Clean eating has been a trend for the past decade, although there’s no official definition of just what “clean eating” means. In fact, it’s more a dietary approach than a specific diet, although quite a number of cookbooks have spun off of this trend.
The foundation of clean eating is choosing whole foods and foods in their less processed states—choosing from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, pulses (beans, lentils, and peas), dairy, nuts, seeds, and high-quality animal and plant proteins. When possible, food choices are organic and based on what’s in season in your geographic region. When choosing packaged foods with a label, foods with shorter ingredient lists are preferred, and added sugars are limited.
So far, so good. However, the movement can go to extremes. Many clean-eating advocates aim to avoid all traces of added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and other additives—a position that might be admirable but is too stringent for most people. In many cases, a cult-like extremism is encouraged by wellness bloggers and celebrities who have no nutrition qualifications or evidence to back up some of their promises, including claims that their version of clean eating will change your life or cure your health issues.
Increasingly, food companies are picking up on the trend, using language in their marketing like “food should be clean” and “don’t eat ingredients you can’t pronounce.” This not only taps into safety fears, but it implies that if food isn’t “clean,” it’s dirty, or that if it’s not chemical-free, it’s chemical-laden. The truth is that foods don’t fall into black-and-white categories. For example, even organic agriculture uses pesticides—most are natural, but some are manufactured.
The good: Some versions of clean eating offer a genuine way to eat a nutritious diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, with healthy fats and either plant- or animal-based protein food for bal-ance—while reducing sugar and ultra-processed foods.
The bad: Other interpretations of clean eating can lead to a rigid diet that bans entire foods or food groups like grains—especially gluten-containing grains— soy, legumes, and dairy. These extremes are not supported by research, and you can develop nutrient deficiencies if your food choices are too limited. In some cases, clean eating, especially in its more rigid forms, can become less of a diet than an identity and could lead to disordered eating.
The mixed bag: There’s real benefit in eating more whole and minimally processed foods, but not in fear-ing others that are nutritious. Because many consumers perceive that “clean” foods are safer and higher quality, “certified clean” labels are starting to appear on some processed foods, although there’s no standard definition behind them. Even the least extreme version of clean eating typically requires cooking most meals at home, which isn’t feasible for everyone
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:6
“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.”- Proverbs 16:3
“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12:24 – Luke 12:24
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