Written by Natasha Ward, Registered Dietitian at Western Wisconsin Health
Have you heard about “clean eating” and wondered what the buzz is about?
Clean eating has been in the nutrition spotlight lately as many people are hearing about the potentially bad additives in foods and are trying to eat less processed foods. Clean eating typically refers to eating whole foods in their most natural state with no additional or minimal processing. However, the term can be up to the interpretation of each person. Some consider “clean eating” to mean eating only foods in their most whole and natural form (i.e. fruits or vegetables just as they are picked) and mostly vegan or vegetarian. However, others may interpret the phrase as eating foods without any additional sugar, fat, sodium, or artificial ingredients and often with a focus on organic and local food choices. You can eat clean from every food group by trying to make choices that have less extra and unnecessary ingredients. The food industry has responded to this trend with more food products labeled “free from” high fructose corn syrup, GMO’s, gluten, artificial additives, and so on. The labeling on the front of a packaged food can be misleading though, so be sure to look at the ingredients on the back.
Ideally, each of us will find some balance in the middle that leads us to eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats, poultry, fish, and whole grains with no added sugars, fats, and salt. Avoiding all processed foods in the environment we live in is very limiting and difficult, so try focusing on including as many unprocessed foods as you can while not feeling like it has to be all or nothing. Try to eat more whole (or frozen) fruits and vegetables, unsweetened oatmeal, unsalted nuts, unsweetened plain yogurt (with honey and nuts added would be ok!), and fresh meats/fish/poultry from a local farmer, and you are definitely on the right track.
In conclusion, my advice is best described with a favorite quote from food author Michael Pollan, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”