In 2016, it was clean eating. In 2017, it was hygge. What will 2018’s fad be?
I’d always thought of myself as quite a logical person, and someone who wouldn’t be caught dieting or caught shopping for trends. To this day, I much prefer simple, classic items and approaches to life and wellbeing. That being said, I definitely did get swept up in the clean eating craze – do you remember that?
It was a time of buddha bowls and Deliciously Ella, unheard of exotic ingredients and multiple trips to Planet Organic. I got so far into it that my blog was picked up by The Sunday Times, with one of my smoothie bowls even gracing the front page of their newspaper.
The dark side of clean eating
And before you knew it, the phrase “clean eating” was a dirty word. I was a part of that destruction – I remember discovering the negative side of the movement, and realised that no-one was talking about it.
Orthorexia is the term given to an obsession with food quality, purity and its nutritional value. It’s what a small percentage of people who followed the clean eating trend fell into, and it’s a psychological problem as much as it is a physical one. I read about the phrase on a little-known health website and identified with a few of the symptoms myself – I was making food look incredibly pretty before eating it, criticising my family for cooking white rice rather than brown, and generally feeling a bit up-tight about my food.
My discovery all boiled down to an article in The Sunday Times Magazine in which I was interviewed, and while I insist to this day that I wasn’t a victim of orthorexia, I did feel like the big names in clean eating should be talking about it.
Instead, the phrase was quickly swapped out of their marketing campaigns, and it strangely continued as normal. The Deliciously Ella brand goes by “natural and honest food created from simple ingredients“, Amelia Freer likes to “Eat. Nourish. Glow. & Cook.” It’s the same product, just in different packaging.
A lesson learnt
I’m still really glad that the clean eating revolution happened. It gave rise to healthier foods being widely available, and organic food is coming back stronger than ever. Over the last four years, I’ve turned vegetarian, then vegan, and now I don’t pigeonhole my diet, instead opting for the healthiest diet my nutritionist recommended.
I’m grateful to clean eating leaders like Ella Woodward and Natasha Corrett for introducing me to morning smoothies, coconut yoghurt (just like the one slathered on the banana bread above), and the fearlessness of trying alternative foods and powders. I still love thumbing through my vegan and plant-based cookbooks. But the biggest lesson I learnt was moderation.
Quite literally with a pinch of salt
Now, I still love a good healthy dinner, but please pass me the chocolate mousse afterwards. Feeling peckish? A packet of crisps will do just nicely, even if they’re veggie crisps. I cook with organic food, but not all the time.
It all started with food, but moderation has seeped into almost every aspect of the way I live. I actually get a little nervous if anything is approached with complete conviction: nothing and nobody is perfect. We should question what we do, and try different things.
This reflection comes in January for a reason: with all this talk about diets, gym memberships, and New Year, New You, it’s important to stress that good intentions are only really viable if you balance them with happiness too. Plus, how many new years do we need to go through before there’s a new catchphrase?!
Whether you went through the clean eating revolution, or you’re just aiming to be more mindful with your diet, take it from an ex-clean eater that the prettiness of your food has to also balance with how much pleasure it provides when shopping, cooking, and tasting it too. That is the only way to have a truly healthy diet – and sustain it.