It's fashionable, it's all over Instagram (18.5 million hashtags), it's the latest label for the fitterati and the fitfluential; so we're probably going to annoy a lot of people now and cause offence. Here goes...
What a load of old rubbish. Now, we're all for eating nutritious food, but calling it clean? As opposed to what, dirty? Immoral? Ok, Ok, it's just a word that is being used to describe a way of eating but the word clean brings up powerful feelings associated with eating. Feelings of good and bad, right and wrong or virtuous and sinful. This is not a good thing.
At best it's confusing because there are lots of conflicting views out there about what constitutes 'clean food', and at worst it's dangerous. We've blogged before about orthorexia, an eating disorder where the person affected becomes obsessed with 'healthy food', and it's no joke.
There are a few things to be wary of with any of these ‘ways of eating’ or ‘lifestyles’:
- The majority of people advocating, selling or promoting them aren’t qualified in nutrition, medicine or anything remotely relevant.
- They can be highly restrictive and are generally totally unsustainable.
- They can become a form of an eating disorder known as orthorexia. It's much easier to hide this kind of disorder, disguising another form of control through food as merely being healthy.
- Foods are demonized and categorized as good or bad, which is far too simplistic and leads to emotional issues with food.
- Food and eating are life’s greatest pleasure, to be enjoyed rather than obsessed over.
- No single diet or way of eating is suitable for everyone. We all have very different digestive systems, gut bacteria, genetics and we all need to adopt a diet that works for us as an individual. For some people, raw food is awful and exacerbates things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome for example.
Can a brownie loaded with dates really be 'good' for you?
You'll also find examples of recipes that are 'clean' but not in any way vaguely healthy or helpful if you're trying to lose weight for example. These kind of diets advocate that you shouldn't count calories, that it's the type of food you're eating not the quantity of calories. To a degree this is true, but you'd have to be exercising like Michael Phelps on a daily basis to burn through the calories in some of the 'clean treats'. One of the golden rules of eating 'clean' is to avoid refined sugar completely. Not bad advice. However, a recipe which includes vast amounts of dates and maple syrup is not going to be doing you, your teeth or your belly fat any favours whatsoever!