What is clean eating? That’s a good question! Although the concept of “clean eating” is a bit of a mega trend at the moment, if you ask a “clean eater” to define clean eating you’ll get a number of very different answers.
Clean Cuisine’s definition of clean eating is a diet based on anti-inflammatory foods packaged in their most natural and nutrient-rich state. This means you want to choose whole foods that are unadulterated…just the way nature intended. You want to go for corn instead of corn flakes, flaxseeds instead of flax oil, steel cut oats instead of a granola bar that is “made with oats” (but also made with a bunch of junk like high fructose corn syrup, processed corn oil, etc.) In addition, Clean Cuisine’s anti-inflammatory diet places heavy emphasis on plant-based nutrition. Although you can still enjoy modest amounts of high-quality animal foods (such as grass-fed beef or pastured eggs) as part of the Clean Cuisine nutrition program, the bulk of your daily calories should come from phytonutrient-rich plant-based unrefined foods (lots of vegetables, fruits, unrefined whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, legumes, etc.) Seafood is also encouraged on the Clean Cuisine anti-inflammatory diet because it is so rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fats. When it comes to reducing inflammation, the dietary fats you eat (or don’t eat) make the biggest impact; and omega-3 fats are the most anti-inflammatory fats of all, so they play a very important role in our Clean Cuisine nutrition recommendations. In our Clean Cuisine book (Penguin, 2013), we go into great detail explaining the principles and research behind our nutrition advice, but this food pyramid is a good visual guide that should help answer the “what is clean eating” question and give you a better idea of what Clean Cuisine is all about:
recipe, foods such as meat and chicken are used more as condiments and flavor-enhancers rather than taking center stage at the dinner plate.
One thing that really sets Clean Cuisine apart from other “clean eating” programs is our understanding of that fact that the only way people are going to get the results they are seeking from changing their diet is if they make a lifetime commitment. Doing a 60 day “cleanse” and then reverting right back to your old eating habits is not going to give you long-term results. However, a lifetime of clean eating can be daunting if it is overly restrictive or if the food doesn’t actually taste good. And that’s where Clean Cuisine is very different from other “clean eating” programs. Our primary goal is life-enhancement; we want to enjoy our life maximally in every way possible. Clean Cuisine is all about eating the absolute best-tasting and most flavorful food. Furthermore, Clean Cuisine is strict when and where it counts most and lenient where it doesn’t matter so much. It’s a balanced way of eating that we promise will not decrease the pleasure in your life. For example, we borrow many cooking techniques and nutrition recommendations from vegan and raw food experts and we enjoy an abundance of vegan and raw food meals in our own diets, but we cannot make the commitment to being 100% vegan because if you dig deep into the nutrition research you realize that people who eat primarily vegan “whole foods” diets but also include a bit of fish, eggs and lean meats are every bit as healthy—if not more so—though those who follow a pure vegan diet. Additionally, we absolutely cannot find any scientific support for eliminating omega-3 rich fish from your diet either. Instead, what the medical research shows is that while it is true vegetarians have fewer heart attacks, less incidence of cancer, less obesity, lower body weights, less high blood pressure, and longer life spans in general, individuals who are not super strict at avoiding animal foods enjoy equally impressive health benefits across the board as long as the bulk of their calories come from whole plant foods with an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
In short, Clean Cuisine bridges the gap between what we should eat, what tastes good, what is best for our bodies and what is actually doable in the real world. Clean Cuisine encourages a sustainable way of eating that is in sync with the needs of our bodies and the environment. Here’s a little acronym that simplifies our Clean Cuisine philosophy: