For the past week, my Facebook feed has been full of articles about clean eating along with clean eating recipes. If clean eating has made your resolution list, here’s a radical idea: cross it off your list.
Are you surprised that I, as a dietitian, would say this? First, let me clarify: I haven’t suddenly become a proponent of unhealthy eats. In fact, I have spent many decades of my life promoting enlightened eating – both the pleasures and the health benefits.
Nothing can beat the perks of whole foods – the potential synergistic or additive effects of the assorted components of a food. For example, eating a whole almond with its skin offers significantly more antioxidant power than if you consumed each part – the skin, meal and oil – separately.
Making food choices that take sustainability and the environment into account are also part of my philosophy.
So if you’re now wondering what my problem is, it’s the term clean eating itself. While there are a number of definitions of this concept, including that of eating whole foods, the term, to me, connotes judgement. If you aren’t eating clean, are you eating unclean or dirty? It puts food choices into a whole different realm – one that includes morality. It also seems to be pointing individuals onto a path of disordered eating.
I’m not alone in my profession in my thinking. The term seems to be one that irks many of my colleagues.
Instead why not consider food in a different light. Dietary guidelines proposed by the Brazilian government last year do just that. They not only take food’s relationship to health into account but also look at its effect on culture, social life and the environment.
Take a look at the Ten Steps to Healthy Diets proposed by the Brazilian Population Ministry of Health.
1. Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet
2. Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts when seasoning and cooking natural or minimally processed foods and to create culinary preparation
3. Limit consumption of processed foods
4. Avoid consumption of ultra-processed foods
5. Eat regularly and carefully in appropriate environments and, whenever possible, in company
6. Shop in places that offer a variety of natural or minimally processed foods
7. Develop, exercise and share cooking skills
8. Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life
9. Out of home, prefer places that serve freshly made meals
10. Be wary of food advertising and marketing
The guidelines sound pretty logical, healthy and on target for what food recommendations should be aiming for. What do you think?
Are you a fan of the term clean eating? Please share in the comment leist below.