The Daily Gamecock

Column: Eat smart, not clean

While the trend of eating clean is highly renowned and popularized in today's society, it might work for some people but not for others. Those with busy lifestyles often can't make time for the preparation, planning and cooking which clean eating requires. So I offer a solution: Eat clean as much as possible, but don't sweat it if you can't fit it into your lifestyle every day.

According to WebMD, clean eating consists of a "diet plan of unprocessed, whole foods ... and no artificial ingredients, preservatives, 'chemically charged foods,' sugars, saturated fat, and trans fat."

While eating clean mgiht be good for you, it also has a great deal to do with the "hype" that comes with many diet trends. According to her website, Tosca Reno, who published the “Eat-Clean Diet” book series, made the clean eating trend popular. With her own blog, website, products, merchandise store and social media sites about the clean eating revolution, this is an all-in style of diet that might not appeal to the people who find it hard to fit a strict diet into their schedule.

But I have a different perspective. Although I support committed clean eaters in pursuing their goals, as a working student with extensive commitments, I understand that many people can't fit clean eating into their lifestyle 24/7. Encouraging eating cleaner foods with a more gracious, forgiving style of clean eating, I suggest limiting unhealthy foods, not eliminating them entirely, for those with busy schedules.

According to a group that studied the college student demographic59 percent of college students had food insecurities, meaning a doubt of being able to get healthy food. This is probably because of the life demands and financial struggles of many college students. Given these concerns, it is overly demanding to expect college students to follow a strict clean eating diet.

Flexibility is key to maintaining any long-term diet.

Eating well is such a multifaceted and complex issue that I decided to take a middle ground to fit with the complex schedule of many people who want to eat healthy but simply can't because of time commitments. Instead of a total restriction diet, people our age can choose to know about the healthy options out there and eat less of the unhealthy things. 

In a more flexible standpoint of attempting to eat clean, "knowledge is power" equips you to make the best choices when you can. Simply put, that means things like cutting back on the processed potato chips, eating pizza no more than once a week and trading that hamburger for a grilled chicken salad when you can.

As you can see, there is more than one side to this trend of "clean eating." While it can be a totalistic way of life, requiring a "clean break," it can also simply be a general guide to start making better food choices overall.