For the longest time, I felt that if I deviated slightly from eating a whole, natural food, I would die instantly.
I wouldn’t be “eating clean.”
Ok it wasn’t that extreme, but my point is that I was told that “clean eating” or “eating clean” meant only eating one-ingredient whole, natural foods.
And as I got deeper and deeper into figuring out what clean eating really was, I realized that even certain one ingredient foods were considered bad, which added a whole new level to what eating clean even meant.
It led me down this rabbit hole of depriving myself of more and more things.
Which ultimately led to a binge of a ton of foods that no diet would consider “clean.”
But then I realized that “eating clean” really depended on the diet mantra you chose to follow and how restrictive that diet, or you chose to be.
I began to realize that using the phrase “eat clean” was really almost more of a way to guilt people into only eating certain things.
Heck, those of us “eating clean” oddly even said it make ourselves feel above someone else because they ate something we didn’t deem to be “clean.”
It is almost like “Clean Eating,” “Eating Clean” became this way of guilting people into eating only what the diet recommended more than really trying to drive balance and healthy eating practices.
I say this because while I 100% believe you want to focus on whole, natural foods as much as possible, and heck even locally grown or organic farms with good practices as much as possible…
…There really is no one set “clean foods” list. And eating clean has gone far beyond these basic recommendations.
It just all depends on who you talk to and the dietary preference they have.
So what then does “eating clean” really mean!?
I can tell you what it SHOULDN’T mean to you…
It shouldn’t mean restricting yourself and stressing yourself out every minute of every day.
It shouldn’t mean reading the latest fad article about how all of the sudden something is horrible and you can never eat it again.
It shouldn’t mean feeling guilty about enjoying foods.
It shouldn’t mean arbitrarily demonizing foods just because someone else said they are bad when you haven’t shown any issues with them. (And no this doesn’t mean eating massive bags of M&M’s every day saying they haven’t caused issues).
What should it mean?
It should mean that you strike a balance. It should mean you strive to give your body the fuel that it needs.
It should mean you focus on whole, natural foods without demonizing foods that don’t cause you issues, especially when your macro ratios are dialed in.
It should mean being able to enjoy the foods you love while staying focused on your goals.
It means that if you enjoy a sandwich and haven’t ever had any problems with gluten that you should be able to continue to do so.
Too often we demonize foods that we personally don’t need to demonize and we do so without truly understanding even WHY someone else may have said to eliminate this food from our diet.
If you choose to eliminate a food from what you consider to be “clean” you better truly KNOW and UNDERSTAND why you are doing so!
And then it is also important that when we think about our diets and trying to “eat clean” that there needs to be a balance.
A balance often called the 80/20 Rule.
So what is the 80/20 rule?
80% of the time you want your diet to come from home-made and whole, natural foods.
20% of the time you can add in that processed crap.
Of course there are grey areas as there are lightly processed things, aka for some bread, for others cheeses, or even for others protein powders, where there is some processing but they can be considered in some way promoting health or proper macros.
Those grey area foods you will have to decide where exactly they fall.
And often if they allow you to stay on track and stay focused on whole, natural foods for the bulk of your diet, I saw include them and don’t stress about hitting exactly that 80/20 ratio!
They key is that…just like everything else…this is a guide. A way to focus your eating to find balance!