Clean eating: A deceptive trend, but not how you might think

 09 Apr 2016 - 18:13

Clean eating: A deceptive trend, but not how you might think
(file photo / Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert / dpa)


Berlin: It turns out the newest diet trend, clean eating, is not really new at all. Clean-eating principles line up with the basic guidelines of a balanced diet, says Daniel King, a professor at the University of Freiburg in Germany.

It’s the presentation that has changed, not the content, said nutritionist Kathi Dittrich. Clean eating is now packaged to emphasize looking good and being fit. Other claims, such as how eating clean reduces headaches, have not been scientifically proven.

The basic concept behind clean eating is to avoid processed and ready-made meals and instead opt for fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are prepared at home. Dairy and meat products are allowed. Sound familiar?

According to King, it is possible to have "a healthy, balanced diet without any nutrient gaps," while following clean eating principles.

However, Dittrich emphasized that there is no agreed upon definition of what clean eating is and everyone should be careful when considering a new diet. For example, when a protein-rich, carbohydrate-free diet is recommended, be cautious before jumping in head first, she said.

"The main goal [of clean eating] is to replace empty calories with nutrient-rich foods," said Christina Wiedemann, author of a clean eating cookbook in German. Raw foods, or foods that have been lightly prepared with high-quality oils, are substituted for frozen pizzas or meals made with heavily processed ingredients.

It is very easy to lose weight while eating clean and without counting calories, said King.

A high-fibre diet that is full of fresh vegetables and whole grains fills you up fast with very few calories, he said. Plus, by cutting out processed foods, you automatically reduce your intake of sugars and fats, which are high in calories.

For those considering switching to a clean-eating lifestyle, Wiedemann recommends tidying up the kitchen first.

"Purge your pantry of processed foods," she said. Dittrich recommends a slower approach. First cut sugar and white flour from your diet, then gradually add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, she said.

Wiedemann also recommends starting the day with a clean breakfast and making sure to eat up to five small, clean meals per day.

What does a clean breakfast look like? It could be oats soaked overnight in milk, or something heartier, like smoked salmon with an avocado dill spread on spelt or rye bread, she said.

In Wiedemann's opinion, eating clean is "very straightforward," and can easily be incorporated into anyone's everyday life, Wiedemann said. And the best part, she stressed, is that everyone can decide how strictly they want to follow the rules.