Even if you haven’t personally dabbled in the clean-eating craze, you probably know at least one person who has tried it.
This growing trend toward eating whole foods in their natural state, and avoiding things that are highly processed or contain a lot of additives, has gained popularity around the globe.
“Clean eating is a concept, and depending on who you talk to, the definition may vary,” said Holiday Zanetti, a senior research scientist and clinical investigator for Nutrilite. “What are the foods that should be consumed and what are those that should be avoided?
“That is up for debate, and is often up to the individual’s interpretation of eating clean.”
Part of a healthy lifestyle
For the most part, the guidelines that describe clean eating are part of a healthy lifestyle—fruits, vegetables and whole grains are nutritional powerhouses. Filling our plates with them and rounding the meal out with lean protein spells success.
“When clean eating means making healthy food choices that include fewer preservatives and less salt and sugar, this can equate to a healthy lifestyle,” Holiday said.
But it’s important to recognize that eating clean is not the only approach to achieving that healthy lifestyle, she said.
Moderation is key
There can be a negative side to this trend, too. Some people become so focused on what they see as clean food choices that they stop eating the variety of foods needed provide key nutrients.
Others have made up their own strict rules. For example, some believe organic foods are the only clean foods. They’ll eat only fresh fruits and vegetables, and nothing that has been canned.
“Not all food preservatives and additives are bad,” Zanetti said. “As with most things in life, a healthy dose of moderation is key.”
Eat the cake
While you can embrace the benefits of eating healthy foods, make sure to keep everything in perspective.
It’s OK to enjoy that slice of birthday cake at your next family party. And brunch with friends is a lot more enjoyable if you’re not fixated on where the eggs in your omelet came from.
“It’s not wise to get obsessed about what you eat,” Holiday said. “That takes the joy out of eating and can eliminate potentially healthy choices that add variety to your diet.
“It’s about balance.”
If you explore clean eating, remember this: Any diet that has you reaching for more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while limiting your salt and processed foods will help add up to a healthy lifestyle, Holiday said.
“If that is your definition of clean eating, make it happen daily,” she said. “And remember, some is better than none and consistency is key.”
Also, consider adding nutritional supplements to your daily routine to help fill any gaps, especially as you begin a new eating plan.