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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Is the "Clean" Eating Trend Killing You?

That's right, I'm going there. Labeling entire food groups as "evil" is dangerous. The food trends that claim to be the healthiest right now seem to be the gluten-free, vegan, raw, superfoods, chemical-free and toxin-free diets.

Let's start with gluten-free. Unless you are part of 1% of people who suffer from celiac disease, you do not gain true health benefits from eliminating gluten. Cutting out carbohydrates can actually lead to fiber deficiency. Something to consider before jumping on this expensive and restrictive bandwagon.

The vegan diet itself is not dangerous and can actually provide some interesting health benefits. But without proper planning to ensure complete nutrient consumption, it can lead to severe health issues very quickly.

Raw diets are unbelievably restrictive and can be incredibly dangerous. Cooking actually improves a variety of foods, giving greater access to certain nutrients and assisting in digestion.

Superfoods are not always very super. Mostly they are exotic varieties that are marketed as the modern day snake oil. Example, goji berries. Strawberries have the same vitamin C content, their name, unfortunately, is just not as glamorous.

The fear of all chemicals is fallacy. Everything is a chemical. And most things can sound very threatening when listed by their chemical names. Avoiding processed foods however, is a beneficial practice due to the obscene amounts of sugar and sodium involved.

The same is true for toxins. There is an irrational fear without taking the serving into consideration. Generally speaking, the dose makes the toxin. Water itself can be toxic if drunk in high enough quantities. Its all relative to what you are ingesting.

The problem with the "clean" eating trend is that obsession with food choices mixed with a lack of planning can quickly lead to deficiencies and disorders. These trends are leading to a new eating disorder, orthorexia nervosa, which is closely related to anorexia. For more information on orthorexia, check out this link

True "clean" eating should be focused on seasonal, unrefined food, not eliminating entire food groups.

The best advice is also the least glamorous, borderline boring advice. A balanced, varied diet, with multiple servings of fruits and vegetables, minimal processed foods, and reasonable portion sizes.

I do want to be clear that I am not demonizing specialized diets for those who truly need them. Or, properly planned ethical diets for that matter. It is imperative to ensure balance in our diets though. And, following obsessive, restrictive, "clean" eating diets is just plain unhealthy.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, so comment below!

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