If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter or been to a gym lately, then you’ve likely read or overheard someone talking about how they “have been trying to eat really clean.” And as a dietitian, I think I understand what they mean. But for some reason it still kind of irks me. And I think that it’s because “eating clean” doesn’t really have a definition. It’s a made up word, like woozle wuzzle. What does that mean? I don’t know, but I borrowed the term from one of my favorite Simpsons episodes (Bart gets into show business). The point is, it means whatever you want it to mean. In the world of food and nutrition, another similar word would be “super food”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a blueberry drive the Bat mobile. Nor have I seen kale flying through the air with a cape on. It’s just a made up word marketers use to sell.

So what does clean eating really mean? Do you spray Windex on your Oreo before you eat it? Of course I kid, but what does it mean? Again, everyone has their own definition of it, but I think for most it looks a bit like this:

  • Eliminating processed and pre-packaged foods
  • Eating whole foods whenever possible
  • Consuming more fruits and vegetables
  • Cutting back on or completely eliminating alcohol
  • Drinking more water
  • Cutting back on or eliminating sugary juices and sodas (diet included)
  • Cutting out cookies, cakes, and other confectionery products

To get more on the extreme side of “clean eating” I think I’d also include:

  • Eating only grass-fed beef
  • Eating only wild caught salmon
  • Eating only cage free eggs
  • Consuming only organic fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking and eating only hormone free dairy products
  • Eliminating canned fruits and vegetables

There are probably more, but I think you get the idea. And I don’t know about you, but I feel like I had to type “eliminating” WAY too many times. I’m not a big fan of that word. I think all foods should fit in the diet. I’m pretty well known for including these “banned” foods in meal plans for my clients (although I really, really, really don’t like meal plans either and only do them in extreme cases). Take something away that they enjoy and you’re headed straight for a binge. Next thing you know, they’ve made little to no progress and that doesn’t look good on me. So sure, more fruits and veggies would be good for us all, but taking away every thing that isn’t “clean” and it’s gonna get old pretty quickly.

Hey, look at that, I kept it pretty short today. Hope that helps clear things up a bit. Shout out to Beth Romer for the idea for this post. I’m always looking for more topics to blog about, so if you’d like to learn more about one, just mention it in the comments section!