Clean Eating Does Not Mean Barely Eating

We’re subjected to pictures and examples of meals with virtuous nourishment or “clean” eats on a daily basis.  Online, on television, in magazines it’s insane.  “Clean,” as it applies to consuming food, can be described as taking in minimally processed, nutrient dense, smaller meals that contain few ingredients.  Those who eat this way also aim to eliminate processed foods, preservatives, chemicals, saturated/trans fats and sugar.  Are  the meals balanced?  Sure.  Are the meals delicious?  You bet.  Are the meals enough?  Sometimes.  Well, it’s  debatable.  Let’s explore. 


Off the tip of my brain a sample “clean” breakfast might consist of a lean, mean, and obscenely green smoothie with a sprinkle of ground flax seed for healthy good fat measure.  A “clean” lunch might be a mashed hard-boiled egg with mustard on a whole grain tortilla, a dish of cubed melon and a scant handful of raw (and organic) almonds.  “Clean” dinner?  Try poached fish served alongside a thin smear of hummus, a lemon wedge and a green bean.  Ok, two beans (and they can be long.)  I kid.  Yet self-proclaimed nutritionists and media forums may suggest restricting more than just ultra-processed food, bad fats and sugars when sitting down to a “clean” meal.  Do you get what I’m implying?  Don’t get me wrong.  Scientific research continues to discover and document the benefits of consuming a variety of minimally processed food.  Combine these health benefits with piercing colors and a stunning presentation… “clean” meals are a true work of art.  All 250 calories worth.  I’m totally kidding again.  Mostly. 

Does anyone else catch sight of a “clean” meal and get the feeling that it’s a little stingy on the calorie front?  Not always of course but sometimes I think, “What a lovely snack, oh wait…my bad.  That’s someone’s dinner.”  Diligently consuming and feeling satisfied from three square 200-300 artfully arranged calories perplexes me.  Supporting an equally encouraged active lifestyle requires more than just Resting Energy Requirements.  So during National Nutrition Month, let’s simply distinguish “clean” from “extreme” and remember that  “clean” eating does not mean undereating or overeating for that matter.   It is our personal responsibility to feed a relevant variable that is often overlooked during the hype.  That is, our appetite.

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6 Responses to Clean Eating Does Not Mean Barely Eating

  1. Drew Matson says:

    Ok mollz…. Iv’e been trying to eat a “clean-er-ish” diet and basically trying to cut out all the super processed foods. But what exactly constitutes “clean” is a good whole grain bread still considered clean? (assuming the second ingredient isn’t high fructose corn syrup)

    • Molly says:

      Hey Drewski! Ultimately “clean” breads have as few ingredients as possible. In class we are taught to look for the words “whole grain” before the flour component (which is usually first.) While you’re at it, eyeball the fiber and fat content to prove that the grain was not stripped during processing of its fibrous bran and endosperm (which contains the healthy fat.) Yea, lol no HFCS. When they do go the processed route, clean eaters look at the ingredients list overall and make sure that man-made ingredients weren’t just added to boost the Nutrition Facts label / preserve the food. You may be interested in sprouted bread? Have you heard of Ezekiel? It uses no flour, only seeds, beans, lentils and stuff. Nice for a pace change.

      • Drew Matson says:

        I have not heard of any of those crazy things your talking about…. about the closest thing Iv’e ever had was a “spent grain bread” I made that used the leftover barley, oats and other grains from brewing…. I think we need to get together soon and have a talk about all this over a nice spread of home made hummus and all the “clean” fixins’

  2. Andrew Sepiol says:

    Good stuff! I’m a huge fan of eating a majority of minimally processed food that i cook myself but I’ve been finding myself still ravenous after dinner lately due to in season training volumes. My typical dinner consists of an herb baked salmon steak on a bed of brown rice, pacific nori, (Insert Asian stereotype here) and some sauteed veggies that i find laying around. Would you have any suggestions of adding anything to this meal? Keep in mind when hungry i can comfortably eat 2 Chipotle burritos.

    • Molly says:

      What comes to mind is recently I saved (in the refrigerator) the some sweet potato skins. (They had some middle sweet potato still attached.) When preparing lunch, I decided to enjoy them as appetizers by spreading some Naturally More peanut butter on them. By the time it was ready, I had ZERO appetite anymore! Needless to say I. Was. Flabbergasted. because that never happens to me. The fullness lasted for hours too.
      Now… it could have been the skins’ fiber, the protein/fat combo from the peanut butter, both, or maybe it was a Fluke, but I’d be curious to know if it’s filling to you or anyone else (or at least used to fill the stomach cracks.) Try that and let me know.

      • Andrew Sepiol says:

        Interesting…I never would have thought of that. I love sweet potatoes so this should be perfect. Thanks!

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