The term "clean eating" is tossed around frequently, but many people still aren't sure what it means. I spoke with three nutrition experts who agreed on the basics of clean eating: natural foods like produce and whole grains are vital, processed foods pollute the body, and extra sugar is detrimental to your health. However, each expert I spoke with offered her own unique spin on the eat-clean mantra.
Take Back Control
Naturopath practitioner Dr. Holly Lucille, ND, RN, says that clean eating is a form of disease prevention: "There are so many things in this world that are out of our control, but what you eat isn't." Lucille believes that we should take any and every opportunity to reduce our exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and hormones, which can "disrupt your endocrine system, [and] spur on weight gain and inflammation." She insists that reducing the exposure to these endocrine disrupters offers your body the solid nutrients it needs to fuel biochemistry.
Combine the Right Foods
Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder doesn't believe that high-quality, organic ingredients alone make up a clean-eating program. Instead, she says that the order and combination of foods we eat can lead to "toxicity buildup" in the body. For example, she believes "eating fruit on an empty stomach is 'clean.'" She feels this allows the fruit to be digested quickly so the body can metabolize all the nutrients. But the reverse is something Snyder shies away from. She believes that when you eat fruit after protein "the fruit starts to ferment prematurely" — interfering with the body's ability to absorb the essential nutrients. You can learn more about her theories on food combining in her new book Beauty Detox Foods (available for presale).
Read Those Labels
It may sound obvious, but healthy living guru and dietitian Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, knows that something as simple as really reading the label of any packaged food can inform clean and healthy choices. "If anything you eat comes in a package, read the ingredient list first. It should read like a recipe you could whip up in your own kitchen." Once you get a glimpse at the slew of chemicals and man-made additives that go into even the most common processed foods, your tastes might even start to change naturally.