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How eating clean has turned toxic

It is a term we read often on all of our favorite social media pages. We all must start eating clean because there are so many nasty, dangerous components to foods these days that we must be warned against. The list of foods that are being praised vs avoided increasingly grows, and depending who your source is you will hear conflicting lists. So what exactly does the term "clean eating" mean? What is its definition? And to tell you the truth the answer is ... NOTHING. The term has absolutely no backbone or definition. It can mean anything you want it to as a consumer. This way of living falls into the same hole as the word natural, local, or whole food. These are all terms not regulated by the FDA and therefore can be placed anywhere a company or person sees fit.


So you may be wondering with this information, how could a food association such as "clean" be turned into a toxic, all-consuming way of life? This is because of the extremes that people are taking to define what it means to eat clean. I am certain that people think they are harmlessly telling others of foods that need to be avoided based on terms they swear worked for them to do x, y, or z, but from what I see it is taken too far. This concept has created a new form of disordered eating, referred to as 'orthorexia'. It has blown-up over the last decade with the rise of social media and non-professionals providing what would otherwise be referred to as medical advice in a professional world. The following is information taken directly from the National Eating Disorder Association website. The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being. Like anorexia, orthorexia involves restriction of the amount and variety of foods eaten, making malnutrition likely.


If you believe you are suffering from orthorexia and have a fear or extreme aversion to eating "processed" "unclean" foods I would advise you to speak with a medical professional whether it is your doctor or a registered dietitian. There is room for all foods in our diets, and it is important to understand the balancing act that comes with navigating all of the "health claims" and "food facts" that are thrown into our faces on an hourly basis. It can be confusing, but there are professionals that are available to help you navigate. No specific way of eating works for every person, it is important to find what works for you and makes you happy. There doesn't have to be stress or fear of foods involved.

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