1. There's no clear definition
Wouldn't it be so much easier if 'eating clean' was as simple as just washing your food thoroughly before you ate it? That's the problem though - its definition isn't clearly defined. And, as always, when things are left to subjective licence, it's often those with the biggest social media following and loudest voice (and potentially ego) that drive its direction.
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2. It really is just another fad diet
If we base it off the overly-restrictive-all-or-nothing-eat-that-and-you-will-die approach then it 100 per cent is a fad diet. Yes, it is.
Shut up, it is.
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3. People think it's the only way to get lean
It really isn't. I'm sorry to burst your clean eating organic quinoa bubble, but you could eat McDonald's every day and still lose weight. 'Flexible dieting' and 'IIFYM' (If It Fits Your Macros) strategies have proven this.
Because body composition is about two things when it comes to your nutrition:
1. Total calorie consumption - how many calories you consume under/over your BMR (basal metabolic rate)
2. Macronutrient intake - how your daily calories are comprised (ie how much protein, carbohydrates and fat)
Note: It's important to remember that I don't recommend eating the majority of your daily caloric intake from nutrient void foods as I can almost certainly guarantee that it will make you feel (and function), like s**t. I was merely stating that it's not the only way.
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4. It's often based on 'chick-science'
It's like broscience, but more organic. What I mean is that some of the statements that are being made are often based off misconceptions and ideas of questionable scientific credibility, then passed around through the interweb as if factually true.
We've basically just updated the age-old game of Chinese Whispers to what I like to call 'Wellness Whispers' - a game in which many facts are left unsaid/omitted.
I'm not saying don't listen - I'm merely hoping that you'll begin to ask "why?". Question everything and everyone, including yourself. Self-education is paramount to your health.
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5. It's full of preachers
The clean eating arena is chock full of self-righteous individuals who seem to live through 'love and light' yet are the fastest to draw a gun on someone who doesn't believe what they do. Sure, we should all have a set of principles and values - especially when it comes to the betterment of our health. But as I mentioned above, everyone has advice to give, and sure - it's important to listen, just be open to everything (or at least more things), and attached to nothing.
The best advice I can give you is to simply start being more mindful of your body. Because the more you really listen, the more you'll really learn. Find your own long-term strategy for your health. So to the all the preachers out there - just because it worked for you, doesn't mean it's right for everyone. Put the guns down and help people find their own way.
6. The 'good' or 'bad' mentality
Good or bad, black or white, clean or dirty. I'm sorry, but life isn't made up solely of one or the other - it's made up of every shade in between. This approach only serves to further fuel the anxious battle between what is actually good for us, and what has just been scapegoated as being bad.
So I urge you to answer these questions with a yes or no: is dairy good or bad for you? is gluten good or bad for you? is sugar good or bad for you? Now answer"why?" for each of your repsonses. Now, were your answers based on personal experience or simply because you have just accepted what you've been told? All I'm saying is listen and learn (from your own body!)
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7. It can often make you fat. Like, really fat
Seriously, this is sad (but funny). Clean eating is often given the title of 'guilt-free living' without taking into account that even 'healthy calories' still count towards changing the shape of your body.
Nuts, butter, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado are all great for your health, however they are calorie dense foods that can quickly take your body towards the very same term they are touted as being 'A Healthy Fat'.
Buyer beware: Don't get fooled by the 'guilt free treat' marketing. They're just like anything else, if you're not eating mindfully and with moderation you'll quickly take on the same shape as the bliss balls you've been eating.
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8. It's often unhealthy
I've seen this develop more and more in people over the past five years. That is, an all or nothing relationship with food that becomes so destructive that it causes more damage to your psychology than the organic price tag to your wallet.
It's an approach that even earned itself a name in 1997 when general physician Steve Bratman named it orthorexia nervosa, defined as, "an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food."
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Come on people, educate yourselves and begin to listen to the beat of your own belly. Your body, your life, your responsibility!
For those that are interested, my personal strategy is to be as consistent as possible with the 80/20 rule. A rule that simple means that 80 per cent of the time I aim to eat wholefoods from quality sources, with the remaining 20 per cent allowing me to enjoy (without any guilt, I might add) chocolate, wine and ice-cream. Yum!