A Clean Diet or Eating Disorder?



It’s hard to skim through any means of social media today without coming across fitspo, or images and words posted with the purpose of inspiring people to live a fit, active life. With the intention behind fitspo being to motivate and inspire others, many people have hopped on the green smoothie bandwagon and adopted the cleaning eating lifestyle. But like everything else, a lack of understanding leads to misuse.

Today, more and more women are following the #eatclean movement. But at what point does “clean-eating” become an eating disorder? Claudia McNeilly finally addresses the subject in her article “When Does ‘Eating Clean’ Become and Eating Disorder,” and acknowledges the term “Orthorexia,” which is defined as an obsession with healthy foods.

Read the article here.

I couldn’t have been more interested when I came across this article by Claudia McNeilly, as this particular subject is one that I have long pondered about. Eating disorders is a subject that really hits home with me. With fitness and fitspo blowing up social media, and with the conniving marketing of makeup industries telling women that their primary value is how they look, it’s easy for a girl growing up in this day and age to develop body image issues. An eating disorder can include anything from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder and according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their life in the United States alone.

So how does this go back to clean eating? Simply put, clean eating refers to eating whole, real foods as opposed to food that has been refined and processed. Those that follow a ‘clean’ diet rave about the benefits, including better sleep, decreased stressed, increased energy and an overall improved mood.

So is there really a dilemma here? If you’re still eating food and it’s healthy food, then is there really a problem? Typically, when you throw in the word “diet,” you’re talking about restricting, whether it be types of food or the amount. When you consistently avoid specific foods in the belief that they are harmful, we flirt with the line of orthorexia, and according to findings in Claudia McNeilly’s articles, thousands of people can identify with this condition.

“Orthorexics are not ‘crazy’ and othorexia is not about blaming healthy food. It is about when the desire to eat healthy takes away from the other aspects of a person’s life. As Jordan Younger writes on her blog, orthorexia occurs when someone believes that a diet is the answer: ‘It breaks my heart to see and hear beautiful, motivated, capable young women being sucked in to an extreme diet and way of life because it has been branded to them as ‘THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO LIVE’ above all else,’ she notes. ‘If anything is claiming to be the #1 healthiest, or the ONLY way to live, then you know you’ve found a problem.'” When Does ‘Eating Clean’ Become an Eating Disorder?

So do we stop eating clean all together? I know for me personally, that will not be the case. I think the best way to break the dangers of extreme clean eating is finding a balance and saluting food for what it actually is, nutritious and delicious awesome-ness obtained in order to maintain life and growth.

IMG_5675When I make myself a delicious green smoothie with coconut and coco powder and spinach grown from my friend’s garden, I can’t help but smile and chances are a picture is going to go up on Instagram of my beautiful creation. But I think the important part is realizing that my magic green smoothie is not the solution to my problems or my fitness goals. So maybe that’s how you overcome orthorexia and eat clean correctly… Appreciate your healthy food for what it is, without expectations that it is going to make you a more fit, better version of yourself.


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