When was the last time you labeled a food as “good” or “bad”? How about “clean”?
The challenges of having a healthy relationship with food stem from the moral labels our modern society places on eating. It’s time to stop shaming ourselves for consuming the very thing that nourishes our bodies.
Does eating food make you “good” or “bad”?
What you eat does not make you “good” or “bad” nor does it reflect your character or value as a human being.
- When you eat roasted vegetables, are you “good”? No, you are simply a person who ate roasted vegetables?
- Does eating a piece of cake make you “bad”? No, again, you are simply a person who ate a piece of cake.
- If you eat a cookie at an office party (definitely not included in the “clean eating” protocol), are you deemed dirty? Again, you are a person who caught a whiff of that delicious nugget of cocoa wrapped in a blanket of golden deliciousness.
The rise of clean-eating
The first well-known version of “clean-eating” started in 2007 when a Canadian fitness model published the book called The Eat-Clean Diet. The author described how she lost 75 pounds by avoiding over-refined and processed foods, especially white flour and sugar. The author emphasized the consumption of lean proteins and vegetables. She presented this diet as a holistic way of living.
Soon after, a former cardiologist from Uruguay published a book about a 21-day cleanse, after receiving praise by Gwyneth Paltrow on her Goop website (red flag?). This cleanse was extremely strict requiring several weeks of complete exclusion of caffeine, alcohol, dairy and eggs, sugar, all vegetables in the “nightshade family” (tomatoes, aubergines and so on), red meat, and other foods.
To this day, “clean-eating” is not clearly defined, however, it generally implies eating more whole foods, fruits and vegetables, and unrefined unprocessed foods. That’s great right? I mean, we all need to eat more fruits and vegetables!
When you look more closely at the messages “clean-eating” promotes, you must have a tinge of worry in your mind.
This “diet” heavily revolves around restrictive eating patterns with the exclusion of foods that are deemed unhealthy or not-clean. This includes sugar, dairy, and foods containing gluten. In fact, you may even go far as to say that “clean-eating” has evolved into only consuming nicely packaged foods at upscale grocery stores, making it unattainable for the majority of the population.
In addition, “clean-eating” implies a lifestyle. It implies that those who don’t (or can’t afford to) eat “clean” are unhealthy or lazy.
Does that mean those people are dirty?
One step too far with “clean eating”
When you look at diets at face value, it is all about marketing and selling a product. Whether it is a service, food product, cookbook, or equipment, the basis for all diets is sales (aka money). And with any diet (restrictive practices), “clean eating” can lead to disordered eating patterns.
An unhealthy obsession with clean or healthy eating is known as “orthorexia.” Eating food that isn’t considered “pure” or “clean”, causes an extreme amount of anxiety and self-loathing for people with orthorexia.
Hi, this is food.
It is possible to look at food as just that, food. Food as nourishment and fuel that our body requires to sustain life. And the best part? It doesn’t hold moral value.
In fact, we have the power to make food choices based on 1) wanting to nourish our bodies 2) our economic availability and 3) our taste preferences. And we can make such choices and continue to be charismatic, intelligent, funny, kind, loving, and a f*cking awesome person.
Looking for help to create positive messages around food and body image to your daughter? The POW! Girls Running Team starts June 15th and offers girls a nuturing environment to explore self and body trust, food as fuel, and the joy and excitement with moving your body and playing outside. Contact us for more information!