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Why the clean eating movement is destroying our perspective on healthy eating

Upon reading the title you might think I’m being harsh, but hear me out. Hashtags for eating ‘clean’  have taken social media, the internet and quite frankly, the daily food choices of fitness fanatics and healthy eaters by storm. If a food item isn’t ‘clean’ it’s considered a cheat meal, or worse, banned from the diet for life! This obsession of classifying foods into good vs bad is creating a culture of guilt and trepidation when it comes to eating, which eventually leads to eating disorders and other forms of disordered eating! Food is tasty, interesting, powerful and nourishing. Let’s appreciate it for what it is and not let the ‘clean eating’ movement take away our happiness!

By Jana du Plessis


Seeing food items labelled in the supermarkets as ‘skinny’, ‘low-fat’ or by any other health-related term, always makes me cringe. When you turn those packages around, the ingredient list will still read like it’s Greek. Then I walk past the apples, pumpkins and baby marrows and there’s no indication of those being high in nutrients, full of fibre and all natural. So why do these so-called ‘health-foods’ need all the publicity?


I have a food philosophy that makes me strive to eat food as close to their natural state as possible with the fewest ingredients possible. Say I’m feeling like hot chocolate, I’ll make a hot cacao with honey and milk – three ingredients and just as decadent! There’s no need for funky powders, stabilisers and flavourants when you can turn to nature’s bounty of goodness. Onions, beetroot, carrots and tomatoes add wonderful, natural sweetness to home-made chutneys and sauces instead of relying on pre-packaged concoctions. And playing with different heat applications like steaming, roasting, and scorching results in an array of new textures and tastes to be explored.


If you are worried about ‘clean eating’ and the way the food you ingest will affect your body, ask yourself where the food comes from. Is it from a factory-produced tin and filled with things you don’t recognise? Or is it from a farm, occurs in nature and you can decide on what to add to it? If you choose that ‘skinny’ item, you cannot guarantee how the ingredients will be perceived by your body, but by choosing fresh produce you can rest assured that you will be fuelling your body with vitamins, minerals and all-around nourishment.


Is it really worth it to question whether orange sweet potatoes or white sweet potatoes have more kilojoules? Or is it more important to ask if that packaged good will provide you with the same nutritional benefits as the piece of fruit you’re having? It’s not about eating ‘clean’ or eating ‘dirty’. It’s about enjoying how food can nourish your body and soul, and choosing the life in plants and protein to boost your daily living to the best of its ability. Plus, knowing that nourishment trumps calories when it comes to supporting your body will free you totally from food guilt..

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