Does extreme ‘clean eating’ do more harm than good?

Why you should think twice before swearing off ‘unhealthy’ foods forever


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.


But this is where things start to get sticky. Some people insist on cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar (including fruit)! Others cut out all animal products (vegans).

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?

Continued on the next page…