What do we mean by, ‘Clean eating’, such a marketing and buzz phrase? Clean eating is a term often used to describe eating wholefoods, with minimal or no processing, as close to their natural form as possible. It usually involves a diet with wholegrains,plenty of vegetables and fresh fruit, lean meats, seafood, nuts, seeds and minimal or no added sugars, alcohol or highly processed foods. That is fantastic, and the way we should be eating. Australians eat too many discretionary foods and a poor diet contributes to the global burden of disease related reduce the I think I call it healthy eating! There is no official definition.
Health professionals, including dietitians, have been encouraging people to eat like this for a long time. It isn’t a new concept, rather a new label. What ever it is called, if we all eat more of these wholefoods, particularly vegetables, we will have a healthier population.
There is sometimes concern when, ‘clean eating’, can be taken further, to market so called healthy restrictions, such as gluten free, lactose free, dairy free,sugar free and the list can go on. These claims do not necessarily make a food healthier. They make the food suitable for people needing to avoid gluten due to an allergy if it is gluten free, or lactose, due to an intolerance.
Gluten free products, for example, are often lower in dietary fibre, because wholegrain wheat, oats and other gluten containing wholegrains can’t be used. These products may have extra poor quality fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars added to make up for the texture the gluten would normally provide. They are generally more processed than a ‘clean’ food would be.
It is important to read food labels, sugar comes in many forms as various syrups, fruit juice concentrates and maltodextrins . These ‘free from’ foods often come with hefty price tags also. These products are not what I would call, ‘clean’.
A diet rich in plant foods requiring minimal processing, along with some animal foods such as lean meats, fish, eggs and dairy if we give it a label will it get people’s attention and help them make positive change? Maybe. Is this now the 'plant based diet?' I think I am more comfortable with this as long as those of us who would like to still eat some animal products are not frowned upon.
Remember whether you ‘eat clean’ or not, it is unnecessary to remove all processed food from your diet. After all, what would life be without a slice of cake on your birthday, an ice cream in summer or some chocolate, (dark of course) and you can take a shower after to ‘keep clean’! Find a balance that you can stick to long term. That is the key to good health.