The Clean Eating phenomenon has swept the UK over the last few years and I’ve watched with interest as it’s spread around social media. My introduction to these diets came when I was given Deliciously Ella’s first book back in 2015. Since then, clean eating has continued to increase in popularity but there has also been some backlash against a few of the more high profile figures in this movement, questioning the facts behind these lifestyle ‘crazes’ and branding some as unaffordable and even dangerous…
I was intrigued by Deliciously Ella and I’ve since read quite a few other diet/lifestyle books with a similar primary goal – overall well-being rather than weight loss. They range from relatively ‘limited’ plant-based diets with no dairy or gluten, to those which allow meat but advocate reducing sugar and processed food. Some of these books are very compelling (read Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet and you can understand why it has influenced so many people). But, thanks to my scientific background, I’m quite good at stepping back and thinking critically about the evidence that is presented to me.
I do believe that a good diet can have lots of healing effects. I struggle with chronic tendonitis so if I hear about a method that promises to reduce inflammation, I’ll look into it. I started to read, research…. and eat!
At first, I was keen. It was never supposed to be a complete diet overhaul BUT I made a few juices, tried ‘clean’ recipes, drank almond milk instead of cow’s milk, bought medjool dates to snack on instead of chocolate. But there were two major restrictions: My boyfriend (who loves meat and picks anything green off his plate) and exercise (I was doing a lot of cycling and running training last year and in my efforts to maintain my calorie/protein intake, clean eating fell by the wayside).
So it was difficult – even for someone who (I like to think) already eats fairly well. I’m not sticking to any diet rules in particular at the moment, although I do make a conscious effort to eat less sugar and processed food (she says, having eaten bacon 3 times over the last 4 days!). I don’t cut out any food groups and unless I find out that I’m actually intolerant to something, I doubt I ever will.
That was the main issue I had with some of the restrictive diets. There have been tales of young women going to their GPs with issues linked to malnutrition because they have cut out ‘bad’ foods. Don’t just follow headlines like ‘Crisps cause cancer’. I prefer an ‘everything in moderation’ approach!
Clean eating isn’t cheap either. The expense of buying fresh fruit and veg shouldn’t put you off eating healthily, but to follow some of the more extreme diets to the letter you need decent food processors, blenders, juicers, and unusual ingredients.
I haven’t at any point changed my diet significantly enough to see any concrete changes but I’ve learnt a lot more about nutrition in general. It’s opened my eyes to new foods and recipes. I still keep DE’s book handy – I (occasionally!) make my own hummus and there’s even a recipe which makes kale edible!
If you’re looking to make changes to your diet, my advice is: don’t take advice from just one source! There is lots of information out there and sometimes it can be difficult to know which facts to trust. Don’t just pick the method with the most beautiful pictures and follow it blindly – do your homework, try things out – it may take time.You must do what works for you, not whatever is a miracle cure for someone else. Make any changes gradually if possible. Don’t just cut something out without considering the full effect. And don’t feel you have to eat something you don’t like just because it’s ‘healthy’! (This was me with kale…..)
I’ll stop here because this post is at risk of morphing into a more general rant about diets. Nutrition is a topic that I find really interesting so I’m sure this is something I’ll come back to.
I’ve really struggled to find time to read or write any posts recently – life has been super busy (in mainly a good way!) – lots of weekend meet-ups and nights out with family, friends and work colleagues which, although fun, leave me spending the week playing catch-up. I have definitely been burning the candle at both ends and I’ve felt the impact over the last week or so. I try to spend evenings off away from a screen but it doesn’t help that my boyfriend has just bought a massive new TV and we now have access to Amazon Prime and Netflix! #distractions…..