What the hell does eating ‘clean’ even mean?!

I’m coming to realize I probably should have planned this whole ‘clean eating’ thing out a bit better.

You may have noticed that I’ve always included ‘clean’ in quotations – I’ve always thought the notion was a bit odd.  But the idea that I would have NO FREAKING IDEA what makes a food clean or not didn’t occur to me.  I assumed it would be like the old saying regarding pornography “I can’t quite explain it, but I know it when I see it.”

Unfortunately, that is not the case.  I’ve come across way too many definitions and way too many food items that don’t seem to fit in a clear category.  Let’s take some examples of what ‘clean eating’ is from various people:

“If you don’t recognize the ingredients, don’t eat it”

Well, being a person who is very interested in nutrition, some of the more mystifying ingredients are things I’m actually familiar with.  Xanthan Gum?  Sure got some in the cabinets.  Citric Acid?  Yeah it’s in most fruits.  Dextrose?  Mmmm sugarrrr.  So for some foods that would most definitely not be considered ‘clean,’ this strategy doesn’t work.  Not to mention several items I can think of (such as PB2) that have simple ingredients, but are most definitely processed.

“If it has a nutrition label, don’t eat it.”

Bottled water has a nutrition label.  A lot of meats have nutrition labels.  I can buy a bag of apples that have a nutrition label on it.  Steel-cut oats have labels…etc.

“If it was made in a plant, processed or manufactured, don’t eat it.”

What about coconut flour?  Almond flour?  Even wheat flour?  Besides fresh produce, I don’t know how many foods fit under this definition.  Most meats were processed through a factory of some sort.  Your albacore didn’t jump out of the ocean into a tin.  How much process is too much process?  Bringing up the previous example of PB2, the process is pretty simple – they press the roasted peanuts to get the oil out so most fat content is removed.  Is that too much of a process?  Which brings me to the next point –

“If a process was done to remove nutrition from the product, don’t eat it.”

What about skim milk?  1% milk?  Pasteurized milk at all?  0% Greek yogurt?  Peeled shrimp?  Peeled oranges?

“If your ancestors didn’t recognize it, don’t eat it.” 

I’m pretty sure our ancestors didn’t recognize the modern-day banana.  Or peanut butter.  Or almond milk…etc.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhgh!

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve had a frustrating week of eating.  Here are some items on my list of contention.  I have down the big ticket items, but I’d like to hear any input as well:

1) Quest Bars – I’ve given this a tentative no.  Big hit to my pre / post workout / dessert / anytime, really snacks.

2) Greek Yogurt / Dairy in general – I’ve been eating this, and I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to include it.

3) Dark Chocolate – I might just need to include this for my sanity.

4) Almond Milk – I LOVE almond milk, but there is no doubt it’s been processed.  But is it too much processing?! WHO THE HELL KNOWS.

5) Protein Powder – I’m eating all of this anyway, processed or no.  Like 25% of my protein intake consists of protein powder, and I am unwilling to give it up!

ProteinPowder

Not pictured: 2 other bins – totaling 10 bins of protein powder between me and Luke. <insert some bro joke here>

Incidentally, there is also another Layne Norton video that talks about basically the experiment I’m about to do: clean eating vs. calorie and macronutrient counting.

Personally, I like his definition of ‘clean’ food best: food you spray with windex before you eat it.

Anyway, I’ve basically come to the conclusion that the phrase ‘clean eating’ means absolutely NOTHING definitive.  I suppose it’s just a way for people to have a new buzzword for eating healthy.

But even ‘healthy’ is a word that’s up for debate.

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About katwhit

Coffee shop blogger by day, personal trainer by night. My interests include lifting weights, puppies, teaching people how to lift weights and dogs. Head on over to my blog and you'll find: reviews of best-selling diet books in extensive detail, critiques of various fitness publications, and even the occasional rant on the latest TV fitness segments.
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