I really do not like the term ‘clean eating’!
Of course, it is not a bad thing to want to eat less processed foods.
Of course, we understand that choosing foods lower in calories and higher in nutrients makes sense.
However, there are plenty of foods that have been processed that are still low in calories and high in nutrients.
Just because a food has been processed does not mean it is bad.
No food, in and of itself, will make us ill, unhealthy or gain weight.
We could happily have a burger from McDonald’s every day without suffering any negative consequences;
As long as we pay attention to our overall calorie intake, based on our exercise levels and goals,
as long as we eat a good variety of fruit and vegetables, lean protein and other nutrient dense foods,
we will be fine.
The clean eating mindset can lead to borderline eating disorders;
Orthorexia – an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating – is on the rise!
Some of the warning signs and symptoms*:
- Compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels
- An increase in concern about the health of ingredients
- Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all diary, all meat or all animal products)
- An inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’
- Unusual interest in the health of what others are eating
- Spending hours per day thinking about what food might be served at upcoming events
- Showing high levels of distress when ‘safe’ or ‘healthy’ foods aren’t available
- Obsessive following of food and ‘healthy lifestyle’ blogs on Twitter and Instagram
- Body image concerns may or may not be present.
*taken from the website www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
I believe we really need to challenge this mindset.
I remember when I was deep into the paleo/clean eating mindset,
I would have real anxiety about going to social events or going on holiday.
Finding ‘nothing I could eat’ I would either be hungry and miserable or go completely off the rails,
I have piled on 2 or 3kg in a week’s holiday, telling myself that there was really no alternative if I wanted to enjoy the holiday!
We need to look at the messages we are telling ourselves.
Challenge the belief that eating ‘clean’ is better and more ‘healthy’
It is not true.
It also actually doesn’t make sense.
Different people have different ideas about what eating clean even means:
- The paleo crowd think you have to cut out all processed food (unless it has been approved – which actually makes it a nonsense)
- Vegan ‘clean eaters’ cut out all animal products of course – along with many processed foods
- Carnivore ‘clean eaters’ are almost the opposite
- Body building ‘clean eaters’ cut out most carbs unless it’s rice or rice cakes
Therefore what ‘eating clean’ actually means depends on your identity as well.
We really need to challenge the idea that any food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’
The supplements shop I used to work in had a motto;
Eat Clean, Train Dirty.
This came from a very good place of course,
encouraging people to look at their exercise and nutrition,
but when you dig into the weeds around the idea of ‘clean eating’
you find that people get very obsessed.
We can end up in a really bad position, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Missing out on a healthy, happy, balanced life because of a crippling obsession with what we are eating.
Let’s bring the whole ‘clean eating’ idea down from that pedestal.
I have written another blog with more detail on this subject, just follow this link;