The dirt on clean eating – by guest expert Kasey Bateup APD

Watch out Paleo, there’s a new diet on the block, and this one is all about clean eating; and no, it has nothing to do with scrubbing your vegetables or using soap on your salad. Dietitian Kasey Bateup investigates and gives us the scoop.

About our expert:

Kasey is an Accredited Practising Dietitian working for Nutrition Australia ACT Division. In this varied and stimulating work environment, she provides nutrition expertise across many community nutrition projects. This includes working closely with ACT school canteens to implement the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines; developing nutrition curriculum for primary and secondary schools; delivering workplace health and wellbeing programs; nutrition policy development and liaising closely with local Government.  We’ve loved having her as the February Sub of the Month.  Check out her full bio here and connect with Kasey on Twitter @KaseyBateup or Pinterest.

This topic has gone so mainstream there is even a “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean” book…I’m not kidding. But before we get ready to drop the ‘f-word’ (fad diet) and dismiss this as the macrobiotic trend revisited, it is important to get the facts on clean eating, including the dirty ones.

Clean eating 101

The clean eating movement is not new, rather like in the world of fashion it has simply been reinvented with a shiny new badge. Clean eating is all about choosing foods that are as close to nature as possible. This means consuming largely unprocessed foods, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean meat, fish and poultry, and reduced fat dairy. What makes ‘clean eaters’ different from other health conscious folks is that they try to avoid all highly processed foods; think white flour, refined rice, margarine, condiments and canned foods.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Clean eating basics

  • Meals and snacks should serve up a trio of healthy carbohydrates, powerful protein and essential fats.
  • Eat three small meals and two substantial snacks to avoid extreme hunger and overeating at the next occasion.
  • Let fresh vegetables take centre stage and make sure that they fill up half of your plate.
  • Organic and non-genetically modified produce are preferred, but not essential.
  • Avoid foods with an ingredients list that contains more unfamiliar ingredients than familiar ones.
  • If what you put in the microwave comes out a ready to eat meal, with no preparation required, put it back.
  • Forget about kilojoule counting. Instead make every mouthful count by choosing nutrient dense foods and drinks rather than energy (kilojoule) dense options.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Get physical, (with or without the Madonna soundtrack), on most days of the week.

A day in the life of a clean eater

Equipped with her cleanest recipes, US Registered Dietitian, Janel Funk from Eat Well with Janel has created a week long clean eating meal plan for Attune Foods. This is a snapshot of clean eater’s daily intake:

Pros and cons of clean eating

Firstly, I love the concept of consuming foods as minimally processed as possible. However, in a world where many people struggle to meet the recommended daily serves of vegetables, the idea of only consuming fresh or organic may be a little unrealistic. The rules may need to bend to include frozen and salt reduced canned varieties.

Secondly, I really dislike the word ‘diet’. Ironic isn’t it that my chosen career path led me to become a dietitian? To me diet means that there is a finite end point, and once you have reached that point, and achieved your goal you can go back to eating as you once did. This is why I like that people who follow the clean eating lifestyle, see it as exactly that, a lifestyle not a diet, and that gets the thumbs up from me.

Clean eating is an environmentally conscious way of eating. There is less food packaging, less carbon offsets in production factories, a  focus on eating locally and choosing in season produce, which all contribute to a more sustainable food supply system.

This lifestyle in it’s purist form may not appeal to those who struggle to gulp down breakfast in the morning, as it requires organisation, meal planning, food preparation and cooking skills. Then again, most healthy eating endeavours do.

Finally, the focus of clean eating is about consuming real food, without gimmicks or spruiking unnecessary and often expensive supplements.


For further information about clean eating, visit:

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean” by Diane A. Welland, MS, RD

Or you may also like the Scoop post on Redefining Detox by Stephanie Langton with links to another article in Today’s Dietitian plus Michelle Dudash’s RD new book Clean Eating for Busy Families.

Editor’s comment:

Thanks Kasey, great scoop and so fab getting to know you.  I think it’s interesting that the top pinterest searches for clean eating are all chocolate recipes!  Hmmmm.  I’m keen to hear what our lovely readers think?  Do you like to label a lifestyle?  Does it help build motivation and community? Is this an approach that works?  For you or your clients? Or not? What’s your definition of clean eating?

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