You’ve heard it probably eight hundred times without realizing it, and you’ve seen it twice as much on Pinterest and Instagram:
Clean eating is all the rage.
Seriously, never has there ever been a time in our culture during which there were so many trends regarding what’s on our plate.
The problem with the new “clean eating trend” is that, like with all other trends, the more popular it becomes, the more people add their own twist and spin to it.
And that’s great. Seriously, I love creativity, and I love especially when people express creativity through food and food choices. The problem is that the average “non-trendy” person can hear about this idea of clean eating and turn away from it in a second because all the different ideas make it super complicated.
And at its core, clean eating isn’t complicated at all.
There are so many diets, lifestyles, and eating plans that get thrown into the category of clean eating that actually aren’t necessarily clean eating at all.
Or maybe they are.
It’s like the classic “all basketballs are spheres, but not all spheres are basketballs,” rule that we all learned at some point in our elementary school days (but none of us can remember what that law is called).
I digress. I seriously looked up that idea, phrasing it as many different ways as I possibly could, and I literally couldn’t figure out what that dang principle is called. I am sure my husband will come home and be like, “oh that’s Munafo’s Law of Round Things,” or something ridiculous.
Where was I? Cleaning eating..
The thing about all those diets and lifestyles is that many of them do embody clean eating, however, clean eating does not necessarily embody all of those diets and lifestyles. For example, the paleo way does technically count as clean eating, but simply “eating clean” would not be the paleo way. The same thing is true for the Whole30. You could certainly do the Whole30 and eat clean, but eating clean for thirty days would not be a true Whole30.
These examples, as well as so many others (because the fads are endless), take clean eating a step (or seven) further. They eliminate things that a simple clean eating lifestyle wouldn’t. It’s my opinion that a large number of people, who do genuinely desire to eat clean and be healthy, get overwhelmed when they research clean eating and all of these lifestyles and diet options come up. There are certainly some who can just go all out and eliminate everything from their diet all at once, but most people see those strict plans and just think, “there is no way I can do that.”
And I get it. I really do.
Whether it’s simply that I want dessert but the Whole30 tells me I can’t, or that I actually really enjoy whole rolled oats but the paleo way says I have to use ground almond meal instead and it’s approximately $50 an ounce (just kidding), sometimes I am totally not into something awesome because it’s just too much work.
And that’s where taking a step back and simply focusing on clean eating comes in handy.
Clean eating truly is simple and easy, and I believe that it is a great starting place for anyone looking to simply have a healthier lifestyle.
Here are the basics:
DO EAT THESE:
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- dried legumes
- nuts and seeds
- farm fresh eggs
- unrefined grains (popcorn, quinoa, brown rice, oats, and whole wheat (if you can eat gluten)
- unprocessed meat (free range, grass fed, hormone free)
- hormone free dairy
- healthy oils (coconut oil, olive, grapes oil, walnut oil, etc.)
DO NOT EAT THESE:
- processed foods (an example would be removing the bran and germ to make refined white bread)
- additives (things that are loaded with refined sugar or excess salt)
- manufactured ingredients (if you can’t pronounce it you probably shouldn’t eat it!)
You’ll notice that the list of things you do eat is far greater than the list of things you don’t eat. If you’re anything like me, that’s probably super encouraging…
Because I L O V E F O O D.
You’ll also notice that nowhere in the list of clean eating rules does it say you can’t have cheese.
The idea behind clean eating isn’t to tell you all the things you can’t have, but rather that it’s important to focus on the source of the food you are putting in your body. It’s a simple alteration in your diet verses an elimination entire food groups. Rather than saying, “sorry, you can’t eat bread anymore,” it says, “choose the healthier bread that’s less processed.”
It’s not all or nothing like so many other diets. In fact, it isn’t boring or restrictive in any way.
And while the “all or nothing” approach may work for a select few people for a time, I really believe that for the majority of us, that approach sets us up for frustration that leads to rebounding. We aren’t wired to enjoy a boring and restrictive lifestyle, especially not in the kitchen.
It’s easier to focus on switching from white rice to brown rice than it is to eliminate all rice from your diet. You can still enjoy that burrito bowl you love but make a slight change. Over time, the little choices that may seem difficult become easier, and the difference becomes evident. It’s a far more sustainable approach to a healthy lifestyle.
Being healthy isn’t always going to be easy, but we can certainly make it easier by taking an easier approach, and true clean eating is a great start and totally doable for anyone. The fact that it isn’t an all or nothing approach and that it isn’t a set number of days means that you can go at your own pace, one step at a time. Make simple changes, master those choices, then build on top of it with more simple changes.
Eat clean, friend! You can do it!