I overheard a conversation in the sauna room today at the gym. Oh, that’s my new thing these days. After my workout, I go in the sauna once per week. I spray diluted apple cider vinegar on my face after splashing it with cool water, and then sit in the sauna and let my pores open. It makes my skin so soft and dewy afterwards. Soft skin tips aside, back to the story at hand. There were two other people in the sauna, a mom and daughter. As I spread out my towel to sit and enjoy the steam, the lady exclaimed, “like what the frig does that mean? Clean eating?”
“Mom,” the daughter giggled, “it just means to eat healthy.”
“It sounds so dumb. Clean eating. As opposed to dirty eating?”
I have no clue who was advising this lady to be a clean eater. Her trainer? Her dietician? Doctor? I wasn’t able to get the whole story because I entered the sauna mid-conversation. I could tell she was not very thrilled with the term. Before I continue please allow me to stress that I am none of the professions above. I’m simply an average woman trying my best to maintain health. If this lady asked me what a clean eater is, along with some other gym patrons, it is possible we might all have different explanations.
The term clean eating has been circulating for years. I have seen it countless times in health and fitness magazines. I see the term often in healthy living blogs I read. Clean eaters are everywhere! But who exactly are they? One thing is clear, eating clean has never been more confusing than it is today. Paleo, Keto, plant-based vegetarian, pescatarian, raw food vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, Whole 30, 21 day Fix. If I was searching for a new eating plan I wouldn’t know where to begin.
My sister is trying to lose a few pounds and she asked me what I eat. I advised my sister to eat as clean as possible. For me, this means eating fresh and avoiding the frozen, package food aisles in the supermarket or the fast food drive through for a quick meal. Keeping things simple, and avoiding foods with tons of ingredients that I can’t even pronounce on the nutritional information. For example, instead of buying packaged lasagna, I try to make my own. This way, I can control the salt, sugar and whatever else. I can switch the ground beef to lean ground turkey, a lot more vegetables, use a lighter type of cheese, whole wheat lasagna noodles or whatever I choose. Clean eating for me involves eating a variety of whole foods that will help fuel my body during my busy days and challenging workouts. It’s eating less cake, and more kale. Less wine, and more fresh, filtered water. I try not to make it complicated. I do my best, but of course I have slip ups, especially around holidays and family gatherings. I make allowances for these times, and try not to let my eating be too rigid. I feel that life is about enjoyment too.
I forwarded my sister my grocery list essentials:
In essence, it’s a personal choice, and depends on what works for your body, and if you have any sensitivities or an intolerance as well as professional suggestions from your doctor or nutritionist. I didn’t cut out any foods, just made a few simple changes, such as switching white bread for whole grain. I did eliminate sugar in my tea and coffee as well as juices and soft drinks completely. I found this difficult at first, but now it is second nature. I don’t have an intolerance to gluten or dairy, so I don’t feel the need to eliminate them, I just try to make wiser choices. I buy plain Greek yogurt, because flavoured yogurt is very high in sugar. I have gone from a size 10 to a happy size 6.
If you are searching for an eating plan, I hope you find the best fit for your lifestyle and your goals. Clean eating may seem confusing but it doesn’t have to be. Keep it simple. Keep it fresh. Keep it real. A quote on my old gym bag sums it up best:
You are what you eat, so don’t be cheap, easy, fast or fake.
What does eating clean mean to you?