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Is ‘Clean Eating’ Healthy, Or Just Another Marketing Gimmick?

I just read an article about The problem with the term ‘clean eating’, and the first paragraph was heartbreaking to read:

“When I was about 10, I was at a party, my friends and I sitting cross-legged on the living room carpet watching the birthday girl’s mom cut the cake. As she passed out slices, she announced to us all, “None for Julie, because she’s too fat.” It was my first public shaming (and far from my last). I sat awkwardly as my friends ate their cake in silence, glancing over at me with confused pity as I tried hard not to cry.” – Julie Van Rosendaal

She writes that experiences like these have caused here to spend a lot of physical and emotional energy on trying to keep her body at a socially acceptable size.

She continues to write that the diet culture has changed since she tried Weight Watchers in the eighties and that calorie counting is no longer the primary activity.

Now the focus is on being healthy and strong, and a big trend is clean eating.

The problem she experiences with clean eating is the guilt and shame of eating too many calories. Now that’s shifted to feeling guilt and shame for eating unhealthy and ‘dirty’ food:  

“Fresh fruit and vegetables are righteous, while desserts, snacks, and sweets are sinful, guilty pleasures.”

What Does Clean Eating Really Mean?

Clean eating is often associated with words like detox, cleanse, natural, healthy, back to basic, paleo, vegetarianism and veganism, and the list goes on.

I would say that clean eating, at its core, means that you focus on eating whole food (fruits, vegetables, nuts), lean proteins, healthy fats, and eliminate highly processed food.

There are plenty of reasons why people choose to promote clean eating.

Some do it for environmental reasons. Eating a plant-rich diet requires fewer resources to gather and process. Plus, it leaves a smaller footprint on the planet.

Some do it for animal rights. They’re against how the meat industry treats animals and refuse to put money into that industry.

Others do it for health reasons. They feel great when they are eating clean food.

Some even eat clean because it’s “trendy”. Their favorite social media influencers are endorsing ‘clean eating’, so they want to do it too (the #cleaneating has currently over 44 million posts on Instagram).

Pictures of deliciously prepared clean food on Instagram does look good…

Is WildFit About Clean Eating?

The answer is both yes and no.

Every species on earth has a specific diet.

Lions eat meat from animals like zebras, giraffes, buffalos (amongst others). A blue whale eats a large amount of krill everyday.

Humans have a diet as well.

Our focus at WildFit is not whether or not the food is clean, but it’s how close the food is to the natural human diet.

If we look at the history of Sapiens (human history), we have been eating a wide variety of plant-based food and lean meat. “Eating clean” is an essential part of the human diet. Therefore it’s an essential part of WildFit.

Eating clean gives you a clue to what is healthy, but it can’t be used to determine if something is healthy or not. That is determined by our DNA.

Does WildFit believe that you should eat the most organic and cleanest food you can find and afford? Yes.

But, no matter how ethically a cow is raised, we don’t recommend drinking milk, no matter how “clean” it is. Why? Because dairy milk has not been a significant factor for shaping our DNA.

As blue whales thrive on eating krill, humans thrive on eating the human diet.

Every species on earth has a diet, and the further away they deviate from it, the sicker and weaker they become. The same goes for humans.

WildFit is not supporting clean eating for the sake of eating clean food. We’re supporting the human diet.

Eating Healthy Without Shame And Guilt

Most people know what they should eat more of and what they should eat less of.

So the question becomes: If you want to eat healthier and you know what’s healthy, why is it so hard to follow through?

Part of it is that sugar is addictive and it stimulates you to eat more than you need. Also it doesn’t help that temptations are everywhere.

You’re not eating because you’re hungry, you’re eating because you want to feel something.

Eating healthy is not only about food, It’s about understanding your emotional response to food. Especially those emotions that trigger you to eat something when you really don’t need to.

In the end, it’s about creating a lifestyle that you want to live. How do you want to feel physically, mentally and emotionally? From there, you figure out what needs to happen in order to make it happen.

Remember. When you’re scrolling through all the pictures of influencers on Instagram, they’re only showing their best side.

You’re not seeing the full story. You don’t know if they’re eating chocolate (and feeling guilt and shame about it) behind the camera. They only share what they want you to see.

Being controlled by food is exhausting. Being able to choose to eat what you truly want to eat, without feeling constrained about other opinions, that’s freedom.

I’m not saying that getting there is simple and easy. It requires trying and learning.

Most importantly: It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.

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