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Trendy diets can ‘leave you starved of vital vitamins’ and clean eating is ‘expensive, unsustainable, and a potential health risk’ according to an article published this week. Is this for real?

According to the Daily Mail, choosing foods in their whole, natural state, avoiding processing and additives can have ‘potential health risks’ and is expensive and unsustainable.

Yet the Daily Mail article also says “There’s no doubt that highly processed foods have played a major role in our obesity problem, and these diets are right to promote eating more fruit and vegetables.”

Now I’m confused.

Surely if there is ‘no doubt’ that highly processed foods are fuelling a rise in disease and sickness then it is eating those foods that is unsustainable?

Think about it, scientists are constantly working to extract various components of plant-based whole foods in the development of treatments for major diseases – for example, medical studies have highlighted the possible cancer-beating powers of broccoli and drug companies are working to extract some key components of broccoli. I can’t imagine any drug companies trying to develop treatments from donut extract, or the extract of any highly processed food.

Is “Clean eating” an eating disorder?

Renee McGregor, a dietitian who works with athletes and people with eating disorders, told the Daily Mail: ‘What I don’t like about the term “clean eating” is that it seems to tell us we need to eat in a certain way to be pure.’

Dr Richard Sly, an eating disorder researcher and clinician, adds: ‘Many eating-disorder patients describe foods as making them feel dirty and unclean. It’s quite stark to see the same language used outside an eating disorder setting.’

I understand these concerns. Your attitude to your health and what you eat is essential to long term, sustainable health.

I believe these comments are focused on taking a restrictive view of ‘clean eating’ and having rules and limits about what is ‘allowed’ or ‘acceptable’.

My belief is that health comes when you stop be restrictive and simply focus on adding more plant based whole foods to your lifestyle. It is NOT about limiting yourself, but rather understanding the abundance of delicious foods available that support your health.

The feelings of shame that can often trigger eating disorders start with perfectionism. Don’t try to be perfect. It is OK to have a little of whatever you fancy. The key thing is to focus on consuming a wide variety of ingredients and adding in lots of plant-based whole foods.

Does juicing (and clean eating) lead to eating disorders? To learn more check out my blog from April 2014: Can Juicing Lead to Eating Disorders?

Food Addiction

My belief is that the biggest eating disorder is the global addiction to processed foods. In his book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss reveals how the processed food industry no longer thinks of us not as customers, or even consumers, but as potential “heavy users”.

This is an industry that processes food to give it pharmaceutical, drug like qualities, by deliberately manipulating three key ingredients – salt, sugar and fat.

The food and drink industry know how to make foods that act much like drugs, in the way they trigger the brain’s pleasure zones.

Michael Moss explains, that the addictive nature of processed food is not by accident and scientists have calculated the exact formulations to establish what is know as the “bliss point”, the precise amount of sugar, fat or salt guaranteed to “send consumers over the moon”.

Although processed foods themselves may appear inexpensive, when you factor in the healthcare costs they are the foods that are truly ‘expensive, unsustainable, and a potential health risk’.

 

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