‘Clean eating’ making comeback


With new year’s resolutions to lose weight and get in shape less than a month old, advertisements have flooded onto TV, magazines and radio. Various programs promise rapid, extreme results for weight loss by following certain dietary rules.

A growing trend for 2013 is “clean eating,” or the elimination of all processed food and the consumption of only fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.

“Whenever foods are processed there is the potential for the loss of nutrients,” said Linda Yarrow, assistant professor of human nutrition. “Often times, fiber, which is helpful in digestion, is lost. Many vitamins are also lost during processing.”

Clean eating has been backed by celebrities such as supermodel Heidi Klum, and there is a magazine dedicated to the practice (www.cleaneatingmag.com). According to the website, “In every way, clean eating is all about consuming whole food in its most natural state, or as close as possible. Take a creative yet doable approach to cooking, you’ll find it easy to enhance the natural flavors of any meal without compromising the integrity of your food. When it comes right down to it, ‘Clean Eating’ is not a diet; it’s a way of improving your life—one meal at a time.”

While the name “clean eating” may be relatively new, the concept isn’t, Yarrow said.

“It has always been out there. We are just calling it by a different name,” Yarrow said. “The high fruit and vegetable, whole grain and lean-meat diet has always been recommended for healthy weight loss or maintaining weight. The name might be a fad, but the idea itself is not.”

Although healthy eating may be a heavily preached concept, there are still many reasons people continue unhealthy diets.

“Processed foods are convient,” Yarrow said. “Even when people buy fruits and vegetables they often stick them in the fridge, and when they are there for a long time they lose nutrients and become less desirable. People pitch them. It’s more convenient to buy frozen or canned food that lasts longer.”

In addition to cutting out processed foods there are ways to reduce sugar and oil while getting more fruits, dairy or vegetables. Many recipes for homemade baked goods offer healthier ingredient alternatives, such as replacing oil with unsweetened applesauce, carrot puree or nonfat plain yogurt. Different recipes may experience slight texture or taste changes with ingredient replacements.

People’s Grocery, 1620 Fort Riley Blvd., specializes in whole, unprocessed products. They also carry many chemical-free foods.

“We have local food and produce, all from within a 20 to 40 mile radius of Manhattan,” said Scott Brelsford, general manager of People’s Grocery. “When we talk to anyone about carrying their products, we make sure they don’t use chemicals or pesticides, or hormones if it’s meat. If products have any of those things we label it as such.”

Following a clean diet can help people either lose or maintain weight, although it is most effective when combined with regular exercise.

“Food and exercise both have a very important role in losing weight. You can do it through virtually one alone, but that isn’t nearly as effective,” Yarrow said. “Eventually during weight loss, you will hit a plateau. If you are only doing a restricted diet, or only exercising, you may hit that plateau sooner. Those who do both a restricted diet and exercise tend to see better results and more sustained weight loss.”

Completely changing diets can be a difficult switch, but there are methods to help ensure success.

“A lot of people who start a new diet try to change all at once, and it doesn’t stick,” Brelsford said. “Don’t make drastic changes all at once. Talk to people who are already doing it, and learn. Try to start small.”

My Experience with Clean Eating

I decided to give “clean eating” a try when the spring semester began. In the weeks before, I’d gotten into the habit of eating whatever I had at my apartment- even when it wasn’t healthy. I decided to cut out most processed foods and focus on eating more fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meat. It was hard. I’m a busy person, and most convient foods are highly processed and include many ingredients I can’t even begin to pronounce.

Eating cleanly took extra planning. I had to pack fresh snacks when I went to campus, because I couldn’t rely on grabbing something from a vending machine in between classes. My usual breakfast of Fruity Pebbles cereal was replaced with regular oatmeal. I ate more fruits and vegetables because I made a conscious effort to do so. I also drank a lot more water than I normally do.

I did cheat a little on a true “clean” diet and ate some regular peanut butter and chicken that I’m sure had chemicals in it, but I still cut out a lot of what I normally ate. I broiled my chicken instead of frying it, and I used whole wheat pasta. I could still eat pretty much what I normally did, but with healthy changes.

After following a mostly clean diet for only two days, I could already feel a difference. I was less tired in the afternoons. I was also generally happier. I felt motivated to do things like walk to campus instead of driving and drink more water between meals.

I know that a lot of my meals previously relied on convenience because I didn’t have the time, money or resources to eat extremely “clean.” Since my experiment, however, I have made small changes to healthier eating. I still bring fresh snacks to campus, drink more water and think twice before frying things. It takes a conscious effort, but the added energy and sense of accomplishment I feel from eating better is a great benefit.

Jena Sauber is a junior in journalism and digital media. Please send comments to edge@kstatecollegian.