Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Clean Eating: What Is it?

There are SO many people out there, both well-educated and decidedly NOT, throwing around the term "clean eating".  I get questions almost every day about what exactly clean eating even means. How can you know a program is a safe, well-researched plan, instead of a waste of your time and money (and possibly even dangerous to your health)?  What do we mean when we say "clean eating"?

First of all, I think the gold standard program for clean eating is Whole30.  While they have written books, everything you need to do the 30 days, from guidelines to recipes to user forums, is available on their website for free.  (There are plenty of "extras" that you do need to pay to access though). Seth and I have done two rounds of Whole30, and I really believe it is life-changing.

That being true, Whole30 is incredibly challenging.  You must make every single ingredient that you eat from scratch.  It is possibly not even feasible for many people, especially those who work long hours without an at-home spouse who cooks, or those who have many obligatory work functions, or who travel for work.  Many people may need more convenience or support and accountability than they offer.  Or maybe you have done a Whole30, and you want more of a long-term maintenance program.  So what then?

If you are looking into other plans and programs to change how you eat, what should you be looking for, to know it is safe?

1) Education

The number one benefit of any plan, the ONE thing that will allow you sustain changes that you make, is knowing and understand why those choices are right for you.  There should be a process in place to get a good, solid education in nutrition.

2) Private, personal coaching  

You should be regularly speaking to a leader who gets to know you and your body, and who is able to give you personalized ideas and advice.  If you are doing a program where you never hear from a leader, or where no one ever checks in to see how you are faring, that can be a sign of poor coaching.

3)  Formalized accountability and support  

It is proven that if you have accountability from others who are participating in the program at the same time as you, you will have better results and stick with it for longer.  There should be a simple format or place where you can regularly ask questions, share ideas, and encourage each other without going through a leader.

4) No fads, no silliness, no dangerous choices 

This is a big one-the plan you choose should never involve anything that you couldn't/shouldn't continue for the long-term, or that you can't easily find reliable scientific research for.  That means no fasting, no pills, no juicing, no wraps, no patches, no odd lemon-cayenne cleanses, etc.  None of that.  Ever.  Any of those things should be a red flag to you that a program is shenanigans.  A whole-food based plan is the only way to go.

5) No counting calories or carbs or restricting.  

When you are eating a very strictly clean diet, you do not need to count points or calories.  You can safely eat to satiety, because your body will naturally stop you at a healthy intake.  (It is really hard to overeat green vegetables, trust me!)

What does a good program usually involve?

1) Removing Allergenic & Irritating Foods 

Many programs, including Arbonne's program and the Whole30, involve removing many common allergenic and irritating foods from your diet for a set period of time.  Doing this allows your system to "reset", and by the end of that period, most people see relief of many negative symptoms.  Then, after that time is over, you will follow the allergy reintroduction protocol and add back in one food at a time, every three to five days.  You will journal through the reintroduction and pay careful attention to how your body reacts.  We know that certain foods are directly related to certain symptoms, so it is easy to catch when your body doesn't love a certain food.  And after that, you decide if those symptoms are miserable enough to remove those foods from your diet for good, or not.  It is entirely up to you!  So what foods are we talking about?  Dairy, soy, gluten, sugar, alcohol, artificial sugar. Basically, the things that you have inkling that you should cut back on anyway :)

2)  Alkaline State

The second really essential component to a good, healthy clean eating program is encouraging your body to get back into a alkaline state.  Acidic states are directly correlated with inflammation in your body.  Chronic body inflammation is associated with pain of all kinds, like joint pain and arthritis, migraines, stomach pain, and a host of other issues, like skin problems, rashes, and allergies and asthma that get worse over time.  Chronic inflammation can also be a precursor to more serious diseases, like cancer.  We encourage this switch by limiting acid-forming foods in the diet, and adding in foods that help alkaline the body.

What about weight loss?

I can tell you that in my experience as a leader, everyone who follows Arbonne's clean eating program loses weight.  Every single person.  That being true, that is not our primary purpose.  Our main goal is to improve your health in measurable ways, and we find that we are very successful at doing that.  We are just also very successful at weight loss.  (Despite having regularly followed the program myself for almost two years, I am down 20 pounds since the beginning of the year, just through being very, very disciplined with the guidelines).

I can't do it.  I can't give up (fill in the blank).

I completely understand, I really do.  When my first friend gave up grains about ten years ago, I thought she was absolutely insane.  Honestly, I thought she might even have an eating disorder (she doesn't).  She was just way ahead of my understanding of food nutrition and intolerances. And what do you know, five years ago I went grain-free myself, as a way of treating my hypoglycemia (and it worked SO well).  If you are not in a place where you are open to the idea that how you eat completely changes everything about how you feel each day, then maybe now is not the time for you to jump on board.  If you are open to the idea, but you think giving up some of your favorites will be too difficult, you will not be alone.  That is why we work in a group, to give accountability and encourage each other when it feels hard.  And it is not forever.  It is only 28 days.  If you want to go back to wine every single day after that, that is awesome with us!  I also love what the Whole30 says about "hard":

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

So if Whole30 is the gold standard, how is Arbonne different?  And why?

Arbonne is actually a slightly more lenient plan than Whole30, which I think is essential to most people.  The reason why so many people have "failed" Whole30 is because you have to make every ever-loving thing you put in your mouth for 30 days, down to the condiments.  With the Arbonne Clean Eating Challenge, we are majoring in the majors.  No, you may not have bread, but you also don't have to hand cook your ketchup, mayo, and mustard before you eat your homemade burger. Secondly, the Arbonne products that you will get as a part of the plan are HUGE convenience for you.  I always tell people-you can do our entire program without any Arbonne products whatsoever. They are there to help support your goals, and make it simpler.  So, instead of having to get up extra early to cook a hot breakfast, you will have a protein shake.  Instead of trying to suffer through caffeine withdrawal, you can use Fizz Sticks.  And so on.  We have many, many people who continue to follow our program for the long-term, simply because it is so sustainable.  Finally, we also focus very strongly on your gut health.  The research on gut health is absolutely fascinating.  Did you know that it is linked to your immunity, your mental health, and some other pretty major body functions?  If you can improve your gut health for even a short time, you will see measurable benefits.

"But I feel great.  I don't need to change."

Awesome!  That is great, truly!  It is actually fairly rare that an adult likes the way they feel everyday. Most of us are fighting fatigue, headaches, and other pain.  If that is not you, I am SO glad!  That being true, eating a whole foods-based diet is good for anyone.

Also consider that you may have been experiencing certain symptoms for so long that you have stopped noticing them.  Until you remove these things from your diet for a sustained period of time, you will never know if you could feel even better.  My husband and I both thought that we felt pretty good before we did our first Whole30.  But within that four weeks, both of us started to have more energy all day long, we slept more soundly and better, skin issues were gone....the list goes on.  You never know until you try!

Phew!  So that was long, but clean eating is a broad topic.

Do you have questions? Let's talk about it!

Want more information on Arbonne's Clean Eating Program, email me at!

I'll be on Periscope tomorrow talking about label reading to help decide whether a food is "clean" or not. Follow me and join the conversation @ArbonneVPSWenzel. And on Friday stop back by the blog to learn what symptoms clean eating may be able to improve.


  1. I liked that you addressed that some people do feel good, and/or do not need to lose weight, but that taking a second look to think about it could be worth it.

  2. Absolutely! There are tons of reasons why someone may want a change! (In fact, that is what I will be talking about here on Friday). I have coached several people who did not want to lose weight, but who wanted to change how they feel everyday.