There was a time when I didn’t know exactly what that meant either. It seemed kinda… complicated.
But one day a friend pointed out to me that I DID, indeed, know what it meant to eat clean and that I had actually DONE it.
When she said that, of course I was like, “Huh??”
She went on to tell me that, because I was a raw fooder at one point, I was already eating clean!
Then the light bulb went off.
“OHHH… now I get it!”
But the clean eating I was doing at the time was actually taken a step further than what it tends to mean to most people nowadays because, I wasn’t even COOKING the food!
That’s a whole other conversation for another day, though. Anyway…
So, What Exactly DOES It Mean to Eat Clean?
The simplest way to put it is that, you are eating foods as close to their natural state as possible, with little-to-no processing.
Now, granted, when I was eating the raw plant-based ‘diet’, I DID make raw dishes/recipes that required blending ingredients together such as nuts, carrots, celery and seasonings to make nut pates or “burgers”; but there weren’t any weird ingredients and it was just processed in a food processor or blender.
In other words, it didn’t undergo the extreme processing that most processed foods on grocery store shelves do.
Does that make sense?
So NOW when people mention clean eating or eating clean… they may not be eating the foods in their raw, living state, but it’s still a matter of keeping things as simple as they can with one protein, one vegetable and one carbohydrate such as:
- a meal of chicken breast, spinach, and sweet potato or…
- white fish, broccoli, and brown rice or even…
- a bowl of (homemade) chili made with ground turkey or beef, veggies, beans, tomatoes and seasonings
… things like that.
Need more examples?
Okay, from the perspective of “improving your health one day, one step, one bite at a time“… eating clean would be the difference between:
- buying a box of pancake mix vs. making your own with just flour, baking powder, buttermilk, sea salt and eggs (or however you make them… just thought of that on the fly) or…
- canned biscuits vs making them from scratch with just a few ingredients such as flour, baking powder, sea salt, buttermilk, and lard or…
- using taco seasoning mix from a packet vs. combining your own seasonings such as onion powder, garlic powder, salt, chili powder, etc.
And depending on who you ask, some of even those ingredients wouldn’t be considered totally “clean” if say, the chili powder included anything other than dried, ground up chili peppers; such as anti-caking agents.
But in all honesty, if someone really wants to get technical about the whole processing thing, COOKING alters the food by changing the chemical composition of it.
Putting It All Into Perspective…
The important thing to remember is that unless you are exclusively living off the land; eating only freshly grown fruit, veggies, and meat from animals that you raise and/or kill yourself – no one eats TOTALLY clean & pristine!
Again, the whole idea behind clean eating is to refrain from eating boxed, canned, pre-packaged foods as much as possible and to eat a diet consisting MAINLY of foods in their whole forms with minimal processing.
Eat fewer foods that are marketed as being “quick” or “easy” to prepare because you’re microwaving or “just adding water” to it and go back to the way our grandmas did it… get the ingredients, get in that kitchen, and cook it yourself!
Hopefully that makes sense and helps you to better understand what clean eating is – at least from my perspective!