The 'clean eating' hashtag upsets me. GREATLY. Mostly because its meaning is skewed towards foods that actually give me really bad IBS symptoms like juicing, too many raw foods and as it turns out, in some cases, way too much sugar and snacking. We understand clean to mean something good. But the oxford dictionary meaning of words versus the wellness industry's meaning of words, quite frankly, is developing language at a rate which most of us can’t keep up with.
For the purpose of this piece allow me to indulge you with my understanding of the word ‘clean’ put with the word ‘eating’ -
Eating disorders, a community based on the need to show off, but more than anything, isolation.
All of us need to take stock of our lives often. It just seems necessary right (?), in a world full of noise and stimulation, good and bad. We sit with our heads sometimes and ask them what makes you happy? Lists get made both short and long and we head back into the world determined like a lion!
Anytime I’ve made an internal list wanting to live with an eating disorder, feel it necessary to show off or feel lonely, unsurprisingly never make it.
The things that make me happy are-
- ALL the delicious food and expensive wine produced with love.
- My gorgeous husband and seeing him happy.
- My dog who has the most loving and excitable nature.
- My remarkable friends and family.
- Being around inspiring people doing inspiring things.
- Water. ALL the water. I love you water.
- Running, movement.
- Looking at people trying not to stare.
- Working on myself and my development as a human being.
I don’t want to show off. Perhaps I influence you and if I do I intend for it to be for the good. I want to make an impact. The problem is I want to do the exact same thing as the people using 'clean eating' hashtags. Within #cleaneating I see the impact become the cause with little thought as to what the cause is! The cause is what I’m chasing. Not even chasing, what I’m persistent on. We need to rid people of IBS. I take this mission very very very seriously.
You probably wouldn’t be shocked by the number of people I’ve spoken to who are not eating right for their type. Most of us have suffered from this at some point in our lives due to lack of proper knowledge through proper research. Food education has always existed, it’s just that both us and the food industry chose to ignore it. I am concerned about brandishing us all with the same brush but what I’m trying to say is that it’s seldom not one of us makes a foolish eating choice.
We are living in a time where so much of the food we eat is made for high profit margins. That means longer shelf lives are essential, that means stabilisers and unnatural ingredients get added to the recipes, that means non-organic ingredients are used ahead of organic, that means unfair wages for SO many food producers across the world, that means shitty people doing shitty things with little regard for peoples health or wellbeing, that means vegan snacks, dairy free snacks, gluten free snacks, snacks snacks snacks snacks snacks and protein balls not coming out of anyone’s asses (cuz where the fuck is the fibre!) clogging up retail shelf space because they've got the best profit margins!
I’m not saying this is the fault of the 'clean eating' hashtag. But the 'clean eating' hashtag has meant dollar signs to so many people. So many bullshit products have spawned out of a community who are suffering with stomach cramps, are suffering with IBS, are suffering with skin flare ups and anxiety because so many of them are eating for acceptance as opposed to their tummies.
Find and be a part of a community that firstly enables you to respect your tummy and what it needs. We’re in an incredible time of groundbreaking research that is understanding the relationship between our brains and our guts. Feeding our tummies the right stuff is proven scientifically and anecdotally to improve overall wellbeing and mental health.
I want you and I to feel happy. Happiness is different for us all but it must mean good. It cannot fester into a lack of self confidence and self respect.
I had an eating disorder when I was younger. It began because I was hanging out with the wrong people. I was spending every social moment with girls who through their actions made me feel ugly. So ugly. I left that group and found one that made me feel happy again and from there I blossomed back into the person I was born to be. I am so grateful social media wasn’t around back then. I am so grateful my swimming partner was a guy 6 years older than me who wasn’t a part of the ugly. I am so glad my new best friend at the time made it her summer mission to get me to eat a sweet again. In a nutshell, I am so grateful I chose out of a situation where someone’s version of Karen was hate.
Since then I have chosen love every day. Of course some days it’s hard. Some days we all look at ourselves and see something in us that could be better.
I see sad people. I see people going through shit. I see people lacking in self esteem and confidence and it breaks my heart. Right now I am tearing up thinking of their pain.
This is a plea to people trying to make an impact without a cause. Give people eternal, deep, self loving happiness. Let us not rely on aesthetic happiness. Feed peoples tummies and minds the good stuff and if you don't have the right ability to do so, don’t.
I never thought I’d write this piece but for whoever has now read it I’m glad I did because it’s real and I’m real.
This is certainly not me saying I’m better than everyone else. It’s me saying I would like to see communities with genuinely, happier people in them.
To you the reader I love you, I really do. I hope you’re happy and if you use the clean eating hashtag and it works for you well then ok. I’ve just had far far too many tête-à-têtes with people now not to resent it. I don’t like seeing people tear up in front of me and I’ve never seen a movement quite like the 'clean eating' one in my lifetime to make eating disorders and anxiety such a normal occurrence.
Age and perspective are great things. So is fucking up a lot! A nice combination for honesty.
I’m older than that 14 year old girl who let another girl’s idea of me become my image. An image I never wanted and made me hate myself.
Was I weak to let her get under my skin? Perhaps yes, but it was because she and the other girls were my community and I needed that.
Where I was strong was in making the decision to leave it and committing to finding and feeling real happiness.
Community is everything. Support, love, encouragement, girl power, these are things we should focus on. Yeah lettuce is awesome but as part of a healthy mind and a healthy body.
To anyone suffering I wish you strength. I know how difficult getting stronger is, trust me!
I look forward to sharing more of my lifestyle with you. A life that makes me stronger every day and gives that 14 year old girl a sense of empowerment.
ALL the LOVE in the world,