At the very present second*, #cleaneating has been tagged in 39,016,540 Instagram photos. That’s about 26 million more than #Beyonce, whose plant-powered KALE sweatshirt won us over in 2014.
Our four-legged fur babies are eating the same whole food, non-GMO, grain-free, organic diets that we are. Documentaries like Hungry For Change, Food Inc. and Cowspiracy have made the industrial meat & food production industry as transparent as ever.
So what does the ubiquitous concept of ‘clean eating’ mean today?
For starters, let’s define eating at its cleanest:
Embracing foods close to nature (farm-to-table) and focusing on simple, non-GMO, pesticide-free, unprocessed, pronounceable ingredients in their whole form.
On the flipside, guilt-inducing ‘dirty eating’ involves processed, refined, deep-fried foods with poor quality oils, preservatives and refined sugar. We’re talking endless #wingnight at the pub, artisanal buttery croissants that saunter their way into the office lunchroom, an “emergency” package of dark chocolate covered gluten-free pretzels, and conventional dairy products from factory farms with unethical conditions.
Is it possible to indulge mindfully and not feel bound to dietary moral high ground all day, every day?
Keeping up with the cleanest of eating habits can create a whirlwind of irrational thoughts and disordered eating habits (think orthorexia – the obsession with healthy eating). Thankfully, the current food and nutrition climate is warming up to moderation and balance, less so diet absolutism. Phewf.
A prominent example of this shift is NYC-based wellness blogger Jordan Younger. Back in 2014, she was a gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, grain-free, legume-free plant-based raw vegan. As The Blonde Vegan, she gained worldwide acclaim for her $25 green juice cleanse program, selling over 40,000 copies.
When she opened up about her hair falling out, the cessation of her period and her skin turning orange (due to an excessive amount of carrot and sweet potato consumption), she decided to seek professional help and modify the rigid diet dogma she so devoutly adopted.
Upon publishing the blog post “Why I’m Transitioning Away from Veganism”, she received an influx of infuriated replies (even death threats). While she lost followers, she gained a firmer grip on her personal health and began reshaping her wellness journey. Today, she goes by The Balanced Blonde.
Model and Cravings cookbook author Chrissy Teigen also embraces a flexible, clean eating mantra: “I feel like even potato chips can be considered clean. Olive oil and sea salt, baked? No? Oh well.”
Reflecting on the humble roots of eating clean – before entire food groups were scrapped – let’s throwback to food author Michael Pollan’s approach: “eat foods, not too much, mostly plants.”
In other words, we’re following the seasonal cycle of plant foods, listening to our unique biochemical needs, and making mindful food & lifestyle choices.
Supporting our local farmers’ market and setting aside time for prepping nourishing meals at home has a super positive feedback loop. We’re also cultivating gratitude and loving ourselves, whether we choose full-time veganism, paleo, keto or a flexitarian approach (no diet-shaming here).
One clean eating trend that won’t disappear any time soon? Our beloved avocado toast. Beyonce reaffirmed this truth in her recent avo toast announcement that she’s going vegan pre-Coachella.
All hail (kale?) Queen Bey.
*just like our gut flora, the #cleaneating hashtag is multiplying by the millisecond.