The concept of clean eating is to only eat foods that are whole, healthy or “real”. Meaning those that are minimally processed and as close to their natural state as possible. This is all well and good but in this day and age, that can be quite the challenge.
Another issue with the term “clean” is that it is a very subjective term. For example, a vegan would regard clean foods to be fruit and vegetables, whole grains, non-meat products, non-dairy foods and so on, whereas bodybuilders would deem clean foods to be lean meats, eggs, vegetables, milk, fish and so on. So you can see that depending on your beliefs, interests or goals, “clean eating” can mean different things to different people.
Food is also just food and should be looked at as such, giving it a title to fall under, starts to create unhealthy relationships with it. If you have clean food, then by default you also must have “dirty foods”, common examples being: chocolate, crisps, ice cream, pizza, ready meals etc. So now anytime you eat them, you will have feelings of guilt or failure as these foods are “dirty” and therefore should not be consumed…obviously not a good state of mind to be in just because you’ve eating something that tastes good.
Having “clean” and “dirty” foods also creates what is called ‘the big red button’ syndrome. Someone tells you not to touch the button and all you want to do is push it and see what happens. Same thing applies to food. Tell someone they can’t have chocolate and all they think about and want to eat is chocolate and when they finally do, they tend to over indulge. So, instead of totally banning a food, add it into your diet little and often and keep the cravings and binges away.
For most people, clean foods would be foods that they understand to be healthy and nutritious and would try and stay away from products that are high in sugar and fats. And for most people this definition is a good one to follow, for the most part. But instead of labeling foods “clean”, we should just look at foods as being nutrient dense or nutrient poor and try to opt for the former at least 80% of the time.