Clean is for underwear, not food.
A thought for public consideration:
The words “eat clean” don’t actually mean anything.
Like, really, nothing.
I have heard the following foods described as both dirty and clean: dairy, poultry, whole grains, fruits, nuts, nut butters, whole wheat pasta noodles, beans, smoothies, certain oils. It is annoyingly confusing for the general public to have conflicting theories on these foods- that’s just a given- but my real issue is that I actually believe that the whole idea of food cleanliness pushes people to strive for further and further food purity, which can end in a litany of pointless, boring, functionless restrictions.
Let me tell you about my 20’s. My experience was this:
I started out vegan and gluten-free because that’s what works for me both ethics wise and digestion wise. No regrets about either of those decisions.
I begin to cut back on snacking, as I had heard it prevented proper digestion.
Obviously processed and packaged foods went next, because I was trying to be healthy and I didn’t believe those were a part of a healthful diet.
I heard that soy was actually very dangerous, and I began to steer clear of it.
I started to believe that blending fruits turned nature’s bounty into candy, and that it was akin to mainlining sugar. Smoothies were out.
Whole grains became anti-nutrient rich vitamin absorption blockers.
Beans started to be considered poison.
Nuts had too many Omega 6’s, not enough Omega 3’s.
Kale caused hypothyroidism.
and- holy shit- suddenly I couldn’t eat anything. Funny how that works out.
As a person who was generally interested in nutrition, these theories flooded me, via blog posts (without citation), hash tagged pictures (#eatcleanorgohome, amiright?), magazine articles, billboards, TV commercials. There is a low hum of nutrition advice that permeates our entire culture, and if one is susceptible to suggestion or intrigue around different theories it can become very very confusing to navigate the simple act of putting some nourishing shit in our mouths.
This is not okay with me.
“Eat clean” implies judgement. It implies that other people who don’t eat this same way are doing it wrong, are ruining their health, are making poor decisions. How rude is that!?
Something else for consideration:
Many, many people are in recovery from eating disorders.
For me, at the height of my anorexia, the “nutrient” I was most deficient in was calories. I was doing the best I could to recover, but was simultaneously obsessed with eating clean, and guess what? It was really difficult to restore weight.
The smartest thing I could have done at that time was eat a damn cookie. That is literally the choice that would have been for my highest good, but what happened for me when I tried? A negative thought loop. An echo of “that cookie is ruining your health” splashing around in my brain. Guilt. Shame.
I believe that we all have a responsibility to one another to try to get rid of the culture of guilt and shame around food. Telling the phrase “eat clean” to fuck right off is a huge part of that.
Yes, I still try to eat in a way that my experience and my actual education (like not internet articles) has taught me is healthful. I get down with some vegetables. But I also get down with a processed snack now and again, because for me, the worst thing I can do for my general health is be so obsessed with eating that I cannot enjoy an indulgence.
We can all give ourselves a lot more credit and individual consideration than just going by the guidelines “eat clean”. We’re smarter than that!
Please join me in hashtagging #cleanisforunderwearnotfood on your delicious food pics, because holy shit. I think we can agree that dirty drawers are no fun, but eating is about health, lifestyle and, every once in awhile, pleasure!
No shame or guilt about it.