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"Clean Eating" and Other Popular Health Phrases Explained

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on May 14, 2015

If you are looking for information about different types or theories of eating, you will often hear buzz words. 


It seems that a new "diet" is being introduced all the time. Emily Wolfe, a registered dietitian at Johnson Memorial Health, says, "I talk to patients regarding the benefits of eating more whole, unprocessed foods; however, a healthy diet can be achieved with all types of food sources. I feel that ALL foods can fit into a healthy diet and that a healthy diet does not need to consist of special, sometimes more expensive, foods." 

She listed some easy ways to introduce a more "clean" diet:

  • Switch out canned vegetables for frozen vegetables. Bags of frozen vegetables are easy to prepare and comparable in cost to canned vegetables.
  • Choose water instead of sugar sweetened beverages, such as soda. You can even "flavor" your water with lemon, limes or strawberries!
  • Choose canned fruits packed in their own juice or low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, instead of processed snack foods that are boxed or bagged.
  • Balance your food intake with physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity everyday!

Clean Eating

The concept of  clean eating is basically to focus on eating healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. The phrase "clean eating" is a recent title, but the principle has been around for some time. Most public health organizations recommended eating healthy, unprocessed foods. Here are some tips for following a clean eating plan.


  • Choose whole, natural, and unprocessed foods. Stay away from foods that come in a box,can, or package. If you must use a packaged food, pick one that has five or less ingredients. The ingredients should be words you can pronounce! 
  • Choose unrefined foods over refined foods. Some examples of unrefined foods include beans, brown rice, millet, quinoa, honey, maple syrup, and sugar cane juice. Stay away from refined foods like white flour, white rice, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar.
  • Watch out for fat, salt, and sugar.  
  • Eat several smaller meals throughout the day. 


  • Eating many small meals takes away the need to calorie count. Being full from these small meals takes away the need to snack on junk foods.
  • Eating healthy, natural foods can increase energy levels and promote good sleep habits. 


The Paleo lifestyle focuses on foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten. It includes grass-fed meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and some oils. Here are some paleo tips.


  • If its precooked or prepackaged, don't eat it.
  • Eat more protein and less dairy and grains.
  • Focus on fruits and vegetables. 
  • Eat more potassium and less sodium
  • Cut polyunsaturated fats and focus on omega 3s.


  • Fruits and vegetables have a low glycemic index
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables will increase your vitamin and mineral intake and promote good health
  • Reduces risk of chronic diseases related to insulin resistance
  • The high-fiber content of the lifestyle will promote better gastro-intestinal health

For more information, click here for a post about Paleo.


Following a vegan diet means eliminating meat, fish, poultry, and animal byproducts for your diet. Animal byproducts include foods like eggs, honey, and dairy. This diet is harder to follow since animal byproducts can be found in many places you wouldn't expect such as food dyes. Here are some basic points of the vegan lifestyle.


  • If it's from an animal, don't eat it.
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts. 
  • Limit high fat foods.
  • Spend time outside. Vitamin D is difficult to get from vegan foods alone.


  • The diet is cholesterol free and low in saturated fats which reduces the risk of heart problems
  • Better control of diabetes
  • Healthy body mass index
  • Reduced blood pressure

Gluten Free

Eating gluten free is primarily for those with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, triticale, and rye.  Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye. Eating a gluten free diet is one of the only treatment plans for those with an intolerance or celiac disease. Although, there are no proven health benefits to a gluten free diet to those who show no signs of intolerance, many people choose this type of diet because they feel it will help them lose weight and gain more energy.  Here are the basic guidelines for a gluten free lifestyle.


  • Avoid gluten containing foods. Generally, those containing wheat, barley or rye.
  • Avoid beer, cakes, cookies, cereals, etc unless they are labeled "gluten free"
  • Eat beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
  • Fresh eggs, fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Cider is naturally gluten free
  • Most dairy products are gluten free


  • People with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease suffer from less symptoms and complications
  • Increased energy levels


The Mediterranean diet is focused on eating foods found in the areas around the Mediterranean Sea. The style of cooking from countries such as Greece and Italy, have been known to reduce heart disease and provide a well balanced diet.


  • Focus on healthy, non-processed foods
  • Focus on plant based foods.
  • replace butter with healthy fats, like olive oil
  • Use herbs instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Eat more fish and poultry and less red meat
  • Choose low fat dairy


  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
  • Reduced blood pressure levels

Are there other healthy eating buzz words that you'd like us to explain? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Topics: Nutrition, Wellness