The Buzz About Clean Eating

By: Kristin M. MacDonald, MS, RD, LDN
Owner, Healthy Appetites Nutrition Counseling, L.L.C.

If you spend any time on Facebook or Pinterest looking up recipes, you are sure to find dishes that boost to be ‘clean.’ The clean eating trend gained popularity in 2016 and is still going strong. But what exactly does it mean to eat clean?

Clean eating can look different to different people. In general, clean eating focuses on whole foods that have been minimally processed. The more processing a food encounters usually means that important nutrients are removed and less healthful ingredients added. When an apple is turned into juice, for example, fiber is removed and often sugar is added.

Many who practice clean eating also choose to eat organic. Organic foods are guaranteed, by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to be free of toxic pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics and genetic engineering.

Eating organic can be expensive. While some choose to eat all organic, others may wish to prioritize their organic purchases. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a list of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and the ‘Clean Fifteen’ - produce that is known to be the most and least contaminated. You can use this information as a guide for purchasing organic. Check out the following website for the EWG’s list and convenient wallet guide.

What are the pros and cons of the clean eating movement? As a dietitian, I love that clean eating focuses on whole fruits and vegetables, fish and lean cuts of meat. Clean eating also helps to reduce the overall added sugar, added salt and preservatives in our diets. Clean eating can also mean a focus on a more plant-based diet, which has known health benefits.

However, clean eating generally requires more food prep and cooking - many of my clients don’t have this extra time. Also the term ‘clean eating’ implies that if you aren’t eating only whole foods, you are eating ‘dirty.’ Eating foods that come from a package or bag doesn’t mean you are eating ‘dirty.’ I ask clients to avoid thinking of foods as good or bad, but instead to focus on balance. Even processed foods can fit into a healthful diet. A good rule of thumb for foods that come in a package - look for ingredients you know and could purchase yourself at the store.

If you are someone who doesn’t cook dinner at all, try moving towards one or two homemade meals per week. Focus on including whole ingredients, but packaged ingredients can have their place too. For example, frozen fruits and vegetables, which have been processed, can be great to keep on hand. Frozen produce provides a convenient option free of added salt or sugar, and it doesn’t go bad quickly.

Check out this month’s recipe, Honey Mustard Salmon Salad. This is an easy to prepare meal with a simple, homemade dressing and an emphasis on fresh, whole ingredients.

Honey Mustard Salmon Salad

recipe by: Kristin M. MacDonald, MS, RD, LDN
Owner, Healthy Appetites Nutrition Counseling, L.L.C.

A tangy-sweet honey mustard sauce doubles as a marinade for the fish and dressing for this salmon salad. A great way to incorporate more fish and fresh produce in your diet, this salad is a delicious option for dinner. The salmon also makes great leftovers for lunch the next day. Salmon is an ingredient that I love to select fresh and wild-caught. Compare the deep red color of wild-caught salmon to the lighter pink, farm-raised variety next time you are at the store - a difference can also be found in the taste. Give wild-caught salmon a try and see what you think!



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