The writer contends that clean eating, the practice of avoiding processed foods and eating clean and natural foods from the Earth, is a scam and should be abandoned because it is too rigorous and leads to disordered eating patterns. And as he tells his story, I can see why. Anything taken to an extreme - which it appears that he did - can be destructive. I've been there too; I've been burned by my own extreme behavior and have learned from those mistakes.
But just because you went on a crash diet that someone sold you as "clean eating" does not mean that an entire philosophy, one that is not about weight loss or sports nutrition or strategic body manipulation, is flawed.
In the article he maintains that people who engage in clean eating are purists who would not, for example, eat pizza...but would eat the individual ingredients in pizza. Clean eaters, he says, would not eat fried rice, but would eat rice, egg whites, vegetables, and other components of the food they shun. He eschews the lack of socialization that clean eaters have in recreational eating events, such as traveling or going out to dinner with friends. His personal experience with clean eating was bad, that much is clear. But please remember these important lessons from his experience:
1. Clean eating is a personal journey. I know clean eaters who eat things I don't, and I eat some things that other clean eaters won't eat. I see recipes in Clean Eating that I would never make because they include artificial sweeteners, which I do not consider to be "clean." It's about setting personal boundaries for what you want to use as fuel for your body. The only real qualifier in my mind is that the food be un-fooled-around with, simple in its ingredients, and actually healthy. A quick look at the list of ingredients on a food should clear that up right away (hint: it should be short and composed of actual foods).
2. Clean does not automatically equal healthy, and clean does not mean you can eat unlimited quantities of food. Even healthy food has calories, and they add up. Even clean food can have unhealthy attiributes (beef, for example, can be perfectly "clean" but still has a lot of saturated fat). Just because something is natural does not mean it is good for you. Use your noggin, people!
3. Anything taken to an extreme is going to bite back. He complains that he was eating clean and working out...and that when his "best body competition" was over and he went to Denny's and binged on an enormous meal of processed meats, pastries, and other food he was dismayed that he had seemingly undone his hard work. Clean eating did not do that to him. His binge did that to him, and people can binge after any extreme behavior, not just clean eating.
In short, I can tell that this guy feels cheated and angry because the diet he went on betrayed him in the end. I have to believe, however, that clean eating is about more than dieting yourself down to win a bodybuilding contest (which he does admit, he placed second in thanks to his clean eating). As you've heard time and time again, being healthy is a lifestyle, not just something you do on the weekends. Eating clean is a mindset, a commitment to yourself, and a plain and simple way to fuel yourself every day, not just when you're wanting to shed a few pounds.
If you want to eat clean to lose weight, go ahead, but if you treat clean eating like a diet, it will act like one. Instead, eat clean because it is a smart way to eat.
And by the way, this clean eater eats pizza
at least twice a week. So there! :)
If you have clean eating questions, let me know and I would be glad to discuss with you. And if you want to see how some real clean eaters cook and eat real food, visit the Gracious Pantry for oodles of recipes!