Everywhere I look, people are talking about ‘clean eating’.
“This chocolate brownie might look naughty, but it’s clean”
“It’s time to start eating clean again”
“How I eat clean on a budget”
Blah blah and blah once more.
It drives me a tiny bit crazy, and I want to explain why you’ll never hear me recommending that you eat clean.
First of all: as a phrase, it’s just rubbish. What does it actually mean? That the food contains nothing that might be considered bad? That it was made in a really clean kitchen? That it was blessed by a nun who had recently washed her hands in mountain spring water?
As far as I can tell, the general consensus is that ‘clean’ means it doesn’t contain processed ingredients, or sugar or fat or other ‘stuff’ which may or may not be good for you. But those things would make it ‘unprocessed’ or ‘free of added sugar’ or ‘low fat’ and not ‘clean’. If you are going to give something a name, you might as well give it a name that actually makes sense, rather than a name which sounds like you just don’t do your washing up properly.
Personally, I believe that clean eating just doesn’t really mean anything.
And even though it doesn’t mean anything, at the same time, there is the hint that the opposite of ‘clean eating’ might be, well, dirty eating. Or mucky eating. Or messy eating. Or, well, whatever the opposite might be.
And whether or not the opposite of clean eating is actually dirty eating, the implication is that if you aren’t eating clean, then you must be eating food which is crappy, and rubbish, and bad for you.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know for a fact that I hate labels, and I also don’t do guilt. No matter what you eat, giving yourself labels about you, or your food being ‘bad’ or ‘not clean’ doesn’t help you in any way at all.
Feeling guilty about your food is a really great way to jump on a downward spiral of eating foods which don’t help you in any way, which then makes you feel bad for being a failure, so you just stop bothering at all, and then eat more and more rubbishy stuff.
Of course, as a nutritionist, I’m not recommending that you eat loads of pap, all day long, every day, and feel deliriously happy about the fact that you are eating nothing useful. But using words which can make you feel guilty about the foods you eat is, in my opinion, definitely not the way to help you take any steps towards eating better.
So quit worrying about whether you should be eating clean – I’m guessing that you don’t eat a bucket of mud every day so you probably don’t need to be overly concerned
If you do want to eat better, remember that eating is supposed to be fun (that’s why we were given tastebuds). Use that as your starting point, and the rest will follow.
Need help with your nutrition? Get in touch and let’s see if I can help.