As a personal trainer and health coach, I decided to devote the month of March to proclaim, from my soapbox, the benefits of a clean eating diet. Every Tuesday I dole out two tips on clean eating and my intention was to wrap it all up with a 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge.
Well… have you ever really dug into the science behind the diets?
It can be eerily similar to watching an episode of the The Real Housewives… pick your poison between Jersey, NYC, Beverly Hills, and all the OC.
If you’ve ever read a few of the science blogs, you can’t help but think of an old school barber shop filled with old men who’re cantankerous, rude, and get their rocks off by shrouding insults to one another in scientific jargon. It’s a hoot!
By the commentary alone, I’m sensing that there is a shared disdain among biochemists, food scientists, and basically all the mainstream medical practitioners, for the celebrity bloggers, bodybuilders, health coaches, and all related fitness professions. Their claim: these simpletons don’t know what they’re talking about and use anecdote as evidence, not science. (A big no-no in the billion dollar fitness and weight loss industry. Or is it?)
Ask the scientists and they’ll simply laugh at you (or rip you to shreds as seen in rebuttals) for believing the nutritional ‘con-artists’ who proclaim there’s an actual difference in the nutritional makeup between organic and conventional foods, and that Non-GMO’d foods are a healthier option over GMO’d.
And all you gluten avoiders, there’s talk out there that only about 1% of you are true celiac disease sufferers. Hmm, so basically all you others gluten-free passionistas are posers who get a kick out of eating gluten-free foods? I don’t think so. But who am I to say… science doesn’t like your success stories (because they’re just that… stories. Tall tales. Unsupported gibberish — a reminder, this is what they say, not me!)
Who are we to believe, the lab coats or the hippies?
On the other side of the fence, mosey on over to a different article touting a raw, vegan diet, and you may be convinced to drive to a farm in Vermont twice a week so your fridge can stay fully stocked with the freshest, most nutrient dense vegetables hand-picked from the finest organic soil in all the region. (Watch out for the locavore though who will condemn you as you lay down your massive carbon footprint, traveling up and down the northeast in search of real, raw food!)
It’s hard to say who is right, and who is wrong, but one thing is for certain and that is nothing is certain. But I’ll tell you one thing, if Sara from up the street just lost 50 pounds by cutting out deli meats and dairy, you can bet your bippy that Claire from one block over is going to be grilling her about her diet in the school parking lot Monday morning, taking notes.
What does all this mean?
Unfortunately, I did not walk away from those types of scientific throw-downs with much insight or clarity. Which leads me to lay down this blanket assumption that you may do what you wish with it: if you eat a lot of fast food, junk food, and fried food, you may benefit by adding in some vegetables.
Toss that around in your noggin for a bit and decide what you will. You can interpret it as mere banter from an unreliable source, or decide to clean up your act by eating less junky foods — mainly the ones that have a lot of added sugar, sodium, and trans fat.
An even better train of thought may be this: if you can’t make it from scratch, you may want to think twice about eating it.
And for all you worst cooks in America who are cringing at the mere implication of cooking at home, I’m simply saying if you can’t buy all the ingredients at your local store, maybe you shouldn’t eat it — and maybe you’d do well to invest in a few cooking classes. But that’s just coming from me, not a scientist.
It’s been proclaimed that a clean eating diet has been just the thing for many non-scientific people, and they will swear by it. The fact that they didn’t have people in lab coats following them around shouldn’t diminish their results. But I’d agree that we’re all adult enough to realize that there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ in the dieting, weight loss, bodybuilding, wellness arena. What matters is that you just show up and try your best.
And eat less junky foods.
If you like to break things down into bite-sized morsels, then I happen to have 5 tips that I think can help:
- Ease up on the “no packages, boxes or bags” theology (which I myself have touted in the name of unprocessed foods and clean eating) and instead give in to the convenience of frozen fruits and veggies, pre-washed spinach and bagged to the wazoo Trader Joe’s produce aisle. If you can clearly see what’s in the package and name it (i.e. broccoli, carrots, cauliflower) then buy it.
- Eat more vegetables. Like a lot more. That seems to be a simple, widely accepted ideology that has merit.
- Drink more water, all day long. Yes, you’ll have to visit the bathroom much more during the day but you’ll be flushing out toxins and other unnecessary waste your body is holding onto.
- Exercise every day. (I threw that obvious one in as a bonus and I’m pretty sure that one is backed by science 😉)
- Do what feels right for you to create a healthier lifestyle. No one theory works for all. The best thing you can do for yourself is to listen to your body (and your wallet) on what feels right for you and your family.
If these tips seemed obvious and super simple, that’s the point. Begin by making small changes in your diet, and over time you’ll be making a big difference in your health. Like really big. Super-sized big.
AM Costanzo lives in Westchester NY with her two rambunctious boys and her all-around awesome husband. She is a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and works hard to help women feel strong, powerful and downright fabulous in their bodies!