What Is Clean Eating?

So what is eating clean, anyway? Eating clean food is as easy as these simple guidelines! Post them on your fridge, give them a glance every so often to refresh your memory, and reap the benefits of a clean diet!
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By The Clean Eating Team

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The soul of eating clean is consuming food the way nature delivered it, or as close to it as possible. It is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation, leading to an improved life – one meal at a time.

Eat five to six times a day

Three meals and two to three small snacks. Include a lean protein, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and a complex carbohydrate with each meal. The steady intake of clean food keeps your body energized and burning calories efficiently all day long.

Choose organic clean foods whenever possible

If your budget limits you, make meat, eggs, dairy and the Dirty Dozen your organic priorities. To learn about what makes clean food organic, see What is Organic Farming, Really?

Drink at least two liters of water a day

Preferably from a reusable canteen, not plastic; we’re friends of the environment here! Limit your alcohol intake to one glass of antioxidant-rich red wine a day. For tips on tap water testing and purification as a part of eating clean, see Reconsider Tap Water: The Healthiest Water Options. 

Get label savvy

Clean foods contain just one or two ingredients. Any product with a long ingredient list is human-made and not considered part of a clean diet.

Avoid processed and refined foods

This includes white flour, sugar, bread and pasta. Enjoy complex carbs such as whole grains instead. Avoid these clean eating foes.

Know thy enemies

Steer clear of anything high in trans fats, anything fried or anything high in sugar. Avoid preservatives, color additives and toxic binders, stabilizers, emulsifiers and fat replacers. Check out this list of the top ten food additives to avoid See also Clean Eating Ingredient Guidelines.

Consume healthy fats

Aim to have essential fatty acids, or EFAs, incorporated into your clean diet every day. See this list of clean foods and CE-approved healthy oils.

Learn about portion sizes

Work towards eating within them. When eating clean, diet is as much about quantity as it is quality.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Eat produce that is seasonal and local. It is less taxing on your wallet and our environment.

Shop with a conscience

Consume humanely raised local meats and ocean-friendly seafood. Visit seachoice.org for a printable pamphlet.

Practice mindful eating

Never rush through a meal. Food tastes best when savored. Enjoy every bite!

Take it to go

Pack a cooler for work or outings so you always have clean food on the go.

Make it a family affair

Food is a social glue that should be shared with loved ones. Improve the quality of your family’s life along with your own by eating clean as a team.

See also 10 Reasons to Eat Clean.

  Browse our info on searches including Clean food diet, what does clean eating mean, clean eating foods, clean eating guide, clean eating rules.

  • swalker725

    I see that a lost of your recipes incorporate cheese, which I love. I’m eating clean, following different guidelines in that we’re not allowed cheese because it’s too high in saturated fat. what is your guideline for “too high in saturated fat?” thanks.

  • http://www.TheOrganizedPantry.org Lauren @TheOrganizedPantry.org

    I really love this list of what clean eating entails. Sometimes people are so familiar with fad diets that they seem puzzled when I use the term “clean eating” to describe my way of eating. This helps me have an idea of some examples to give them of what clean eating actually means! Great job.

  • Kris Johnson

    Actually saturated fat is not an enemy! Your body needs saturated fat, and makes it if you do not consume it. Just as it needs cholesterol for many functions in the body. It’s beneficial to get raw cheese from pasture raised cows – not the low fat processed kind. When you include good fats like butter and coconut oil, that helps to stabilize your blood sugar and helps your body burn fat like it’s supposed to – as long as you don’t go overboard on carbs. Good fats do not make you fat!

  • WimsThePhoenix

    Complex carbs turn into sugar. We just don’t need them. You get unnecessarily hungry and overeat if you eat carbs instead of fats. Complex carbs are no good for middle-aged people with insulin resistance.

  • TR

    I do not see any articles on baby formula or baby food. Is there a way to start your child off with clean eating from infancy if you cannot nurse the child? I do not think Enfamil and Similac meets the clean eating standards.

    • Bastah

      Just like you would not serve a cat a meatless diet, you can’t feed a baby your own special diet either. You have to stick with formula. When the child is one, then move on to your own diet.

    • Caroline Connolly McLoughlin

      I can’t comment on baby formula but go with baby lead weaning so no need for “baby food” baby eats the same as you. No pureed or jar food. It uses the concept of feeding baby solid “real” food from 6 months and that food before 1 is just for fun.. It is messy but great fun. Look it up and see what you think but just make sure it is baby lead weaning and not traditional weaning

  • http://www.sundried.com Sundried

    Everything is OK in moderation. Stay organic for everything if you can. From apples through to meat.


  • lynngirl42

    In other words… shop only from the perimeter of the market, avoid all processed foods, and take the time to cook from scratch. It’s really a no-brainer.

  • Nehamo

    eat natural food – wow, what a revolution.

  • Elena

    Invite you to read this article on Clean Eating – http://care4women.com/what-is-clean-eating/

  • armeniaman

    This may seem an absurd question but what is the point of clean eating? Is the idea to live longer? Have less illness?

  • vmorello

    Labelling certain foods or your entire diet as ‘clean’ is extremely unhealthy from a psychological point of view. You are practically setting yourself up for disordered eating if ever you break from your set ‘guidelines’, because your terminology makes failure and the resulting guilt that much more intense. Take it from someone who had a brush with death because of disordered eating, and be mindful of the language you use. Words have meaning. Food isn’t ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’, and you’re not being unclean or dirty if you don’t adhere to the above guidelines.



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