I recently read a few articles about clean eating. This is one of those topics that I feel very strongly about, a couple of people very close to me have struggled with eating disorders for a very long time, and I also have had issues with being anemic and iron deficient for pretty much the majority of my life, and being a chicken-only indulgent vegetarian since I was only young. In recent years, and especially since having a baby, I have really struggled with my weight, and being healthy.
Since the whole ‘clean eating’ trend came around, I have always been very critical about the hype concerning the trend and it’s not something I would ever follow myself. The diet itself has always seemed very restrictive and lacking in basic nutrition that we, as humans, need to function. For instance, and I know from hearing things from clean eaters in my life and seeing enough clean eaters on social media, that the majority of the lifestyle seems to consist of a salad (with no dressing), and vegetables.
‘Clean eating’ often means cutting out vital nutrients that we need to feed our bodies, such as protein, carbohydrates, fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, the list goes on. It is impossible to get your body all of the nutrients and vitamins it needs through an extremely restricted diet. And this can lead to so many problems, including but not limited to, iron deficiency, extreme weight lose, fatigue, and bone health.
A certain someone, let’s call them Alex, in my life follows the clean eating trend extremely religiously. I’ve often been around Alex, for a long period of time, and been astounded as to how little they really do eat. Is a handful of steamed veggies for dinner enough to sustain us? Is some avocado on gluten free toast without butter enough to sustain us? Is a couple of almonds enough to sustain us?
Ever since we have been young, it has been drilled into us that the key to having a healthy body and lifestyle is through a balanced and healthy diet. Is a few dried leaves and a kale smoothie healthy for us in the long run?
Unsurprisingly (and using Alex as an example) a number of health issues have arose. Chronic fatigue and lack of energy and focus, anemia and a vitamin D deficiency, and depression to name a few. But still, clean eating itself is never to blame.
The part that really gets to me, is that if Alex, for example, did not label such a diet as ‘clean eating’, would they be categorised as having an eating disorder? Where is the line between ‘clean eating’ and an eating disorder? And by drawing that line, would the glorification of ‘clean eating’ end?