What Is Clean Eating?

A basket full of apples.

Clean eating is a phrase you’ve probably heard before from bloggers, authors and trainers. But what is clean eating? Weight trainers promote it as an ideal diet with a special emphasis on lean protein, while vegan bloggers and authors promote a “clean” diet free of meat and dairy — so the definition of a clean eating diet varies.

There is a common thread among clean eating promoters. They believe food should be as close to its natural state as possible, free of preservatives, chemicals, pesticides or dyes. Clean Eating magazine probably expresses it best: “The soul of clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. It is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation, leading to an improved life – one meal at a time.”

Foods that are often in the diet include:

  • Produce
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Lean protein
  • Healthy fats
  • Wild salmon
Foods that aren’t on the diet:
  • Genetically modified foods
  • Refined flour and sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Canned foods
  • Junk food

One author who has helped make the clean eating movement popular is Terry Walters, who wrote several books based on the clean eating concept. Her first book, "Clean Food," promoted a vegan diet that centered on dairy-free, meatless dishes based on fresh produce, legumes and grains.

Another popular clean eating author is Tosca Reno, who has written 13 books. Her books center on eating lean proteins in six to seven small meals a day, plus healthy fats, carbohydrates and produce. Her books are written from a body-building perspective, and concentrate on “healthy” lean meats, rather than a vegan diet. Her own story is inspirational, as she began this journey at 40 as an unhappy, unhealthy and overweight woman who decided to change. And change she did! At 53, she is planning on competing in a figure competition, something unimaginable 13 years ago.

While there is a lot of variance in the cleaning eating movement, the focus on eating a diet free from modern chemicals and refined foods remains consistent. And that is a focus I can sign up for as well.

What do you think of the clean eating movement?