Whether the term derived from the 1960s, ‘80s or ‘90s, clean eating is a sweeping movement that is continuing to connect the dots between health, wellness and the environment. What is exactly is clean eating?  The term is a bit subjective and the degree of cleanliness can and will vary among individuals, but the overall theme remains constant – eat whole foods without preservatives and additives, preferably not from a box, bag or carton.

According to an article published on Health.com and CNN.com earlier this year, the natural supermarket Whole Foods experienced amazing growth of over 500 percent in less than a five-year period in the late ‘80s to early ‘90s. That’s an average 125 percent of growth annually.  Consumer demand for organic produce has increased along with their desire for less refined ingredients, less processing and the removal of preservatives and additives.

If you are looking to clean up your diet here are five key steps to removing a little extra unwanted dirt from your diet.

  1. Eat whole foods.

  2. Be informed – Read, know and understand the ingredients.

  3. Go unrefined

  4. DIY – Cut down on your dependability on boxed, bagged, canned and pre-wrapped foods.

  5. Balance, variety and moderation – These are the same diet principles as earlier Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the United States Department of Agriculture. What this step truly means, being in accordance with clean eating, is you need to supply your body with a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins and fats at every meal. The foods at each meal need to be diverse in color, texture and nutrient profile while providing quality nutrients in a sufficient quantity that provides satisfaction and meets nutrient needs.

The good news is you are most likely doing at least a part of this step without even realizing it. Without awareness, this step is easily overlooked, when insufficient time is spent analyzing your current eating habits. If you have not done so already, the best advice I can give is to download a diet-tracking and health app on your smartphone or computer. Commit to tracking at least three days. Analyze your days and/or your average and then determine where you fall in relation to your estimated needs.

Catherine Wallace, MSH, RD, LD/N is a local Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She works as a Clinical Pediatric Dietitian at Wolfson Children’s Hospital and teaches Nutrition and Food Science at the University of North Florida.