What exactly is clean eating?
Does it mean simply cutting out junk food? Or does it also mean cutting out gluten? Perhaps it means going Paleo, or maybe going vegan? What about going on a raw food diet?
I’m pretty sure that if you were to ask several different people what clean eating means, you will get several different answers, including some of the ones I have already mentioned and anywhere in between. There is no single standard to the term as everyone will have their own interpretations of what it means to them.
But as we dig a little further on this term, you will start to see that things are being placed into two categories: clean and not clean. And though that is fine for some people, it can become a psychological disaster for others.
An obsession can begin with clean eating, creating an unhealthy relationship between some people and the food they eat. It no longer becomes something enjoyable. It becomes something they are thinking about all the time, eliminating things out of fear and having enormous guilt when they eat something that is deemed unclean on their list.
Their attempts at clean eating have now turned into anxiety at meal times, leaving some people refusing to eat if it’s not up to their clean standards. Some people may even push away family and friends as the obsession grows.
I’m not saying that clean eating is wrong. Everyone should strive to improve their health through good, nutritious food in the manner that serves them best. But if clean eating has turned into something that creates such a panic-driven lifestyle, it’s time to stop and reconsider what is really happening and to reestablish a healthier relationship food.
Food is fuel. Food provides the nutrients you need to do the things you love.
Meal time shouldn’t be about filled with anxiety. If clean eating is creating a mess of your internal state, perhaps there is something more going on to be addressed that you are using food to mask and control.
Spend some time alone, in meditation and journaling, to begin uncovering what is really going on. Talk to someone you trust about what’s going on.
Because clean eating shouldn’t be a way to control your life. That will only create more issues as you push away or bottle up what’s really going on. Our relationship with food and with ourselves is what will carry us either positively or negatively throughout our lives. Think about it: they are the greatest lifelong relationships in our lives. They are the relationship we need to nurture in a healthy manner if we want to feel like we are thriving rather than merely surviving.
So in the words of Tara Stiles, “Eat like you love yourself.” Whatever clean eating means to you, do it because you love yourself and want to be the best version of yourself that you can be. And if you find yourself starting to head down a path that just doesn’t feel right, I hope that you can find the strength to stop and reevaluate the issue at hand.