Back to the Basics of Clean Eating

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What is the new trend in nutrition?Is it organic, local, low-carb / high carb, or low-fat? Is it wine and chocolate or some other fabulous quick fix for health?

When it comes to food, we are all too familiar and confused by the various trends that have popped up over the years. Do we choose to eat local or pick that organic and exotic fruit picked from a thousand miles away?And what is the real story on carbohydrates? How does wine, chocolate, and fat really affect us?It seems that past trends often leave us without much choice at all! In addition, the last few decades have seen a movement towards “quick fixes” in weight, health, and food.Research shows that eating out of convenience (rather than nourishment) has led to higher intakes of fast or processed foods, furthermore leading to increases in chronic diseases such as Diabetes and Cancer along with heart disease and inflammation.

Based on this data, nutrition has now taken a turn for the better through clean eating. Clean eating is the idea of consuming local foods in their most natural, fresh, and whole food state.Ingredients are unadulterated and minimal.Clean eating also avoids preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners and colors, and trans-fatty or hydrogenated fats.But the spectrum of “clean food” only starts with the fruit or vegetable picked directly from the garden. Whole grains, fresh meats, canned or frozen vegetables, breads, and cereals, minimally processed and with little to no added salt or sugar, can also be considered a clean food.Highly processed foods are those farthest away from their natural state; poked, prodded, and mixed with various other non-foods.

Nutritious and tasty whole foods are good for our bodies, our wallets, and the environment.Clean eaters will find themselves eating fresher and thus more nutritious foods along with eating less processed, salty, sweet, and fatty foods.Cooking at home increases and whole foods, such as un-cut vegetables or whole chickens, are preferred over pre-packaged foods, lowering food costs.Eating fresh whole foods also calls for less of an environmental impact as there is less to process, less waste in packaging, and less miles travelled.

Trends have come and gone but the traditions of yesterday have held strong.Clean and simple whole foods, processed minimally and prepared with love in our own kitchens, returns to the forefront of nutrition and bring us back to the basics.

Photo Credit: Jun Belen

About The Author

Manuel Villacorta is a registered dietitian (RD) and certified specialist is sports dietetics (CSSD) with more than 16 years of experience. He was recently appointed national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, which identifies him as one of the United States’ leading weight loss and nutrition experts. Villacorta is the owner of San Francisco-based private practice MV Nutrition, the recipient of two consecutive “Best Bay Area Dietitian” awards (2009 and 2010) from the San Francisco Chronicle and Citysearch, and the creator of the Eating Free™ weight management program. Villacorta also developed MV Professional Nutrition (a software suite designed to assist RDs with their own private practices) and created www.eatingfree.com (an international, Internet-based weight loss and weight management program). Villacorta is a compelling, charismatic communicator—a public speaker, who is often praised for making audiences feel, heard, motivated, and engaged. His warm, approachable style, alongside his strong bilingual proficiency in both English and Spanish, have made him an in-demand health and nutrition expert on both local and national television and radio, and in articles in print publications and online. Villacorta worked closely with Dr. Nancy L. Snyderman, chief medical editor of NBC News, to provide expert nutrition advice on a number of topics for the BeWell network. He is often invited to speak at annual state and national conventions such as The Oregon Dietetic Association (where he was the keynote speaker), and The American Dietetic Association (where he spoke to other dietitian professionals about his successful private practice). Villacorta has acted as a media representative for food companies such as Foster Farms (one of the largest chicken producers on the West Coast) as well as for such California statewide health campaigns as the “California Latino 5-A-Day Program” and “Got Milk.” Prior to setting up his private practice, Villacorta worked as a public health dietitian for California Children Services and the Prenatal to Three Initiative, where he offered prenatal, infant, and childhood nutrition consulting. He has worked as a clinical dietitian for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco and has held a faculty position with the School of Nursing at the University of San Francisco. Villacorta received his bachelor of science in nutrition and physiology metabolism from the University of California, Berkeley, and his master of science in nutrition and food science from San Jose State University. He has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his research, including the Outstanding Master of Science Degree Award from San Jose State University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science.

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