By: Laura M. Howell
In this article I'm not going to tell you it's better to eat a whopper than a salad. I'm also not going to recommend a Snickers over a quality protein bar or a scoop of "Ben and Jerry's" instead of a bowl of oatmeal. And if you've come here to find justification for your daily chip affliction you're not going to find it. This is not an article patting you on the back for eating crap all the time. What I am going to tell you is that you should be able to eat fast food, ice cream and even chips once in awhile and (here's the important part) not feel bad about it. Feeling guilty about eating food always means one of two thing: #1 you're eating too much of eat or #2 you're not eating enough of it. Chances are you know if you're part of group #1. Now, if you're part of group #2 and you feel guilty about eating junk food because you NEVER eat it and only practice "clean eating" than you may be heading down a miserable road. Clean eating is the new under cover eating disorder. It is a blanket nutrition term that people are taking to dangerous extremes.
What is Anorexia?
Anorexia is the disease that most people think of when they think of an eating disorder. The kind people at Eating Disorder Hope talk about anorexia as a" psychological and possibly life-threatening eating disorder defined by an extremely low body weight relative to stature (this is called BMI [Body Mass Index] and is a function of an individual’s height and weight), extreme and needless weight loss, illogical fear of weight gain, and distorted perception of self-image and body. So, is clean eating an actual eating disorder, of course not. But, the term "clean eating" and the societal acceptance of constant restrictive eating can cover-up signs that someone is showing eating disorder behaviors that could lead to an eating disorder, like anorexia. I garuntee that everyone that has experienced a full-blown eating disorder such as anorexia, started off wanting to simply "eat healthy" or follow a "clean diet". One does not have to have extremely low body fat to have eating disorder tendencies. Any type of irrational fear and food avoidance over a long period of time is an eating disorder. Remember you should be able to eat an un-healthy meal and not feel guilty about it for hours or even days following the event. This is why Clean eating is the new under cover eating disorder.
Clean Eating isn't ALL BAD
Okay, you got me clean eating isn't all bad. Clean Eating has many good properties. Clean eating promotes green vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbs. Sounds just about nutritionally perfect. And no, I'm not working for McDonalds, I understand what healthy food is. The problem with clean eating is that it's vague definition can be hugely misunderstood and taken to dangerous extremes if put in the right (or wrong) hands. By wrong hands I mean someone that has pre-dispositions to developing an eating disorder. Clean eatings properties are usually left to the users digression. It can be taken as far as the individual wants to drive it and is extremley excepted by society and therefore never questioned. "I'm not on a diet, I'm eating clean". Diets are the devil in society (this is good) but lets face it clean eating is a diet that never ends and that my friends is why clean eating is the new under cover eating disorder.
So What Gives. How Should I Eat?
I'm glad you asked. Instead of trying to follow a diet with little to-no room for mistakes you should follow a nutritious lifestyle with food that fuels your activity and makes you feel good. Clean eating (if followed to its true wholeness) can drive you mad, because let's face it even seemingly healthy food can be considered unclean if looked at under the harsh clean eating guidelines. When eating a slice of bread that isn't 100% whole wheat is not allowed, even when you need the carbohydrates for energy you've entered a dangerous place. Situations like this is when clean eating is the new under cover eating disorder and you need to look at your nutrition plan with open eyes. A truly balanced plan understands that you are a human, you're busy and that once in a while you may find yourself at a drive through window. A balanced nutritious lifestyle of eating understands that in modern day there is such thing as healthy convenient food that comes in a package. It's not always an option to cut up vegetables for 30 minutes a day to meet your clean eating quota. It's the lack of flexibility that makes clean eating the new under cover eating disorder.
Want to read about more mental and physical health habits that even personal trainers skip??? Check out this article: The Healthiest of The Healthy: 10 Health and Fitness Hacks That Even Trainers Skip
5 Signs Your Clean Eating Lifestyle Has Become Your New Under Cover Eating Disorder
- You cannot order anything from a restaurant menu without a 10 minute discussion to the waiter about the amount of butter, oil and fat content in your food.
- The idea of eating around others who do not follow your strict "clean eating" guidelines makes you nervous. You feel like everyone will be staring at your food and judging you.
- The amount of time it takes you to make simple food such as oatmeal or eggs is double as long as the normal routine due to the amount of water or "fillers (vegetables)" you're adding to make the food more filling when you (finally) eat it.
- Your restrictive eating has gone on for so long that family members make "special" food for you at parties so you don't eat nothing.
- You find no joy in food. You do not look forward to your meals and find yourself daydreaming about all the food thats not allowed on your "clean eating" plan.
It's these 5 signs that show that clean eating is the new under cover eating disorder.
If anyone you know is going through any of these restrictive food behaviors and you're concerned do not hesitate to get them help. Follow this link for information on where to start: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org