. These include liver cirrhosis, increases inflammation, brings about digestive problems and it also alters the normal functionality of the brain.

It’s best to limit or completely remove alcohol from your diet while following the path to clean eating.

The Downside No one talks about.

Following this path is not easy and it involves a lot of self control. Clean Eating is only beneficial when you do it for your health but it can turn and become toxic when you develop an unhealthy obsession over it. This is a medical condition termed as orthorexia nervosa.

A mental illness that breeds a pang of overbearing guilt when the person eats anything processed or refined. In worst cases, the person ostracizes themselves from others in their attempt to avoid food they term as ‘dirty’.

The illness goes ahead to create anxiety in the person and instead of the foods being good for them, they have a negative toll on their mental health.

To conclude, the main key is finding balance while pursuing this journey. You can eat cleanly five times a week and order your favorite pizza the next two days. Or you could bring it down to only one cheat day a week.

Remember that the goal at the end of the day is good health. If you slip and fall, pick yourself up and keep trying and I can assure you that you’ll get there. Step by step and one day at a time.


What is Clean Eating? Katherine Zeratsky, R.D,L.DMonique Tello, MD, MPH. Mayo Clinic, April 2020.
The Truth about Clean Eating Rachel Nall, MSN,CRNA. Medical News Today, February,2018.

11 Simple Ways to Start Clean Eating Franziska Spritzler. Healthline, April,2019.

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