Clean eating is promoted as the antithesis of a diet. Proponents say: “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” Furthermore, fitness models and health bloggers associate eating clean with being “happy” and “healthy.” There’s no doubt many of the principles associated with “clean eating” are key to a healthier mind and body—less processed foods, limited alcohol and more vegetables come to mind.
Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s private chef Allen Campbell reported the couple’s militant-like diet restricts nightshades, because they cause inflammation. “So no tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms or eggplants,” he said. “Tomatoes trickle in every now and then, but just maybe once a month. I’m very cautious about tomatoes. They cause inflammation.”
Other big players in restrictive eating include Vani Deva Hari A.K.A. “Food Babe.” The blogger advocates whole, organic and non-GMO foods only—urging readers to cut the “nasties” out of their food.
Buying organic produce is one thing, but is it really worth avoiding a restaurant dinner with friends because the menu doesn’t have a 100 percent organic option?
Jordan Younger, formerly known as the Blonde Vegan, lost thousands of readers when she transitioned away from a 100 percent vegan diet, attributing it to a “self-destructive fixation with clean eating and an obsessive focus on healthy, unprocessed foods.”
“I had ordered oatmeal in a restaurant and realized it was cooked with milk and not vegan. I freaked out and threw a tantrum. I was such an unhappy person,” she said.
What began as a healthy pursuit turned into “orthorexia,” a phrase coined in the 90s by San Francisco-based Dr. Steven Bratman. Bratman says the disorder is marked by a “fanaticism” for pure foods.
So what’s the takeaway here? Should we all just give up on healthy eating as obesity and the health risks associated with it continue to rise?