The Clean Eating movement has gained momentum over the past few years because people have become more aware of the less than desirable ingredients lurking in our food. Clean eating or eating clean emphasizes whole foods in a minimally processed state such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts and lean meats and avoids added preservatives and anything artificial such as flavors, colors and sweeteners. I guess you could say “Food as nature intended”. But the idea of clean eating has been around for centuries. God originally told Adam in Genesis 1:29 (HCSB), “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth – everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.” Adam and Eve did not have to worry about artificial preservatives, colors or flavors in their food because they only had the plants that God created for them. Later we read that God also offered all of the animals for food as well. So what should we be eating today? I think the time-tested advice of eating the “plants of the field” is good advice. I also see the benefit of including animal protein as well since many of the nutrients we rely on are found in animal meat. It seems that a balance of plant-based foods and animal protein were given to sustain us since time began way back in Genesis. The one restriction in the Bible given to all believers is to avoid excess, also known as gluttony.
Because of the changes in industrial food production, it is wise to look at where our meat comes from. How were the animals raised, what did they eat and how were they killed? These things influence the safety of the meat. Where do our fruits and vegetables come from? Were they grown organically or with chemical pesticides and herbicides? Was the soil fertile or depleted of necessary nutrients? Abstaining from meat is a choice for some people and should be respected as a personal preference. But being a vegan can make it more difficult to get certain nutrients in your diet and may require a vitamin supplement. So even though eating is a simple, instinctive thing to do, it can be difficult to know what to eat. Food is simple but nutrition is complicated. That is why I think it is best to focus on foods and the nutrients they provide rather than on nutrients individually. Each food contains multiple nutrients needed for health and they work better together than alone. And the truth is, we still have not identified all of the beneficial phytonutrients in foods that can confer health benefits. For that reason, let us eat whole foods to maximize nutrition and get the most enjoyment out of our meals. After all, eating or avoiding a food based on one thing it does or does not contain just does not make sense. Let us enjoy whole foods for the taste as much as the nutritional benefits. I think food was created to give us joy as well as sustain us. Just remember – all things in moderation!