I’m going to out on my best jodhpurs and saddle up for this week’s high horse – clean eating.
It’s the new ‘thing’ – search Instagram and Twitter and there you will be confronted with the smiling faces of women who look as if they’ve ticked all the boxes on the socially acceptable form, in yoga poses, or telling you what they had for dinner. They add hashtags #cleaneating and #clean #nourishing to their artistically shot, colourful photos and then make sure they tell us just how freaking delicious their kale and pumpkin seed bake was, or how much nutrition they get from their frogspawn – sorry – chia seed pudding.
Eating clean is just a new way to make us mere mortals feel like shit about eating doughnuts. People who eat clean like to tell us all about how colourful their meals are, and explain in great detail why they don’t eat grains, dairy, sugar, caffeine and often meat too. They say it’s because they want to feel healthy and usually try and back their dietary restriction decisions up with a bit of science stuff that scares people into thinking that if they eat anything that once mooed, came from an animal that once mooed, or is an ingredient for a doughnut, they will die of horrible really soon.
There are so many cookbooks available now that have jumped on the clean eating bandwagon. The poster girl for ‘cut everything out of your diet that makes it interesting’ is Ella Woodward, of Deliciously Ella, who claims that she cured herself of a debilitating illness by swapping Haribo and Nutella for sweet potato brownies and kale smoothies. I’m sure that if her diet really did consist of sugar with extra sugar, she probably wasn’t doing her health any favours, and eating a more nutritious, varied diet will have done her the world of good. But her book is the Amazon #1 best seller of 2015 and you know what, we don’t all have diseases that make us too tired to do anything. Let’s face it, most of the people who bought her recipe book will have bought it because Ella is bloody gorgeous and they think that by eating raw vegan pancakes and avoiding cheese they will LOOK like her.
Clean eating is another diet with a tad of eating disorder chic mixed in for good measure. Some of the #cleaneating aficionados on Instagram have already admitted they are suffering from eating disorders and ‘orthorexia’ is now a thing.
It doesn’t help when people like Natasha Corrett say things to justify their extreme diets like, “the body can’t get cancer in an alkaline state; cancer creates disease in the body through acidity,” to scare us into cutting out dairy, wheat and other acid-forming foods, but nutritionists like Ian Marber, the Food Doctor, think that’s absolute rubbish; he told the Daily Mail, “the idea that you can realign the pH levels in your body simply by eating is completely absurd.”
So, will I be eating clean? Well, I wash my broccoli, does that count?
There’s a place for eating more fruit and veggies and so perhaps the colourful salads and bakes displayed on Ella Woodward’s pages or 1001 healthy eating blogs do have their uses. But I refuse to be made to feel guilty about a bacon sandwich or a cheesy pizza, and I’m not buying into clean eating as a way of life – to me it’s just another fad diet.