We Spoke To Dietician Sheela Seherawat About Clean Eating. Here's What We Learnt
Ms Sheela Seherawat, along with Mr Rajiv Seherawat, founded the Diet Clinic in 2005. Since its conception, the clinic has grown by leaps and bounds. Ms Sheela now mentors 36 centers across the country, after having trained the entire team of nutritionists working at the Diet Clinic. Her magazine and clinic made a place among '10 best startups in fitness' in the year 2017.
We reached out to her, and got all sorts of interesting insights about the ongoing trend of 'clean eating.'
Although there is nothing new and astonishing about it, it is simply a way we eat. At the same time, what makes all the difference is the way it adds to our ways of living that propel us towards healthy living, and thus our overall wellbeing.
The aim is simple. It says that you adopt a way of eating only natural and whole foods. No artificial foods and no refined and processed foods. Only eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains along with healthy proteins and fats.
People these days are more conscious and aware of the fact that food is the only element that can make them happy, by keeping them healthy and fit. Hence, more and more people, and also my clients, are readily adopting the means of healthy and clean eating.
SS: As I said, the term ‘clean eating’ simply means eating natural, healthy and whole foods and no processed or artificial foods. The major difference comes from the fact that while adopting clean eating, people refrain from eating refined grains, foods with additives and preservatives, processed foods that are laden with unhealthy salt, fat and sugar.
There are a lot of plans for clean eating and some are even so restrictive that it even does not allows coffee, dairy and even certain grains.
I don’t believe in being that restrictive, as I don’t want people to remove the term ‘enjoyment’ from eating. Also there is no scientifically proven fact that being so restrictive can actually help.
My idea is to be more mindful with what you eat. To me, eating clean is eating whole or real foods that have been either been not at all or minimally processed, handled and refined, thereby making them close to their natural form.
SS: People, and in particular the ones who have very less knowledge of clean eating and clean foods, start believing certain things and miss out on many vital aspect of total health like:
- Clean eating means only eating well: Some get so paranoid with clean eating and finding clean food, that if they somehow eat something that is not clean they start punishing themselves and their body.
- Start believing that some foods are naturally "dirty": Just because some foods might have additive, it does not mean that they are unhealthy. For example some milk products or milk supplements have added vitamin D. It does not mean that they are unhealthy and not clean.
- Many believe that clean eating is the only way of eating healthy: As I said, that clean eating is making mindful choices with food, and not always about being selective. There are certain foods that are really healthy but are not considered clean.
KZ: The recent trend of clean diets - like raw food diet, vegan diet etc - has been correlated with increasing prevalence of the eating disorder orthorexia nervosa. Is that something you see in your practice? If so, can you shed some light on it?
SS: There are many people who become so obsessed and staunch with clean eating, and finding the right clean food, that they start punishing themselves physically and mentally when they put something in that they believe is not clean.
Medically such conditions are termed as ‘orthorexia nervosa.’ There are numerous clean eating diet that fall under the category of orthorexia.
People who have the conditions of orthorexia nervosa though eat healthy foods, the way they fix their foods is absolutely unhealthy. It has also been observed that people who get affected with orthorexia nervosa often isolate themselves as they fear criticism from people who do not follow their style of eating and way of living.
KZ: What are the health concerns associated with clean eating? Do you feel people lose out on getting adequate nutrition, in the name of clean eating?SS: Though you hardly have any negatives of following a clean eating pattern, it depends on the methodology that you adopt, and also with clean eating you need to get a little restrictive with your food choices.
First of all, clean eating is a not always as convenient as it might sound. Eating out is a real challenge for clan eaters, and also it takes more of your time in meal preparation than normal eat. When you are at home and make multiple meals for yourself and your family, it might not be that inconvenient but when you are on the go or travelling, it could be a challenge.
One of the biggest disadvantages is with people who adopt to clean eating for the sake of losing weight or getting leaner. Yes, clean eating is a great way of getting total nourishment and total health, but is not meant for a slimmer you. However, it is true that eating clean means eating lesser calories and staying fuller for long that will help in weight management, but just for losing weight it is not the way forward.
SS: Plant-based diets are good for everyone – your health, your weight and even the environment. I believe that a plant-based diet is one of the most effective and strong ways to move towards improved health, heightened energy levels and prevention of chronic ailments.
Plant-based diet or plant food eating is a way of eating foods that are based out of plant sources. This type of diet does not only suggest eating fruits and vegetables, but the best plant-based diet that is healthy and fulfilling is the one that also has seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, legumes, whole grains and all types of food that are derived from plants.
This way you are able to get all the important and vital nutrients that you might miss out by not having food from animal sources. There are certain essential nutrients that the body cannot manufacture on its own, and can get only through food sources. And having a wide array of plant-based food in the diet is the best way to get all the essential nutrients that our body needs to function, develop and grow.
SS: I believe that the emphasis should be on eating clean in a way that works for you, even if it may have to allow you some non-clean food. Cutting out totally on other foods apart from fruits and vegetables can impact your health in a negative way, therefore, before you opt for a clean food diet do consider the following vital aspects:
- Do load up on fruits and vegetables.
- Do not forget the whole grains.
- If you meat eat, eat very less.
- Get lots of healthy fats through seeds and nuts.
- Be wary of processed and sugary foods.
- Watch the sodium intake.
- Eat your own cooked foods.
- Balance your meal well.
- Eat atleast 5 to 6 smaller meals a day for better results.
- And avoid drinking your calories.
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