Home Friday 5 Friday 5: Five Major Misconceptions About Clean Eating, Cleaned Up!

Friday 5: Five Major Misconceptions About Clean Eating, Cleaned Up!

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Often, in the quest to become a clean eater, I see people who have pretty major misunderstanding about what clean eating truly is. It happens to the best of us – but what happens when those misunderstandings start turning people off from coming over to the clean side?

So now… it’s time to clear up some misconceptions about clean eating, and how we can make sure we straighten it all up.

1) Clean eating doesn’t involve sweets: Clean eating involves sweets, but it isn’t the “sweet” you’re used to having. White granulated sugar isn’t clean, but muscovado is. It’s also a much different flavor, as well, and you’d have to get used to that. Your favorite brands of ice cream might not be clean, but there are many which are… and they are delicious. Your favorite brownies might not be clean, but there are many which are… and they, too, are delicious. You just have to do a little digging to find the flavors, recipes and brands (if that’s your thing) you like the best.

2) Clean eating means no pork or beef: I hear this often because clean eating is mostly associated with people who aren’t omnivorous. That being said, clean eating isn’t only the home of the vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians or what have you. To eat clean beef, it’d need to be raised ethically, fed proper for a cow, not fed anything genetically modified, and not washed down with ammonia, to say the least. You find lots of people in the clean eating community who abstain from these types of meat because the price is a barrier. Not that there’s anything wrong with the price, but if you can get you protein from a cheaper source, many choose to do so. Lots of people abstain for ethical reasons, as well, and believing in food ethics is what brings them to the community. Don’t be swayed by that.

3) If you can’t be 100% clean, forget it: I believe that lots of people feel that trying to convert to clean eating is all for naught if you can’t dive in 100% on your first go. Honestly, I think that diving in head first 100% is a disaster waiting to happen. Not because it’s expensive – though I am an admitted el cheapo – but because when you life your life eating so much processed food, deli meats, and bad seasonings, you get used to food tasting a certain way and you become disappointed by the food you’re relegated to through clean eating. There are more flavors beyond “sweet,” “salty” and “omnomnomnomnomnom.” Taking it one item, one replacement at a time allows you to explore those flavors and not overwhelm yourself.

4) Clean eating is just about food: Clean eating also has a large environmental component to it, as well. If you’re eating less processed food, you’re creating less trash. There are no boxes to open with individually wrapped powdered/liquified ingredients to pour and mix together inside. There is no aluminum package to tear apart to pour contents out of. There aren’t wrappers on wrappers on wrappers to manage. It saves trash.

There’s also the hopefulness of how converting more and more people to clean eating could potentially mean more of an investment in a better model for raising beef and other factory farmed animals, but we’re still such a long way from there.

5) “Clean eating” is not the same as “eating a clean diet:” whereas one refers to the lifestyle I lead, the other refers to the concept of not cheating on your diet. Clean eating isn’t a diet, it is a way of life. You can “diet” and eat clean during it, but that concept of “dieting” has no place in clean eating. Y’all know I am anti-dieting, for real. You can have bread. You can have sweets.

If you’d like to learn a little more about clean eating, I’ve got two helpful posts that might shine a little light on the way I live.

Do you still have questions about clean eating? What misconceptions did you have about clean eating before you dove in?

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Tracie G., The Brown Skin Lady January 6, 2012 - 3:06 PM

Hi, Erika! Thanks so much for this list! I started incorporating clean eating into my diet last year, and I’ve seen a great difference; that said, I know desserts are an area I struggle with, even though I bake much more than I used to. Thank you for the muscovado information; do you have any other suggestions that can be used specifically for clean sugar substitutions in baked goods?

Erika Nicole Kendall January 6, 2012 - 10:07 PM

Did you check out the post about “five things to know about sweeteners?” Did you want something specific to baking?

Aisha January 6, 2012 - 4:59 PM

I find 1 and 2 to be the most pervasive misconceptions.

Ethel January 8, 2012 - 2:14 PM

I am confused about the bread. I stopped buying bread out of grocery stores now I purchase it from the bakery. My kids eat less of it now so its less of a wallet shock. But is this a more healthy option or am I wasting my money?

kimmie January 9, 2012 - 2:00 PM

Hi Erika.

Just wanted to say I got so excited when your face popped up on my AOL Dashboard. Nice HuffPo write up.

I should also remember not to read HuffPO comments from idiots, but that’s another story.

Keep up the good work, hon

Erika Nicole Kendall January 9, 2012 - 3:45 PM

You kind of have to avoid the comments on that site. It’s literally a minefield

At any rate, thank you 🙂

Breeona January 11, 2012 - 12:17 PM

I just have to say I love your blog it is not only inspirational but life changing as well. I would like to know though is clean eating in college possible I live in dorms and all I have is a microwave and a mini fridge, I try to make wise choices in the school’s cafe but I know more than half of that stuff is not good for me so I was just wondering if there were any suggestions as to how I can maintain a diet with out spending my book money?

Cassandra August 3, 2012 - 7:25 PM

I love this article. So happy I subscribed via facebook. Excellent information…

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