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Clean eating is generally defined as limiting your food intake to fresh, whole foods that haven’t been processed. This might include fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, meats, various dairy products, and eggs, but exact specifications vary from person to person.

However, there is little scientific evidence to suggest that avoiding processed foods altogether will – in and of itself – make you healthier, help you lose weight, or extend your lifespan. Instead, research shows that moderation may play a larger role in living and eating well.

Clean eating as defined above may be a good fit for many people, but that doesn’t mean it’s ideal for everyone. Here’s why:

How we define “processed foods” is relative

Not even the government has pinned down a definition for “processed foods,” and some processed foods—like whey protein—have demonstrable health benefits. Research also shows that people who limit their food options so stringently are less likely to maintain their diet.

Not all food additives are bad for you

In fact, some food additives are good for you! Many processed foods—like cereals and protein bars—are fortified with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (in this case, ‘additives’) that your body needs. Do your due diligence, however, to read the label before you buy to make sure your food doesn’t contain any of these.

Different lifestyles call for different diets

Someone working an office job has very different dietary needs than a bodybuilder. Since the key to good eating is moderation, an office worker who needs fewer calories may choose to eat low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods that are more filling and less palatable than sweets. On the other hand, body builders and athletes with higher calorie needs may eat foods that are calorie dense and less nutritious, so long as they’re consuming enough macro and micronutrients.   Ultimately, what matters most is choosing foods that make you feel good and eating them in moderation. A well-balanced diet should include whole foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, but there is plenty of room for foods that aren’t “clean,” so long as they aren’t your only source of nutrition. How do you choose the foods you eat? Tell us in the comments below!
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