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Ask a Nutritionist: What is ‘Clean Eating’?

TheGo asks our local, qualified and respected nutritionists a question that has been puzzling you. This week it’s about eating clean — you’ve heard it spoken about a lot, but what exactly does it mean? We also welcome Kymbo Westcott from Paleo Café Townsville as our guest contributor this month.

If you have a food query for our expert panel to answer, or would like to be a guest contributor, please email [email protected].


Mitch Smith – Health Management

Everywhere you look, everyone is trying to eat clean. It’s as if people are literally whipping out the ‘spray and wipe’ and cleaning all of their food! But in all honesty, ‘clean eating’ is a diet that cuts out all processed foods, refined carbs and added sugar, as well as dairy.

It focuses on increasing fruit and vegetable intake and avoiding grains, particularly those of the white variety.

The biggest concern I have about clean eating is that it is very exclusive and basically puts labels on some foods as being ‘bad foods’ or ‘dirty foods’ (again, not enough spray and wipe). For example, what did a regular potato or white rice (even basmati) ever do to us? Sure, sweet potato is a better option, but it doesn’t mean we should cut out white potato all the time.

Cutting out dairy is another issue all together and grouping all types of dairy as being ‘bad’, is also another premise that is deeply concerning.

We are continually living in a world where we are obsessed about excluding food groups and cutting foods out of our diet rather than focusing on being inclusive of good quality and healthy foods.

So, next time you are reading your favourite gossip magazine and come across an article about a celebrity who “lost 10kg in just one week” by cleaning up their diet, you will know all about how discriminatory they were against ‘white foods’.

About Mitch Smith

Health Management

As an accredited dietitian and accredited sports dietitian; it’s Mitch’s mission to debunk as many nutrition myths as possible. He works with elite professional athletes from a range of sports such as triathlon, body building and football, as well as the Cairns Taipans NBL team (don’t hold that against him!). Mitch has a passion for helping men lose weight and get fit and healthy. He practises what he preaches and translates complicated nutritional jargon into easy-to-understand advice. Mitch has just completed his first Half Ironman in Cairns.

Emily Madden – Compleat Nutrition

Clean Eating’ is just another name for healthy eating. We, as a society, get so caught up in the jargon surrounding nutrition and following a healthy lifestyle we forget how simple healthy eating can be.

With simplicity in mind, a healthy diet is one with variety — yes — you heard it correctly, you can eat cake — it comes back to the frequency and portions that are the crust of a poor diet. Unfortunately weight management or monitoring is something we all face in order to prevent our increasing risk of chronic disease. The solution to this is that simple concept mentioned earlier of everything in moderation.

Somewhere along the way we have become lost in the numerous fancy diets, fads and cleverly-named dietary or lifestyle plans on the market. They tend to promise the world and unfortunately may result in disheartened, hesitant, deceived and unmotivated individuals.

I always caution people when purchasing any trendy food/s or diets endorsed by famous or well-regarded individuals that do not have qualifications in nutrition science. If there is a financial gain to be had by an individual promoting a food, unfortunately it’s probably too good to believe. Now don’t get me wrong, if by calling a healthy lifestyle ‘clean eating’ is what’s required to assist in improving an individual’s diet, then — hey — I don’t mind what name it’s called.

For me, I define healthy eating as a diet rich in variety focusing on foods where you get more bang for your buck. Where more bang = foods full of nutrients (think fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, low fat dairy) and buck = eating for your daily energy requirements.

About Emily Madden

Compleat Nutrition

Emily holds a Bachelor of Nutrition & Dietetics from the University of the Sunshine Coast and is an accredited practising dietitian/nutritionist with the Dietitians Association of Australia. She is currently studying to become a sports dietitian with Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). Emily says the reason why she loves being a dietitian is simple: “At the end of a day, driving home and knowing that I have assisted someone in improving their long-term health and reducing their risk of chronic disease, is very fulfilling and rewarding to me”.

Kymbo Westcott – Paleo Café Townsville

Clean eating is about celebrating beautiful, fresh, seasonal produce and eating as Mother Nature intended.

At Paleo Café, we choose to use all the essential elements of good nutrition, including lots of seasonal veggies, high-quality protein, seasonal fruit and healthy fats, while avoiding refined sugar, legumes, gluten, grains, dairy and processed ingredients.

Our approach to eating is based on the Palaeolithic era before the convenience of packaged foods and we’ve worked closely with a nutritionist to develop our food pyramid, which promotes eating mainly plant-based foods, followed by animal foods and herbs and spices.

We love helping to educate our customers about food and how it can impact the body and have a range of resources and books available to purchase in the café. We highly recommend finding a happy balance that works for your body and including foods that contribute to your health.

We also recommend taking an 80-20 approach to your diet, which means eating within the above-mentioned framework 80 per cent of the time and enjoying other foods 20 per cent of the time. We find this is a sustainable approach to food and proof that eating clean is a lifestyle rather than a fad or diet.

About Kymbo Westcott

Paleo Café Townsville

Coming from a farming background, Kymbo started his Paleo lifestyle after wanting to improve his health and fitness. He opened Paleo Café Townsville in 2014, which won the franchise of the year, and has helped countless customers who have transformed their health. Kymbo is passionate about making a difference in our local community for the current generation as well as generations to come.

The information provided is general in nature and should not substitute any health or medical advice. Please consult a qualified professional to assist with any specific conditions or queries. The opinions expressed as those of the individual columnists. You know the drill…

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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