Why Do We Say We “Eat Clean” Instead of We Eat Healthy?

When did we start saying we are eating “clean” instead of eating healthy?

I never really thought about the words we use until all of a sudden it seemed like “clean eating” was everywhere. There were clean eating meal plans and apps and magazine and articles for and against. (Against clean eating? I know, that’s what I said too, but apparently the term can sound judgmental or exceedingly restrictive to some folks.) Mostly, I think we didn’t notice the trend because many of us have become used to being in the forefront of various fitness and nutritional movements.

Like CrossFit. I started doing CrossFit in 2005. Back then, not many people were doing it or had even heard about it. Having a “CrossFit event” meant that you found two other guys crazy enough to do the workouts and you all met at your garage and did some gnarly workout that scared the piss out of your neighbors. Now? There are all sorts of events featuring CrossFit movements, and thousands of people compete in and watch those events.

Same thing with nutrition. If you had told somebody in 1999 that you ate “Paleo” they might have looked at you very strangely. The term “Paleo diet” was in use since the 1970’s but it didn’t really catch on until Loren Cordain published his book “The Paleo Diet” in 2002. And then somewhere along the way, Paleo and “clean” became almost interchangeable, because eating real food made so much sense that what we called it wasn’t as important as the fact that we did it.

And that’s what it comes down to, right? Unless you do the action, it doesn’t really matter what you call that action. So call it clean eating, call it the Paleo diet, call it eating real food. We don’t care what you call it as much as we care that you do it. Eating healthy, real food will help you perform better and live a longer, healthier life. Call it what you want, but just eat the right foods, okay? We’ll be doing the same. See you at the gym.

Yours in health (or “clean eating”),


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