The Clean Eating Craze: Fact-based or Fear-based?

May 3, 2017
The Clean Eating Craze: Fact-based or Fear-based?

Clean eating: What is it? How do you do it? It may be trendy, but it isn’t very well defined. Ask three people, you’ll get three different answers. That adds up to a lot of confusion for our clients and for consumers. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some of the tips and tricks these experts are serving up:

  • Clean Eating magazine advises you to eat five or six times a day, chose organic clean foods when possible and drink up to two liters of water a day.
  • Cooking Light magazine advises you to choose whole, natural foods, balance your plate with proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and to get moving.
  • Fitness magazine advises you to choose minimally processed foods with few ingredients on the label. Better bet, avoid labels altogether.

To make it even more confusing, much of the clean eating discussion focuses on “natural,” a word that has no formal definition and is really more clever marketing than science. Add to that, a few outlets pushing for organic over conventional with claims about the “Dirty Dozen,” 12 fruits and vegetables that allegedly contain pesticides. Finally, in an effort to “clean up their label,” many food companies are abandoning a long legacy of fortification, which could cause nutrient deficiencies.

So is the discussion around clean eating really fact-based or fear-based? More importantly, is there a better way to advise our clients on how to choose their foods? Here are my top tips to share with your clients:

  • Smart Shopping: Healthy choices start with the Dietary Guidelines for American 2015-20, the evidence-based guide that focus on the importance of creating a healthy eating pattern to maintain health and reduce the risk of disease. MyPlate and MiPlato show consumers how to put it into practice. When filling their cart, encourage clients to focus on nutrient-rich foods first.
  • Get Clients Cooking: Culinary education helps clients create their own healthy meals. When it comes to eating, taste is always going to be king. We need to provide our clients with the skills they need to discover that healthy can be delicious.
  • Eat Together: Food should nourish your body and your soul. Taking time to eat as a family allows for conversation and quality time together. It also encourages healthy eating habits and more nutrient-rich foods.

Take the time to educate your clients on simple healthy choices. Put a focus on healthy eating and leave the “clean” eating confusion behind. Learn more about the Dietary Guidelines for American 2015-20. Share our favorite recipes with your clients.