Clean eating is a crock of, erm, dirt

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.

6 thoughts on “Clean eating is a crock of, erm, dirt”

  1. It is really confusing, everyone I know who is remotely intetested in their diet is following a different plan and is only too happy to share their “expert” knowledge. I confess I (loosely) follow SW but it works for me because nothing is forbidden which means I can eat a varied diet that works for my family. Eating clean in our household means using half a packet of wetwipes at mealtimes to wipe hands, faces, the table, the walls, (sometimes the ceiling) and the dog!

    • Brilliant – that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Clean eating doesn’t really mean anything at all and just serves to make eating well sound complicated or that you are doing something really bad if you aren’t ‘clean’!

  2. This makes me laugh out loud, Claire!
    ‘Clean eating’, indeed – means nothing useful, only trendy. I don’t do Guilt, either – just watch out for HFCS especially, and skip most of the junk starches (empty carbs).
    Thanks, as always!
    Karen J in Detroit, now!

    • Spot on – you have to do what works for you, not feel bad about when it all goes pear shaped, and enjoy the fact that we have options rather than be forced to worry about everything.
      Hope Detroit is rocking!

  3. Great post Claire.
    I hear a lot about clean eating too. I like the idea of eating the most natural ingredients I can find, and certainly feel better and have more energy when I do that.
    Any labels or food regimes don’t work for me in practice – certainly not for any length of time.

    • Thank you Dielle!
      It sounds as if you’ve got a good handle on eating – doing the best you can, most of the time, definitely gives you energy. And I totally agree – labels and regimes tend to not work in the long term!


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