What Does “Eating Clean” really Mean?

One of my favourite quotes for 2017 (yes last year) was Eat clean, train mean and get lean.The “clean eating” movement began as a well-intentioned effort to encourage people to eat more vegetables and less processed food. It’s since exploded into the zeitgeist with such force it’s become downright mainstream: search #eatclean on Instagram and you’ll find more than 47 million photos. Of Amazon’s bestselling cookbooks, 18 out of 20 are health food related. Almond milk and oat milk arrived on grocery store shelves. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of people on gluten-free diets nearly quadrupled. Eating clean and green has never been more popular — and yet the term can be interpreted so many different ways.

What does “clean eating” actually mean?

At its core, “clean eating” means consuming only unprocessed, whole foods, organic food with as little contact with chemicals as possible. However, what constitutes a food as “unprocessed” and “whole” can be deeply subjective.

What began as something of a universal truth — vegetables are good for you, processed foods are not — snowballed into a highly-commercialized belief system complete with its own factions, splinter groups, and (yes) extremists. Somewhere along the way, it convinced people like me I can only truly “be well” if I drink cashew milk and collagen smoothies.

Don’t get me wrong: I love and appreciate healthy food. My dads a fisherman and Fish is my favourite food. I recently started buying barbuto organic eggs and they taste absolutely amazing, I understand that, in many ways, “eating clean” is extreme because it’s needed to be. In a country where we have pastizzi outlets opening up on every other street corner, added sugar lurks where you’d least expect it, and obesity rates are spiraling out of control… is it really a surprise that a health food movement would rise up to challenge a fast food world?

“Our food system is in desperate need of reform. We need to encourage young people to chose healthier options and we need to find ways to make healthier options more affordable – its ridiculous that buying 6 pastizzi is cheaper than a salad.

#EatClean is the equal, opposite reaction to a seriously screwed-up food system. Newton’s Third Law, but with coconut oil.

But can there be too much of a good thing? While encouraging people to eat fresh, healthy food instead of drive-through cheeseburgers is great, the movement runs the risk of providing people another outlet for food obsession.

What we need is to learn about moderation. Yes eat clean; choose sensibly but don’t be too extreme as people will eventually rebel. that moderation was much harder to maintain. Malta is a country of extremes. “Why do we find it easier to do the Atkins diet or a gluten-free diet than to just be sensible and practice moderation? Sugar is obviously bad for us, but do you need to give up everything immediately?,” Chef and food writer Gizzi told British Vogue. “There are some foods out there that are dirty. I mean, there are some really dirty burgers out there, and junk foods have grim ingredients lists. But burgers can be clean and brownies can be clean – use good ingredients and make them yourself at home. As far as I’m concerned, the sensible thing is to have as varied a diet as possible most of the time, and every once in awhile, just say fuck it.” and enjoy a cheat meal.

Here are three tips to practice more moderation with food:Cook at home when you can

Life gets crazy, so eating every meal at home might not be feasible — but aim to cook more meals than you don’t. This way, you can make sure you’re getting essential nutrients the majority of the time and can rest easy when you help yourself to that donut at work or eat out for lunch on a busy day.

Say no to fad diets and trends

Generally speaking, any diet asking you to omit entire food groups is designed to deliver fast (but completely unsustainable) weight-loss results. They’re popular because of the instant gratification they provide, but they aren’t suited to long-term success — which is why 97 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lose. Making small positive changes — like walking more or eating extra servings of veggies per day — will improve your health in ways that will actually stick. This is why when i started Plan H it was such a help as it was eating healthy home cooked meals which helped me stay on track

Be generous with yourself

You are a smart, capable person with too much shit to do to waste any more time at war with your body. Cut yourself some slack and remember that life (and food!) is meant to be enjoyed. I know this sort of paradigm shift is easier said than done, but start putting in the work to get there. Treating your body with respect doesn’t just mean eating salad and hitting the gym. It means recognizing it for all the awesome stuff it lets you do — and quitting punishing it just because you feel you should.

What are your thoughts on “clean eating”? Tell us below!