Clean Eating Debunked: Fact vs. Fiction

May 8 / CATEGORY: Nutrition

Estimated time read: 3 minutes

Clean eating has become a buzzword in the health and wellness industry. Social media platforms are littered with posts promoting it as the ultimate solution to weight loss, disease prevention, and a healthy lifestyle. But is it really that simple? Join us as we peel back the layers and see what’s really cooking.


What is clean eating?

Clean eating is like the Marie Kondo of diets—say goodbye to processed junk and hello to whole, unadulterated foods. It emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods while eliminating highly processed foods, refined sugars, and artificial ingredients. You’ve probably seen it all over your social feeds with hashtags like #cleaneating and #eatclean, serving as a siren call to wellness warriors everywhere.

Before you swap your pizza for a plate of quinoa, let’s debunk some myths, shall we?



Myth #1: Clean eating is the key to weight loss.

Sure, munching on Mother Nature’s finest fare sounds virtuous, but shedding pounds isn’t as simple as swapping fries for kale chips. Our weight status is determined through complicated biological processes that include several factors: genetics, social determinants of health, total caloric intake and composition, physical activity, and muscle mass. Research has shown that people who follow diets without long-term, sustainable lifestyle changes tend to regain all lost weight (and more) due to the restrictions they impose on their diet (Hall & Kahan, 2018).


Myth #2: Clean eating is the only way to eat healthy.

Maintaining good health requires a healthful diet, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition. Some may be tempted to follow a strict diet such as clean eating, but this approach is generally not considered sustainable long-term. A diet that balances nutrient-dense foods with enjoyable ones promotes long-term health, well-being, and satisfaction. Variety is the spice of life, and a balanced diet that includes a little bit of everything – yes, even chocolate – is the best approach to health.



Myth #3: Clean eating will prevent disease.

While clean eating sounds like a foolproof method for disease prevention, there is no conclusive scientific evidence supporting the idea that clean eating alone can prevent diseases. While it’s true that incorporating whole, unprocessed foods into your diet can benefit your health, it’s not the only factor determining your overall well-being. Genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors are other determinants of individual disease risk. To maintain optimal health, it’s crucial to implement health-promoting habits, like a balanced and varied diet and regular exercise.


The Problem with Clean Eating

Behind the pristine façade of clean eating lurks a dark side—a potential gateway to a disordered relationship with food. Imposing strict limitations on foods can cause harmful psychological effects. Say hello to guilt trips and anxiety when you dare to nibble on forbidden fruit (or, you know, chips). It’s a slippery slope into disordered eating territory and can harm mental and physical health in the long run.


So what?

Clean eating isn’t a silver bullet for all your health concerns. Embrace a more flexible, balanced approach to eating by listening to your body by prioritizing eating nutritiously and affordably with foods that satisfy your body and mind. Let’s say goodbye to fad diets and usher in an era of mindful and intuitive eating—one where joy, not guilt, fills our plates. After all, isn’t that what a healthy relationship with food is all about?






This post was co-written by:

Jessie Furman, MS, RDN, LD/N and Nirali Patel


Jessie is a Registered Dietitian and Assistant Director for Fitness & Wellness at the University of Florida’s Department of Recreational Sports, where she does individual nutrition counseling and coaching with the UF community. Follow her on Instagram for more nutrition tidbits.

Nirali is a Program Assistant with Nutrition Services at the Department of Recreational Sports. She is a 3rd year Dietetics major with a minor in Health Promotion.



Hall, K. D., & Kahan, S. (2018). Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. The Medical clinics of North America, 102(1), 183–197.