It’s time to unearth the truth! What does it mean to EAT CLEAN? Wait just one don’t-be-hasty-Master-Meriadoc moment, this question is not as simple as it may appear…and that’s the whole point.
As with many words in the health and wellness industry, Eating Clean is not definitive or quantifiable. It is defined by YOUR perspective. The same goes for being healthy. What does it mean to be healthy? What does natural mean? Even the word organic gets tossed around like a lively kale salad. I often use the word healthy, yet have hesitated at times because I see many companies, brands and people use it in a context very different from my own. This is why I’ve taken the time to define my own perspective on healthy here.Health related words are used so loosely, it’s easy to be misled by media, food packaging, government guidelines, “experts”, social outlets, or even a favorite fitness instructor.
CASE IN POINT #1: Carl’s Jr. makes a Single All-Natural Burger. Do you see in the small subtitles below the image to the right? Apparently they refer solely to the burger patty being all-natural, not the processed ingredients of the ketchup, bun and American Cheese. Yet since this patty isn’t USDA organic, how natural is it? Last time I checked, herbicides, pesticides and genetically modified organisms aren’t exactly natural. Ps: “grass-fed” is also a very loose term used. To me, the Carl’s Jr. Single All-Natural Burger is a solid example of using a word to market towards a certain community. Is it cool they’re going in a more natural direction? Absolutely! I’ll applaud this initiative. Yet is the word natural being used as loosely as ***$!%**#$! (I’m sorry, I can only think of totally inappropriate loose jokes. You get the picture)? Yes. Yes it is.
Who do you trust for nutritional advice? You may trust a source in certain areas for your health (e.g. yoga instructor, family doctor, CrossFit Coach, sports coaches, etc.) yet do you know their specific perspective on this issue? Even Nutritionists and Registered Dieticians who clearly specialize in “eating well” have their own perspective and beliefs on this topic. Here are a few questions worth asking and looking into:
Where does their knowledge or education come from?
If they focus on or feature a particular type of eating style (e.g. paleo, plant-based, gluten-free), what is their reasoning behind it? Is it based on personal preference or another reason?
Are they sponsored by anyone that could influence what they tell you?
Are they promoting a product that could sway what they say?
What does healthy, natural, organic or clean mean to this person or company?
You can ask me these questions. I won’t be offended. I’ve had numerous clients ask me what I eat to be healthy and maintain my “image” and active lifestyle. Prior to my plant-based sports nutrition education, maybe they trusted my opinion because I’m an Olympic Medalist. That should offer some solid street cred, right? Yet I can now say I knew very little about healthy eating when I was training and competing. Let me clarify, I knew very little about what foods actually improved my recovery time and decreased inflammation and stress – pretty much the most important topics I should have known. Thankfully my insatiable curiosity has motivated me since to explore these topics along with the lifelong wonder of how to eat for sustainable health.
It’s time to put on your very own Curious Inquisitor Cap and ask the question…
what does it mean to EAT CLEAN?
I am daring to write about Eating Clean during one of the most indulgent weeks of the American calendar. Thanksgiving Day is days away, along with the traditional sweet potato marshmallow dollops, buttery gravy, garlic bread, sweet cranberry toppings and delectable pumpkin party pies (I think all pumpkin pies should be renamed to pumpkin party pies just to add a little extra pizazz in our life).
Am I writing to guilt all of us into eating healthier this week? Of course not…If you tell me “not to do something”, I will usually go and do it. It’s best to focus on making positive additions if you want to make sustainable healthy lifestyle changes…not the negative.
CASE IN POINT #2: While chillaxing in Sifnos, Greece over the summer, our dear friends took us to a local eatery that specializes in the local sweet treat, Loukoumades, an air-light donut doused in local honey. Yum! Matt told me we shouldn’t have our own plate and it’s best we share. Apparently I took this as a challenge and stubbornly ordered my own plate of 6 honey drenched donuts….and then proceeded to wake up in the middle of the night to release said goods into the porcelain throne. That was fun. Not really. Yet thankfully I had read GUT: The inside story to our body’s most underrated organ. So during my body’s rejection of intense sweetness, I was able to observe the scientific process of throwing up. Did you know the salivation you experience before you spew is to create a protection for your teeth from the bile? Who knew!
MORAL OF THE STORY #1: I won’t tell you “don’t do this, don’t do that”, because I don’t want you to pull a Jaime vs. Loukoumades episode. But I will suggest amazing foods, practices, movements, adjustments to navigate your lifestyle with sustainable health.
MORAL OF THE STORY #2: Be curious. Ask questions. If you hear something is healthy but don’t know why, find out. Keep your Curious Inquisitor Cap handy. You deserve to know the truth behind the foods you eat. It is your body, after all.
MORAL OF THE STORY #3: Find sources you trust. The more you can surround yourself with positive, well-rounded and ethical people, places and things, the better. If you’re not sure where to get started, visit my blog page and peruse the category “Resources”. Most of my blogs reference my own trusted resources.