February 1, 2017
How clean is too clean when it comes to your diet?
There’s always a new healthy eating trend or diet popping up with people saying it is the best thing for clean eating. Whether it’s a cookbook, blog or Instagram posts showing avocado being used on everything, many of us look to these to help inform our food choices.
But is this really the best way to do things? Should you actually be changing your diet based entirely on the latest fad, promise to lose weight or apparent discovery that a certain ingredient is bad for you?
The answer is no. In fact, changing your diet too much and cutting too many things out of it can actually be detrimental. This means that trying to be healthy could ultimately make your diet ‘too clean’, causing more problems and not delivering the benefits the latest trend claims to.
So how can going too clean with your diet affect you?
Cutting out entire food groups isn’t a great idea
We all know that certain types of foods aren’t great for us. Things like sugar and carbs can be damaging to your health and weight if you consume too many of them. This is why many clean eating regimes aim to cut these out.
However, you do actually need both sugar and carbs to function. Not getting enough can seriously sap your energy levels, mean any exercise you do isn’t as effective and actually leave you more prone to illness. These results can be worse if you cut entire food groups out of your diet all of a sudden.
Essentially, unless you’ve got an allergy, you shouldn’t cut out food groups. Instead, reduce the amount you eat of them slowly and find alternatives – such as complex carbs instead of simple – so you don’t find you’re suddenly tired or ill.
Rigid guidelines can cause problems
You may start out with your clean eating regime with the best intentions. Maybe you want to stop eating so much rubbish or lose weight? These can be good reasons to start clean eating, but can also be why you take it too far.
People often become fixated on foods and increase the list of things they can’t eat as they continue with their healthy eating regime. This is called orthorexia, a term that was coined by Dr Steven Bratman in 1997.
According to Dr Bratman, internal guidelines lead to eating becoming increasingly strict, with food sometimes being used as a punishment if you break the guidelines. Not only can this make eating difficult, it also increases the risks of becoming malnourished.
Instead of counting calories or saying you’re not allowed certain foods, it is better to eat a balanced diet and enjoy treats every now and then to help reduce the chances of binging or becoming too obsessed with your food.
You might not be eating as clean as you think
Just because a food is natural or minimally processed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is entirely healthy. Juices and smoothies, for example, may be packed with fruit, but they are also full of natural sugars. On top of this, they don’t contain as much fibre or nutrients as whole fruit, meaning you aren’t actually getting everything you need.
Some natural foods are also high in fats, such as avocados. While avocados do contain ‘good fat’, you can still eat too much of this and undo the health benefits. The same can be said of foods like coconut oil.
It is important you fully understand how certain preparation techniques can affect foods, as well as what ingredients contain high levels of natural fat and sugar. This will help you create a balanced diet without having to be so so strict with your food.