Clean Eating refers to eating exclusively unprocessed whole foods in the belief that convenience/processed foods are bad for your health and make you gain weight. They often restrict things like dairy, gluten, grains, additives etc.
Reality. This is a fad diet. There is so much misinformation surrounding it that feeds toxic diet culture, eating disorders such as orthorexia, massive food privilege & unnecessary restriction.
Also, we need to distinguish between health and weight because one does not always lead to the other. People often have goals around both and their belief is that clean eating will get them there.
For weight: calories are primary factor (excluding the Keto diet).
For health: a whole food diet with a balanced macro nutrient intake and fibre content, paired with regular exercise is helpful.
If weight loss is your primary goal, you can achieve it with very little ‘clean eating’. You could also achieve it with ‘clean eating’. The way your health would look at the end is not as straightforward. Health is multi-faceted. How is your mental health? How are your health markers?
So let’s switch to eating for health as our primary goal. If we eat primarily (but NOT exclusively) in the way described above (whole food, balanced macros etc.), this is generally helpful. It aids bodily functions, satiety (and thus, a more controlled calorie intake), gut micro biome etc. It gives your bod the macro & micronutrients it needs to function & FEEL well.
But herein lies the trap of clean eating…
People are tempted to take it too far. They get too specific and strict over what constitutes their healthy diet. This is where your health is truly at risk of being compromised.
Not only are there physical repercussions for being restrictive (nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances etc.), but there is the stress and mental component too, which is huge.
I hate to admit it, but you can eat refined foods and reach your goals! Again, I’d like to emphasise that adopting the 80/20 mindset allows for this. If you incorporate this you’re your lifestyle, you are more likely to walk away with your genuine health intact and a good relationship with food, and your body. This flexibility aids satisfaction and long term adherence too!
Let’s be moderate and lets lead with love. You’ve got this!