What is clean eating?

What is clean eating… and do you really need to do it?

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How to clean-up your eating habits without a lot of heavy lifting– in fact, the less work that goes into it, the closer you are!

Few industries have evolved as much as food; there are more processed and packaged foods available than ever before. Thanks to increasingly busy lifestyles, many of us rely heavily on takeaway, frozen and tinned products and other convenience foods.   

While many of these advancements have made eating healthy more accessible than ever (for example, canning and freezing means we can eat seasonal veggies all year round, and can go longer between shopping trips without forgoing healthy choices), others have paved the way for heavier waistlines and poor health.

Enter clean eating – the concept that puts the focus back on foods that are minimally processed and close to their original form.

Is organic food better?

Why it’s worth it

'Clean eating' means basing your diet on foods that are devoid of toxins or other things that are harmful to your body, explains nutritionist and naturopath Katherine Maslen. It’s based around the principal the more things that we eat that are laced with additives or toxins, the less healthy we become.

Clean eating promotes the intake of whole foods – think fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. Protein choices include eggs, fish, seafood, lean poultry and red meat such as beef and lamb. These wholefoods provide plenty of beneficial phytonutrients.

Studies have suggested that diets rich in unrefined, minimally processed whole foods have a beneficial effect on cholesterol and lipids in the blood. They may also help to decrease free radical damage to cells and improve bowel function.

Maslen adds clean eating helps reduce hormone related health woes. And neither last nor least, you’re reducing your intake of empty calories in favour of foods that provide essential vitamins and nutrients instead.

Keeping it simple

Clean eating doesn't mean you’ll be spending your whole life catering to your dietary needs. Maslen says the easiest way to get clean eating is look for ways to substitute unhealthy foods for healthier foods, increasing the nutritional value of your diet. Her top tips?
  • Avoid sugar in all added forms. Don’t confuse this with a no sugar diet – you’ll get plenty of the sugars your body needs from wholefoods, just keep the cakes and biscuits to a minimum
  • Stick to water and freshly squeezed juices (mostly veggie) as much as possible
  • Swap out 'white' crackers for brown rice crackers, rye crackers, corn or rice thins
  • Swap out soft drinks for mineral water with fresh lemon or lime
  • Swap out commercial bread for wholegrain spelt, rye or kamut sourdough
  • Swap out white rice for brown rice or quinoa
  • Swap out sweetened yoghurt for organic full fat natural yoghurt with frozen berries and honey
  • Swap out muesli bars for trail mix with dried fruit and nuts