Thursday, 2 June 2016

A Few Things I Have To Say About Clean Eating

Recently, I've noticed clean eating has been getting a lot of flack, and I am delighted. I'd known about clean eating for a while and it's a diet I'd always aspired to have. When I get healthy, I told myself, this is how I'll eat. Clean eating involves cutting down on processed food and eating more 'raw,' 'natural' products. Refined sugar is banned, meat is banned, dairy is banned, gluten is banned. Seems a bit restrictive doesn't it?

All the food they eat is super healthy, and words like 'nourishing' and 'nutritious' are flung around by the so called 'wellness gurus' who preach about the abundant benefits their diet provides those who follow it with. Avocados are used as substitutes for butter in cakes and spiralized courgette in place of spaghetti. It's easy to be fooled into thinking that by following this lifestyle you'll be transformed into a health goddess. I certainly was- I believed that if I could find a way to follow this diet as closely as I could (budget and time permitting) my eczema would disappear (in fact, my skin in general would clear up and develop an ethereal glow), my hair become glossy, I'd develop an amazing body, my mind would become less foggy and I'd be able to think with renewed clarity.

I realised, however, that this sort of lifestyle would not be realistic for me. I could barely cook (and certainly not well enough to make vegetables taste amazing. This has now changed) and I couldn't afford the expensive products required to uphold the lifestyle. I also became sceptical of just how little the 'wellness gurus' allowed themselves to eat. No carbs? No dairy? No meat? How do you get by on so little? I knew I couldn't do it; I'd miss normal food too much.

That's why I'm so happy to see articles popping up depicting the unhealthy side to clean eating. I love the fact that they discuss how unhealthy it is to cut out food groups when it's not necessary, and the fact that this can also have a detrimental effect on your well being. I love that they stress the importance of a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, dairy and fat, because we need all of these to be healthy. It makes me feel so much more comfortable about my own diet- when I'd started to embark on a healthier lifestyle I'd felt like I was still unhealthy and that I was doing something wrong by including carbohydrates and dairy products in my diet. These articles confirm everything I'd known since I was little, everything I'd ever been taught. It's made me feel much more satisfied with my lifestyle, and more comfortable about what I eat.

There are other issues with clean eating, some I've read about and some I've detected myself. I remember reading about how even using the word 'clean' to describe the diet is somewhat problematic as it attaches morals to food and implies that all other food is 'dirty' and those who eat it are, by default, dirty themselves. Food is just food. No one food product is better than another because it has a higher nutritional value, and all food serves its purpose in context. One thing I picked up pretty swiftly was the cost of these ingredients- they're not exactly affordable for the average person. A little research into the backgrounds of some of these 'wellness gurus' lead to the discovery that they aren't exactly poor. For example, Ella Mills (aka Deliciously Ella), the poster girl for clean eating who's seen ferocious success promoting her clean, vegan diet, is the daughter of the heir to Sainsbury's and an MP. According to Google, her parents are worth £40 million. When you have that much money to play with it's more than possible to allow expensive items that would be considered luxuries for the majority to become everyday staples. I suppose that doesn't really matter, since she, and others like her, are still wildly successful.

I'll be the first to emphasise the fact that I'm no nutritionist but, then again, neither are most of them which, to me, makes a lot of what they promote pretty questionable. The most important thing is that what you put in your body makes you happy and healthy, and I respect their decision to eat how they want. However, to act as if their diet is the only way you can be healthy (at least this is how I've interpreted it) is wrong, and I personally feel that they should promote the idea that all food is healthy and that a balanced diet is important. This is a topic that I don't feel I'm done discussing, so expect more posts on clean eating from me!

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