Great question--glad you asked. The term "Clean Eating" seems to be thrown around a lot these days, and you may be wondering what the heck that generic sounding term means. Well, for starters, it sounds very generic because it is. Clean Eating is somewhat subjective in that there is room for a little negotiation here--mind you, I said a little. Basically though, "Clean" food is nutritious food that's as close to it's natural, unadulterated state as possible. Ok, great Vawny, sooo...what? Does that mean that it should also be "organic" to be considered "clean"? It certainly can be, and that would, no doubt, be the best way to deliver nutrients without all the added chemicals found in pesticides, or any other unnaturally occurring substances. But I'd like to take just a moment here to clear something up and see if I can't help you get a little better grip on all of these ambiguous terms being tossed around like olives in a salad.
The thing is, a lot of terms like "organic" are actually misnomers, which is part of why it can be overwhelmingly confusing for a person attempting to "clean up" their diet. For instance, the word "organic" technically refers to anything with a carbon chain in it's molecular structure--that basically means anything that's "alive" (another ambiguous term). Somehow, the word found it's way into a counter cultural group that was rejecting modern societies way of eating processed foods, claiming that this was the cause for most modern illnesses, (a claim not entirely unfounded). Organic, in this regard, refers to foods that are raised or grown with no "man-made" chemicals (fertilizers, antibiotics, etc..,) so that it is truly the closest it can be to it's naturally occurring state by the time it's ready for consumption. "Clean Eating" refers to foods in much the same way, but doesn't necessarily refer to "organic" foods, although to some extent it goes without saying that organic would be preferred.
We know that when the naturally occurring state of food is interfered with by adding dyes, preservatives, bleaching, etc., it's greatly devitalized, or stripped of the many properties with which we were meant to nourish our bodies. Even cooking can have this effect by destroying things like vitamins and fiber. Certainly, when trans fats are added to foods, they are no longer considered healthy, or "clean" in this case.
"Ok, ok...so it's still not clear what the heck is meant by clean eating!" you may be thinking. I hear ya. Let me give you a better look at what it means to eat clean. A lot of this stuff you already know, so take heart here. It's not a completely new concept, just a new label for a much healthier lifestyle. You already know that adding salt to your food is not a good idea, and that's one clean eating concept. The food should be low in salt, sugar (no refined sugar whatsoever) and fats. You should choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains like plain old fashioned oats (nothing added) for your oatmeal, whole grain, unbleached brown rice, lean meats and fish, and stick primarily with egg whites when using eggs (lower fat). When having soups, (making it yourself would be better) always use a broth base, avoiding creams. And of course, baking things like potatoes, thus avoiding frying, would also be a part of eating clean.
There are many books on the topic of "Clean Eating" out there today. I highly recommend Tosca Reno's books to get you started. I give a copy of "The Eat Clean Diet" to all of my clients who stick with me past their first ten sessions, as I find it a wonderful reference book. Tosca's done a great job of making it very easy to use and understand, with pictures and references throughout. It's one of those books that you can open to any page and get something useful out of it in a few seconds. For those of you who have food allergies or sensitivities, you obviously have to modify your diet regardless of what any book says. However, this is a great way to start, and you'll find many options here.
If you begin employing these principles of eating along with drinking lots of water throughout your day, not only will you feel like a new person in a matter of a couple of days, but your body will go through a metamorphosis that you wouldn't have believed possible. Because after all, you are what you eat...
Contact me at Beachbody Fitness for help with "Clean Eating" and tons of "CLEAN EATING RECIPES!"