I don't typically comment on or write about anything controversial. It's just not my personality type to engage in heated debates (in fact, I rather hate them) and most of the time, I purposely stay out of such things.
But, I did want to write a post about something that I read recently that ruffled my feathers a bit. It was a blog post about how clean eating can be "dangerous" and "force" people to starve themselves and/or cause serious nutritional deficiencies or health issues.
Um... I would've hoped that it would go unsaid, but I guess not. So, let's go ahead and get this straight right now...
Clean eating is about common sense, not about extremism.
The article that I read gave a few different examples of people who followed clean eating diets (of various forms) and ended up feeling sick or having health issues from it. One was about a popular "healthy living" blogger who got so sick that she even began to lose her hair and then, being so embarrassed since she was supposed to be a "face" for the movement, didn't speak up about it right away because she was afraid of backlash (which she did receive when she did speak up).
At first, I tried to just blow it off as ridiculousness (even though it did bother me). But then, I myself received a message from someone who had read my book and had a negative reaction to the part where I talk about clean eating because of an experience she had at her church where a group of people had embarked on a clean eating journey together and somehow it ended up with people being "afraid" to eat something that wasn't on the plan - which left this woman with obvious anxious and traumatized feelings over the whole thing.
I am going to try to say this in the nicest way possible... but any change that you make in your life should be done with common sense. Whether you are just cutting out something like gluten or dairy, beginning exercising or going full-blown vegetarian. Obviously, you need to be mindful of your body and how you feel as you incorporate these new changes and then, make any necessary adjustments along the way.
You should never feel like you are being forced to eat in a certain way - whether it's from a book, a group you belong to or just popular opinion. If something you are trying makes you feel worse, than obviously stop! Or make adjustments to what works better for you.
I think that's the part that really bothered me the most - that somehow the entire concept of clean eating was being put into question just because a few people made poor choices in their own situations?
I will give you a prime example of how this came into play in my own situation. For a long time, I had wanted to go vegetarian. Not even for any specific health benefits, just because of how sensitive I am about animals. So, I actually did go totally vegetarian for a little while. But, it was unfortunately at the same time that I was healing my body from adrenal fatigue.
One of the main lifestyle changes you need to make in order to support and heal your adrenals is to have a lot of protein in your diet. Now, even though I am aware that it is possible to eat a protein-rich vegetarian diet, I found that I was having difficulty getting enough protein. It could have been that I wasn't familiar enough yet with how to cook vegetarian meals, that my metabolism was too fast or a host of other things. But I made the decision that for that particular season of my life, for my body, going vegetarian wasn't the best option.
Instead, I cleaned up the way I ate meat and began only choosing truly organic, antibiotic and hormone free chicken and organic, grass-fed beef, as well as a couple kinds of healthy fish. I stopped buying from the mass-produced chains and began purchasing from smaller, health-focused grocery stores or directly from the farmers themselves at local farmers' markets as much as possible.
It was simply about making smarter choices. And overall, I was still switching to a healthier diet that consisted of less inflammatory foods and less toxic, genetically modified foods.
Since I had gone through that situation myself, I guess I just assumed that other people would make similar decisions for themselves, but unfortunately, I guess I thought wrong. And if I'm totally honest, it does make me want to say, "Come on... really?"
Yes, it's one thing to be given poor medical advice or worse yet, be administered something or told to do something that is actually detrimental to your health. But when it comes to something that is as common sense-based as eating a cleaner, more natural diet... I would hope that grown adults can be trusted to make their own decisions within that.
If you find you're not getting enough protein on a vegetarian diet, eat clean meats! If you find that your body rejects non-dairy milk and you do okay with dairy milk, then by all means... go back to it and just try to stick to healthier varieties that are low in sugar and not genetically modified. If you hate beets, don't eat them!
Again, it's about common sense.
Overall, clean eating is simply about getting rid of the toxic, processed, modified cr*p that we've all been trained to eat over the years and get back to what our ancestors ate before all that existed - vegetables, fruits, whole grains and clean meats. Plain and simple.
It's about cutting out all the processed, packaged and scientifically created or modified foods that call out to us from every magazine, TV commercial and supermarket shelf. It's about getting back to what naturally grows out of the ground or on a tree (imagine that) and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store where the healthy stuff lives (have you ever noticed that before?)
And most importantly, it's about putting good in your body, so you can get good out. It is simply about taking care of your body in a more natural, simple way.
Clean eating is not and should not be:
-About feeling like you "fit in"
-About following a trend
-About impressing someone
-About feeling pressured by someone else or society
-About deprivation or punishment
In fact, if you are trying to eat clean for any of these reasons, then I say you probably should stop! Because at some point, you're going to start feeling resentful, bitter or rebellious and start sabotaging yourself or lashing out. And in the end, the only person that's really going to hurt is you.
Wait until you are doing it from a pure place - one where you are simply interested in taking better care of your body and you realize that it's not a fad or a trend or a "diet." It's a way of life.
Because that is when you will succeed. That is when you will start making lasting changes. And that is when you will be in control of your own health.
The way it should've been all along.
Til next time... keep your worries tiny and your dreams BIG!