Clean eating. It's the hot new thing in nutrition, dieting, and cancer prevention. But what is it exactly?
The American Institute for Cancer Research asked Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN, during an AICR HealthTalk. Collins said, "Clean eating refers to a general concept of eating food in as close to its natural state as possible, minimizing or avoiding processed foods and refined sweeteners."
Collins is quick to point out that while this seems simple it isn't: Does clean eating mean just eating raw fruits and vegetables? What about meat? Is it water only?
While opinions vary, the good news about clean eating is its flexibility. Some proponents take a more narrow approach: organic produce, grass-fed meat, etc. Others are more lenient: If you desire to eat meat, simply stay away from processed meats such as bologna and sausage.
Saturated fats like butter are replaced by unsaturated fats like olive oil. As far as carbohydrates are concerned, they should be "complex" like those found in multigrain or whole grain products.
However, all would agree that the key is still portion control.
What does clean eating look like?
Well, instead of a store-bought blueberry muffin, eat oatmeal with blueberries. Pizza is no longer from Dominoes but made at home with a whole grain dough, turkey sausage, and arugula.
Also, a good rule of thumb regarding convenience (processed) foods and clean eating: Look at the label. If you can't pronounce an ingredient or an ingredient makes you cock your head to one side, don't buy or eat it.
Clean eating and cancer
You can imagine the chatter surrounding this "diet" and combating cancer. And while I couldn't find a scholarly article that discussed the idea of clean eating and cancer prevention -- articles tend to be more hyper-focused, e.g., salmon or blueberries and cancer prevention -- there are a lot of lay articles and blogs on the topic, such as:
There is also a Clean Eating magazine.
Before radically changing your own or your patient's diet, consult a nutritionist! While the foundation of clean eating seems like common sense, it is essential that dietary changes (especially adding supplements) be monitored. Also, the American diet is filled with sugar and cutting it out of your diet "cold turkey" may induce withdrawl-like symptoms.
Do you prescribe to a clean eating diet? Tell us about your experience with it.