If you have been on the internet in the past couple of years, you are bound to have seen the emergence of the latest food trend, ‘clean eating’. Clean eating is generally termed as eating foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. At face value this diet seems to simply be common sense in terms of general eating. Of course an apple is a healthier choice than a packet of crisps when choosing a carbohydrate rich snack for example.
However, the real controversy surrounding clean eating lies in the way in which many proponents of this latest ‘fad’ are arguably taking clean eating to the extreme. Many of the pioneers of clean eating urge their followers to cut out many different foods from their diet to the point where more extreme followers of clean eating suddenly find themselves being raw, vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free, among other things. When the diet is taken to such extreme levels, can clean eating really still be termed as a healthy diet? One such clean eater who takes clean eating to extremes is a popular instagrammer known as @freeleebanana girl who encourages her followers to adopt a habit of eating only raw, vegan food until 4PM as well as an abundance of bananas.
Freelee’s youtube videos rack up a large amount of views, boasting on her most recent vlog, a current view count of 122,897, suggesting that this unusual diet is really rather popular. On her most recent video, Freelee concocts a smoothie out of ten bananas, and talks about a friend of hers engaging in a 100 banana eating contest on her instagram. This type of diet is certainly not very balanced and whilst bananas are a healthy choice, eating them in such extreme quantities does not seem to be indicative of a healthy lifestyle.
Indeed, many are claiming that this obsession with clean eating is causing people to have a very unhealthy relationship with food. ‘Orthorexia’ is the latest eating disorder that has seen a surge of diagnosed cases, causing many medical professionals to be concerned with the effects clean eating has upon its followers. A cousin of more notorious eating disorders such as anorexia, orthorexia is a condition in which its victim has an unhealthy obsession with the food they are eating in pursuit of a healthy diet. Imagery found on many clean eater’s instagram accounts of perfectly decorated smoothie bowls and slim, beautiful, tanned girls living in a world of perpetual summer often makes young girls feel that a similar life is attainable as long as they cut out gluten and avoid refined sugar.
Naturally, when they do give into their cravings, an unhealthy level of guilt and remorse consumes them and heightens anxiety levels about what one is putting into their bodies. Therefore, despite many proponents of the clean eating movement’s best intentions to promote a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle, those who are most vulnerable arguably suffer from a flurry of guilt and disordered attitudes towards their food. Like many ‘fad’ diets in the past, clean eating was bound to experience a degree of backlash, and often it is not entirely unfounded.
Clean eating and orthorexia seem to share quite a strong relationship and many argue that clean eating is expensive, somewhat unattainable for an average busy lifestyle, and too restrictive. However, that is not to say that clean eating offers no benefits and that the proponents of clean eating do not have their followers best interests at heart, with Deliciously Ella often offering wisdom for a healthier body and mind alongside recipe inspiration. Much like most diets, moderation appears to be key. I believe clean eating, to begin with at least, was not a fad diet per se, but I do believe that guzzling 10 bananas at a time is a fad and is fast becoming synonymous with the clean eating movement.
Therefore I offer the advice to by all means try to eat healthier, but don’t let it affect your enjoyment of treats every so often either. Don’t get too invested in the concept of clean eating – having been very enamoured with the diet not so long ago myself, fearing white carbs does nothing for you, believe me! Live life in the pursuit of health and happiness, but try not to get too attached to any particular diet – the latest fad is probably set to introduce itself to the world in a matter of moments, anyway!