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Eating Clean for Life

by Shannon Hyland-Tassava

About Shannon Hyland-Tassava

Shannon Hyland-Tassava has more than 16 years experience as a clinical health psychologist, wellness coach and writer. She is a health columnist for the "Northfield (Minn.) News" and has also contributed to "Motherwords," "Macalester Today" and two essay anthologies, among other publications. Hyland-Tassava holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois.


"Clean eating" is a term most commonly referring to a diet that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods and is low in saturated fat, added sugar, sodium, preservatives, artificial colors and artificial flavors. Foods included in clean eating are typically high in nutrients and fiber and are often organically grown and prepared. Many people are interested in clean eating for its health benefits, which include successful weight control and lowered risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases. Clean eating is healthy at any age. Its main ideas are simply basic nutrition guidelines that promote optimal physical health.

Step 1

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. A major tenet of eating clean is a focus on plant-based foods, which the American Cancer recommends. Fruit and vegetables are low-fat, low-calorie, high-fiber and packed with valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fight disease and keep your immune system strong.

Step 2

Choose whole grains instead of processed and refined grains. Whole grains provide fiber, protein and nutrients. Their unprocessed make-up means they are slow to digest and provide sustained energy rather than the extreme blood sugar spikes that often follow the ingestion of refined foods. A clean-eating diet includes plenty of couscous, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa and barley.

Step 3

Eat lean sources of protein. Many clean-eating diets are largely or completely vegetarian, emphasizing plant-based protein sources such as beans, legumes nuts and soy. These proteins are much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and higher in fiber and certain vitamins and minerals than meat. They also generally don't contain the preservatives, added hormones, antibiotics and other additives people often find worrisome about store-bought animal products. However, if you choose to eat meat, eat less of it and pick leaner cuts of meat, low-fat poultry and fish.

Step 4

Refrain from processed snack foods and sugary drinks. Eating clean means avoiding low-nutrient foods such as chips, candy, pastries and soda. Instead, choose whole-food snacks such as raw veggies with hummus or unbuttered popcorn. To drink, opt for water, herbal tea and almond milk rather than sugar-filled juices, sodas or blended coffee drinks.


  • Consult a registered dietitian for comprehensive advice regarding nutrition, diet and meal planning.


  • See your own primary care physician for medical clearance before beginning any new diet regimen.

Photo Credits:

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.