From The Guardian: Not only is the clean eating movement based on pseudoscientific beliefs not backed up by evidence, but it may also lead to the development of eating disorders. Still, the lifestyle continues to remain popular for a variety of reasons.
“It’s increasingly clear that clean eating, for all its good intentions, can cause real harm, both to truth and to human beings. Over the past 18 months, McGregor says, ‘every single client with an eating disorder who walks into my clinic doors is either following or wants to follow a clean way of eating’.
In her new book, Orthorexia, McGregor observes that while eating disorders long predate the #eatclean trend, ‘food rules’ (such as eating no dairy or avoiding all grains) easily become ‘a guise for restricting food intake’. Moreover, they are not even good rules, based as they are on ‘unsubstantiated, unscientific claims’. Take almond milk, which is widely touted as a superior alternative to cow’s milk. McGregor sees it as little better than ‘expensive water’, containing just 0.1g protein per 100ml, compared with 3.2g per 100ml in cow’s milk. But she often finds it very difficult to convince her clients that restricting themselves to these ‘clean’ foods is in the long run worse for their health than what she calls ‘unrestrained eating’ – balanced and varied meals, but no panic about the odd ice cream or chocolate bar.
Clearly, not everyone who bought a clean-eating book has developed an eating disorder. But a movement whose premise is that normal food is unhealthy has now muddied the waters of ‘healthy eating’ for everyone else, by planting the idea that a good diet is one founded on absolutes.”