Last night I watched a programme on BBC iPlayer. It was presented by a beauty and fashion vlogger Grace Victory “Clean eating’s dirty secret” It was a real eye opener. A great documentary. It shows how fierce and perhaps manipulating the world of social media is in sending out messages regarding food. I felt sick at some of the issues raised. Some followers of “clean eating” can take it to the extreme. Anyone can throw out a comment about nutrition and vulnerable readers can pick up on this and take it as gospel. It is really worrying. Some of the statements from top bloggers were given to a nutritionist who said that some of the bloggers were not giving out correct information.
There is now a new term/name alongside anorexia and bulimia - “orthorexia”. “An obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy. A medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods that they believe to be harmful”.
Grace interviewed Emmy Gilmore from a clinical recovery centre. She said that the clinic had seen an increase in suffers striving to follow some of these extreme clean eating plans and restricting food groups and as a result have become very ill both mentally and physically.
What Emmy said was “there is a massive negative guidance that is under a veil of something positive but it really isn’t positive. It encourages people to be too self-critical and restrict food groups and to praise people for depriving themselves of certain food groups, it isn’t positive it is really quite nasty”.
The extremely worrying and scary thing is that Emmy said more than a 3rd of clients that had visited the clinic were some of the country’s top bloggers! That was when I felt sick.
As a health professional of 25 years training and instructing clients in how to keep fit and healthy I immediately scrolled down my Instagram and looked at my posts. I was relieved to see that I do show a balanced approach in my messages (I hope). I do not post every “saint” or “sin” post but hope the message I am giving is I am living a happy, balanced life.
I am so happy that there wasn’t any social media when I was in my 20’s. I wonder if I would have become an “obsessed leader or follower”. When your body is young it is much easier and quicker to make physical differences through food choices than at 40 plus.
I suffered very badly with Candida in my 20’s so I went on a restrictive diet and followed a plan from a book “Jane Schrivner; Detox yourself”. It was one of the first books of its type. For me it has become my “go to book” as a reminder of what to do when some of my old symptoms come back. I initially followed this plan for 18 months. I cooked everything from scratch, no sugar no diary, no yeast (wheat is ok, yeast is the problem for candida). I had the time to cook because my daughter was a baby and I was lucky enough to be a stay at home mum. However, I spent so much time in the kitchen! I ate fish, meat and even cooked my own bread.
Was I obsessed? Yes I was. Not about how I looked but about how I felt. If my head felt fuzzy I would look at what I had eaten the previous day, the same if my muscles ached. I did lose weight and don’t get me wrong I was really happy about it, but it did impact my social life, eating out was difficult. My friends and family used to roll their eyes at me! However for me it was the fact I didn’t want to feel rubbish any more. I do like being on the smaller side but I would never go back to being so strict with my food because I LOVE food, eating out and wine. I enjoy my life within normal parameters.
But even now when I start to feel fuzzy headed, low energy and not sleeping I will look back on my week of food and I can usually find the reason why I feel like I do and I will make the necessary changes to my diet.
For me that is eating clean. If something is so far away from the original source then it can’t be good for you. So from here on in I will no longer be using #eatingclean as I would be horrified if I contributed to someone becoming ill from taking their diet to the extreme.