We have arrived at the biggest problem of all, the clean eating myth.
It’s actually quite scary how ingrained this myth is in today’s society. I can’t recall the number of times I’ve spoken to the ‘average Joe’ about why I’m having a can of Pepsi max or why I’m having my favorite chocolate bar after telling them a few days prior that I’m dieting.
They cannot comprehend that I can be consuming sweeteners and some carbs from chocolate and still be dieting. Let’s list some of the commonly heard clean-eating garbage catch-all terms.
• Those foods are not clean!?
• Sweeteners are worse than sugar! (How many times have I heard this!?)
Check out this study and this study on why sweeteners are not the devil!
• Aren’t you supposed to be eating chicken, rice, and veg?
• Don’t eat too much red meat it’s bad for you
• Why are you eating bagels? They make you fat!
• Butter makes you fat, you can’t diet with that!
• How are you having chicken, rice, and curry sauce and dieting?
• Eating McDonald’s makes you fat regardless of the amount!
The last one is a favorite. It’s the typical response when I try and explain I can still lose weight by eating at McDonald’s but eating under my caloric maintenance.
Some are into believing that clean eating is the only way forward and the only way to lose weight.
What the heck is the definition of clean eating anyway?!
DO YOU WASH all your foods and now they are magically “clean?”
• Food that’s low in fat?
• Food low in carbs?
• Meat only?
• Only food that’s grown in the ground?
• Only green veg and chicken?
• Organic food?
We live in a world where we are judged by whatever it is that makes us happy, especially when it comes to the food we eat. Today, you’ll see people giving you a look that screams “That’s bad for you and you should be ashamed” each time you consume anything they find “unhealthy.”
Foods do not affect you because of the labels humans have assigned to them. Your body doesn’t digest a ‘clean’ meal and thinks “Clean meal – check!”, and gives you a magical health benefit.
There are only 3 ways food can affect us:
1. Eating too much of anything leads to a caloric excess which leads to being overweight and all the health problems that come with it.
2. Eating foods with too few nutrients as a whole will give you nutrient deficiencies.
3. Food that interferes with the functions of the body can cause diseases, fat build-up, increase the risk of certain diseases, and more.
I’m not saying that having a MacDonald’s meal is superior to a chicken breast with rice and green veg. If both meals were to have the same amount of calories I would obviously go for the chicken, rice, and veg. Why? This meal will give me more bang for my caloric buck. This means more nutrients and more fiber and that leads to being fuller and having healthier lean proteins.
The problem is that clean eating labels anything out of the realm of chicken, rice, and vegetables as ‘bad for you. It’s only bad for you when it’s not eaten in moderation.
Let me give an example:
I have 2000 calories a day to eat, which is comprised of 200g protein, 200g carbs, and 40g of fat. On Monday, my diet consists of only chicken breast, rice, almonds, beef, and vegetables to hit my target, but on Tuesday, I have the exact same macro-nutrients, however, my last meal is a McDonald’s cheeseburger and a McFlurry.
Will there be any difference between the 2 days?
It is not the best food quality but it is accounted for in my macros.
My calories and macros are EXACTLY the same and thus I would get the same results if I followed either day for the next 4 weeks. I would probably PREFER the diet on Tuesday as it would lead to me not wanting to cheat on my new lifestyle and will give me balance.
Clean eating is dangerous because it is NOT SUSTAINABLE.
It encourages eating disorder behavior and GOOD and BAD food demonizing. This is because it can lead to people eating ‘clean’ followed by cheat days that are essentially binge days full of junk food. This isn’t sustainable and shouldn’t be the way you choose your relationship with food.
Research has shown that most people would have to eat roughly 20% of their total calories from refined sugar before it became impossible to meet their micronutrient needs. Balance in all things is a must or it will be a matter of time before white-knuckling it to the end of the plan.
Sustainability is so important and versatility is as well.
Enjoy your spring and summer vacations and treat yourself to something every day to have that sustainability!