Is Clean Eating Actually That Good For You?

Scrolling through the Instagram discovery page, it’s hard to miss the countless pictures of girls with better bodies than mine.  From Louise Thompson, and her over-protective boyfriend, to Tammy Hembrow and her impossibly tiny waistline, it’s easy to see how women can become unhealthily obsessed with their image.  As a result, many women are constantly on the lookout for new diets and ‘get thin fast’ fitness tips.

Enter clean eating!  The answer to all of our problems.  Unless you live under a rock, or in McDonalds loving life (go you!) then you’ve probably heard about this latest foodie trend.  It isn’t quite a diet, more of a philosophy based around cutting out refined sugars and filling up on lovely big plates of ‘whole foods’ aka ‘foods in their natural state’. Although they may not actually use the term ‘clean eating’, it’s difficult to claim that the diet based around fruit and veg, as promoted by Ella Mills and the Hemsely sisters is unhealthy.  In fact, it is said to have a wide range of benefits.  Going clean could give you better skin, reduce bloating and help you lose weight.   It has even been claimed that it can prevent cancer by the wellbeing website  And, most important to us poverty stricken students, it should be cheaper than living off processed foods!  So far, it seems that clean eating is the amazing and untouchable way forward!

Indeed, for many people it is.  But the problem with clean eating goes deeper than our skin, our waistline, and even deeper than our student pockets, would you believe.  The majority of criticism targeted at clean eating focuses on its effects on mental health.  For some, following simple eating rules can quickly change from a healthy philosophy to an obsessive and unhealthy addiction prompting clean eaters to cut other food groups necessary for a balanced diet.  By labelling our food philosophies, we’re arguably setting ourselves up to fail.  I like to think that I have quite strong will power, but I know that every so often, an offer of cake is just too good to resist.  Whilst I know this doesn’t make me unhealthy, the guilt creeps in all the same and that’s without setting myself the goal of eating clean.

The National Diet and Nutritional Study, published in 2016, found that 1 in 6 women under the age of 24 are consuming worryingly low levels of calcium.  Gwyneth Paltrow, one of many famous advocates of clean eating, discovered the true consequences of this when she was diagnosed with osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis as a result of her decision to cut out key food groups.

Overall, clean eating can undoubtedly benefit your body, and for many your mind and attitude towards food.  What is important to remember, however, is that it’s okay to treat yourself and not to look like other women on social media; because whilst they’re winning at the gym, you’re busy winning at other things like getting your degree, having a fab social life and eating a tub of ice cream in one sitting but still looking fabulous because healthy living is all about moderation.

Edited by Nicole Swain