I just had to bash out a quick blog on this as it’s been on my mind for a few days. It’s safe to say, I spend a fair bit of time on Instagram – I just love perusing the pictures from my friends and those with common interests. Lately I’ve discovered the term ‘clean eating’ has infiltrated my newsfeed on more than one occasion and it peaked my interest. Just what is this #cleaneating diet all about?
After some research I have arrived at the conclusion that there are several definitions and interpretations for the concept, most of which point to the general idea that eating clean is eating food in as close to its original state as possible. This, in theory, I agree with. Where I worry is when I start hearing foods referenced as clean or dirty. Dirty as far as I can tell originated as a term to describe fresh food that had high instances of pesticide treatment. To avoid the dirty-factor, you need to make sure wherever possible you buy organic. This has evolved into a term to describe any food that clean eaters define as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘bad’. For example, I’ve seen dirty applied to a hamburger or fried rice (both of which can be prepared quite healthily). I worry that applying such a negative word to what is often nutritious food could result in some misconceptions about what is healthy and what is not. There is an implication that if you stick to eating clean, you will be healthy and you will loose weight. It’s an over-simplification that could be dangerous.
Another trend is an increased number of before & after images of the clean eater’s bodies demonstrating how their commitment to this diet has resulted in significant weight-loss. From my observations, this dedication to showing and sharing weight-loss publicly & in a forum unmoderated by professionals seems to sometimes swing between supportive and obsessive. I worry that there are people jumping on the clean eating bandwagon because they see others doing it but don’t fully understand the concept and how it works. One clean eater with 66k followers on Instagram recently discovered that her skinny (although she’d call them strong) pics were being used as thinspiration for pro-anorexics. She expressed her disappointment and sadness that this was the case however she is actively and publicly promoting a weight target that is below healthy for her height.
I do want to end this on a positive note though because the principle of eating clean (the idea of it more so than the diet) works for me. I embrace the idea of buying fresh produce, making food from scratch and having a thorough understanding of every ingredient that goes into a dish. My kind of ‘dirty’ is food that has unknown origins, that has ingredients I can’t pronounce or recognise or is unethical.