"Clean eating" is the catch phrase that has people everywhere talking, from Hollywood A-listers to moms chatting in the car pool line. Born out of the hippy movement in the 1960s, eating "clean" generally means cutting out all processed and fast food and instead focusing on whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
For many Americans it means shifting the way they think about, prepare and eat food.
Since eating clean eliminates all junk food, it cuts down the calorie count, fat content and sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredient intake of the average person on a daily basis. It also adds vitamins and nutrients to their diet that sadly most people are missing in this fast food age.
Unlike a diet, which implies a person is on it for a specific amount of time in order to lose weight, eating clean is a lifestyle shift. While losing weight can be a nice byproduct, it is most often not the reason someone chooses a "clean" lifestyle.
Being more aware of the food that one puts in one's body is the key to eating clean. This idea of being mindful is a health benefit often overlooked on a typical diet.
One of the reasons this type of eating has taken off is because there are no real rules. Just follow the general guidelines and each individual can pick whatever foods taste best to them.
Not a fan of broccoli? No problem. Munch on carrots.
Don't like apples? How about a pear instead?
Strict clean eaters forgo even foods that are slightly processed, like meat from a grocery store or bagged lettuce. But, more moderate clean eaters just opt for the less processed alternatives to allow for convenience and just be more lenient in their lifestyle.
Weight loss is one of the most obvious benefits of clean eating but there are other ones as well. Eating a wide variety of whole grains and vegetables can reduce the risk of diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and stroke, among other diseases.
Eating clean is not an easy option in this pre-packaged, flash frozen and fast food type of world. However, the benefits are impressive.