Read this before you do...
Starting a clean eating diet?
With promises of increased energy, clearer complexion, weight loss and a general improvement in health, I can understand why.
And let's not forget the advocates of a clean lifestyle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry and Jessica Alba.
I mean, who wouldn't want to look like them.
The revolution has certainly soared in popularity over recent years.
So, if you've bought the books, tried the recipes, or just thinking about starting a clean eating diet, read this before you go any further....
Starting a Clean Eating Diet: Why is it so Popular?
On the face of it clean eating seems to promote a diet full of home cooked meals with lots of vegetables. Healthy food. This in itself is not ground breaking. And nor are the promised benefits.
But let’s be honest, would clean eating have risen to such fame if it was just about vegetables and looking good? Probably not.
So, why has it taken such a hold of the general population?
I think the reason is much deeper rooted.
Everyday we are bombarded with news headlines about diets, food and healthy living. One minute a food is a miracle. It will cure all our ills. And then, no wait, it’s going to give you cancer.
We hear about popular fast food chains using meat that is unfit for human consumption and unless chemicals are used to ‘clean’ it. And well-known supermarkets using whatever meat it feels like and not telling us.
We’re all scared.
We don’t know who to trust with our food. With what we put in our bodies. With what we feed our children.
‘Clean’ eating has been the saviour. The guiding light. It’s basically told us, ‘eat this and you’ll be safe’.
It’s allowed us to take back control.
So, what could be my problem? Well, I don’t think it clears up confusion. I think it adds to it.
Starting a Clean Eating Diet: What is it all about?
The problem with clean eating, well one of the problems anyway, is that it is so ambiguous. And because of that different advocates take it to different levels.
I once heard it described as akin to taking drugs.
You start on the ‘small’ stuff. And gradually move onto harder and harder drugs, until the next thing you know you’re robbing houses to get money to feed your heroine habit.
I think that’s a little harsh. But I can see the link.
It goes something like this…
You start to hand make everything you eat so you know exactly what is going into it.
Great. That’s amazing.
"Did you know they pump animals full of hormones and antibiotics?"
Ok, so I’m going to cut out meat.
Become a vegetarian.
"If the animals are pumped with hormones that will transmit to milk and other animal products."
Ok, so I’m going to cut out all foods that are related to animals.
Become a vegan.
"Cooking vegetables can deplete their nutrients. And some methods of cooking are really bad for your health. As for sugar and gluten, well, they are just evil."
Ok, that’s it… I’m going raw.
That’s not an exaggeration. That is the actual story of a lady who asked for my help because, despite her vegan, gluten and diary free, raw diet, she still couldn’t lose weight and was tired all of time.
It’s one thing if you are thriving on that way of living. But, most people really don’t. And, to top that, they have an unhealthy obsession with sticking to their ‘clean’ diet.
Starting a Clean Eating Diet: Why I'm not a fan
It’s this obsession that really worries me.
An unhealthy obsession with food is an eating disorder. Whether that food is deemed as good for you or not.
And what is this obsession rooted in? Ambiguity. A need to protect yourself. To protect your family.
But the thing is, you can’t protect yourself from everything.
Yes, you might eat something that later turns out to be harmful. You may eat something that turns out to be different than what you thought it was. You may get hit by a bus walking down the street.
You can’t protect yourself from everything.
All you can do is make the best decision based on the information you have available at the time. You can’t foresee the future. You can’t plan for every eventuality.
The food you eat shouldn’t be a source of guilt, shame or worry.
Food is life.
You have to eat to live. To have energy to do things. To help your body grow and sparkle.
So, if you have to do it, you may as well enjoy it.
Have a take away when you really can’t be bothered to cook. Have that bit of chocolate you’ve been craving for weeks. Have that glass of wine when you’re out with the girls.
Those in themselves are not going to kill you.
If you’re eating mainly home prepared, home cooked meals, that have a good balance of vegetables, protein and fat. If you have variety in your diet, a little bit of what you fancy is not going to hurt you.
It will probably be really good for you.
Starting a Clean Eating Diet: Get Off That Lifestyle
The main thing to remember with your diet, and lifestyle, is what works for you and not what is clean eating.
Developing a healthy diet isn’t about labelling a food clean or dirty, good or bad. Developing a healthy diet is about discovering what foods you actually enjoy. Discovering what foods make you feel really good.
Have all of those in moderation with a sprinkling of foods that make you feel crappy, if you really love them. There is room for all food in a healthy, balanced diet.
Above all, you decide what to eat.
You’re eating your diet, your way.
Concerned about eating disorders?
There’s no getting around it, clean eating has seen a huge link to eating disorders. Bulimia, anorexia and othroxiea.
If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, you need to get some professional help. Some appropriate counselling.
Here are some great places to start…
Beat - The UK's Eating Disorder Charity