What is Clean Eating?
For years, I believed that the only way to get in shape is through “clean eating“? What is clean eating? Though the concept of clean eating is tricky to understand, it can be defined as a method of only eating “whole foods, or real foods- those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible“.
This definition does seem very confining to me, because it intrinsically separates foods into various categories. For instance, if “clean” means foods such as broccoli, chicken and rice, then would you label foods such as donuts, red meat and bread as “dirty“? Based on this definition, it is clear that following a restrictive food guideline can often times lead to an unhealthy relationship to food. In some cases, it can encourage an eating disorder.
Binging the Ugly Side Effect of Clean Eating
When I first started to become serious about my fitness and nutrition, I honestly thought that maintaining a clean lifestyle was the only way to reach my goals. I became obsessed with ensuring to consume foods that are “clean” in my mind. There were many times when I resented myself for eating a cookie or ice cream. Eventually, I couldn’t resist myself from eating the foods I was craving. And so, the binging cycle occurred.
Believe it or not. Binging is a very common problem in the fitness and bodybuilding industry. The severity of binging varies- some individuals experience small binges throughout their fitness journey while others develop a deeper issues with food. It’s important to understand the cause of one’s experience with binge eating in order to conquer it.
Clean Eating vs. Flexible Dieting
In my opinion, I don’t think that the concept of clean eating is sustainable in the long-run. As in matter of fact, limiting and restricting oneself can often create the feeling of isolation.
Often times flexible dieting is typically presented on social media as the “junk food diet”. It usually involves foods that are high in sugar and fat content such as pizzas, burgers, donuts etc., which fits with the acronym “if it fits in your macros”. The underlying idea of flexible dieting essentially means that no foods are off limits as long as it is within your macro ratio. Although I find this concept more refreshing than clean eating, since it’s very controversial from what we had in mind. Nevertheless, consuming from mostly “dirty” foods is just as extreme as consuming from mostly “clean” foods. Either way it’s not healthy.
In order to make any method of eating sustainable, it’s important to take balance and moderation into consideration. Based on those two critical factors- balance and moderation, I believe that flexible dieting would work for me. It’s essential to consume plenty of wholesome foods, which will provide enough fiber intake. It’s also essential to eat the foods that I typically enjoy, which in the past I used to avoid.
I’m aware that I’m not in my optimal state yet, since I do experience from time to time binge eating. I’m also trying to adapt to this new way of lifestyle, so I understand that it takes time to see any progress. Nonetheless, I’m certain that I’m on the right path in reaching my fitness and health goals even if it takes a lot of dedication, patience and discipline.