Dieting has been a long held obsession in society. From the latest celebrity who lost all their pregnancy weight, to the new burst of secrets as to how you can lose weight fast. But how does ‘clean eating’ fit into all of this?

In 2007, fitness and diet guru Tosca Reno published a book called “The Eat Clean Diet”. Since then celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie all swear by the new lifestyle choice. To ‘eat clean’ means that we provide our bodies with whole foods that are in their natural form. Foods that have not been poked and prodded to last longer or look tastier.

What does it mean to ‘eat clean’?

To eat clean, we should ideally avoid eating refined or processed foods. This includes anything that contains artificial ingredients, that’s grown using chemical fertilizers, pesticides or with hormones and antibiotics. Instead, Tosca recommends that we eat 6 times a day to stimulate our metabolism, combine lean proteins and complex carbs in each meal, and include healthy fats, drink plenty of water and eat local produce.

Clean eating

By cutting out processed foods, clean eating can help us to lose weight as well as maintain a healthy lifestyle. Clean eating encourages us to eat more fruit and vegetables, which means we are eating fewer calories, that have a higher fibre content. Fibre slows down digestion which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

The avoidance of processed, and often high sugar foods, and focusing on eating fresh fruit and vegetables, will also provide you with more energy. Fruit and veggies give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to boost your health and energy. Eliminating the sugar and refined carbs in processed foods will also decrease your blood sugar levels- which is increasingly higher in adults today.

The vitamins and minerals will not only boost your energy, but make you look healthier. As well as healthy fats and proteins for the body, the condition of your hair, skin and nails will all improve.

The clean eating impact on mental health

However, fitness guru Kayla Itsines thinks that clean eating is restrictive. She explains that eating clean is damaging to our mental health as it makes us feel unhappy if we can’t stick to our diets, or make us feel disappointed when we have a slice of chocolate cake. She also explains that there is no such thing as a good or bad food as they all offer us nutrients. Some however, offer more than others.

Diets, particularly those with a focus on clean eating, has led to a rise in the eating disorder orthorexia. Orthorexia is when a person has an unhealthy obsession with healthy food. In fact, 80-90% of eating disorder patients had been on clean eating diets. Nigella Lawson is one of the few chefs who understands that clean eating isn’t always a healthy lifestyle choice but an eating disorder. While, Emmy Gilmour, a clinical director says clean eating encourages people to restrict food groups, deprive themselves and to be self-critical.

A balanced view

To lead a healthy lifestyle, we need to know what our bodies require to be healthy, this often extends beyond our diet and what we eat. We should be conscious of what goes into our meals but not obsessively so. Clean eating can be part of a healthy lifestyle but we should never deprive ourselves of something we fancy or crave for both physical and mental health purposes. Adding fresh fruit and veg to our diets is crucial but we need to also add products of each food group to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

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