Monday, August 9, 2010

What does it mean to eat clean?

I am often asked what I did to lose weight successfully. When I answer that the secret to my body transformation is simply clean eating and vigorous exercise I am greeted by three distinct reactions:

The honest and inquisitive, What exactly is clean eating?
The judgmental and know-it-all, Really? That’s it.
The well-intentioned and interested, I would really like to eat clean, but don’t know how to start. Do you have any advice?

Today I will address the question, What does it mean to eat clean?

Cantaloupe and Blueberries
Clean eating is a thoughtful way of nourishing your body. Our bodies are designed to consume foods that are whole, natural and bursting with nutrients; however, most of us do not consume foods that respect these needs. Clean eating replaces processed, refined, toxic and nutritionally devoid foods with those that are as close to nature as possible. This creates a diet that will transform you into your best self: healthy, vibrant and lean.

By combining natural, whole foods into 5-6 small meals a day, each consisting of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, clean eating will transform your body into an energetic powerhouse.

Grilled Chicken on Bibb Lettuce topped with Almond Butter
Eating clean is also good for the World. It is a preservationist approach to making smart food choices that respect the land, animals and your health. The core values of clean eating focus on making local, sustainable, eco-friendly choices that minimize waste and conserve resources.

Eating close to nature translates to shopping the outer aisles at the supermarket, especially the produce, bulk bin, dairy and meat departments, visiting farmer’s markets and making contact with local farmers and suppliers using sites like

Quinoa Mango Salad
The following are some examples of easy swaps that you can make to clean up your diet, please note that this is not a comprehensive list:

Category of food
Conventional choice
Clean choice
Refined, white sugar
Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Artificial Sweeteners (Splenda, Aspartame, etc.)
Sugar Alcohols (Xylitol, sorbitol, etc.)
SuCaNat (Sugar Cane Natural)
Agave Nectar
Raw Honey
Maple Syrup
Maple Sugar Flakes
Enriched White Flour
White Rice Flour
Unbleached white flour

White Rice

Quick Cooking Oats

Semolina (white) Pasta
Whole Wheat Flour
White Whole Wheat Flour
Brown Rice Flour
Kamut Flour
Spelt Flour

Brown Rice
Wild Rice

Rolled Oats
Steel Cut Oats
Whole Grain Malt O Meal

Whole Wheat Pasta
Brown Rice Pasta
Multi-grain Pasta
Conventionally Grown Produce
Organic Produce, specifically those you intend to eat the skin of and the “Dirty Dozen”:
Imported Grapes
Dairy and Eggs
Milk from cows treated with rBST

Conventional Cheese

Conventional Yogurt

Conventional Eggs
Organic Milk

Cheese that is free of hormones and antibiotics

Organic Yogurt

Cage-free or Organic Eggs

Conventional meat from animals treated with hormones and antibiotics

Processed, cured and preserved meats (bacon, hot dogs, brats, deli meat)
Meat from animals not treated with hormones and antibiotics, preferably allowed to roam in their natural environment

Uncured meats that do not contain added nitrates, nitrites, preservatives and sodium

In future posts I will explore the topics of how to start eating clean, the importance of reading nutrition labels, and how to shop each grocery store department. Also, check out a previous post that gave you a glimpse into my Simply Clean Fridge.


Anonymous said...

Great post!


Hi Girl!

I LOVE CLEAN EATING!!! And am excited that someone else has chosen this as a weight loss method as well as an overall healthier lifestyle choice. When I was disciplined, I lost 13 pounds in just a month (earlier this year) by clean eating and walking for about 30 minutes each day. But you have to be prepared--ridding the fridge and cabinets of "dirty" items, being well stocked with clean choices, and having pre-planned menus each day! I didn't always do this and found myself falling into the what's convenient, RIGHT NOW rut. So, I am picking myself up once again to get started clean. There are so many magazines dedicated to the topic (Clean Eating, Eating Well, Best You, Body+Soul,etc.) and Tosca Reno's book is excellent too!

Maria Peters said...

Doubletake - I totally agree that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be successful. So, I plan on posting some of my ideas to simplify life and make being a successful clean eater easier.

Good luck on your journey!