THE PROBLEM WITH "CLEAN" EATING
If we take a closer look, we see that “clean” is a very judgmental word, commonly associated with words like: “good,” “pure,” “chaste,” “stainless,” “unsoiled,” and “spotless.” The problem with this is that if food is now defined by these standards then, obviously the opposite standard for food would be “dirty.” So if you’re eating “dirty” food, that would mean you’re consuming food that is: “cruddy,” “dingy,” “dusty,” filthy,” “foul,” and “nasty.” We’ve all heard the phrase you are what you eat. This couldn't be more true; not necessarily in the literal sense, but in the psychological sense. Our psychology greatly influences our eating behaviors; whether it is stress eating, binging, eating while bored, and eating because we’re depressed, and so on. So if our psychology is closely intertwined with the way we eat, then how long before we start to associate the aforementioned words with ourselves. How often do we beat ourselves up because we ate a “dirty” food? How harshly do we judge ourselves because of it? Is it possible that we set ourselves up for failure trying to avoid these “dirty” foods at all costs; leading to the inevitable binge.
So what do we do? We understand that no specific food makes us fat or unhealthy. Most if not all ailments associated with dietary intake are due to eating in excess. If we are gaining weight, it’s because we are consuming more calories than our bodies are burning. While it’s true some foods are very high in calories, that does not make them inherently bad. If we eat in excess, even if it’s chicken and broccoli, we are going to gain weight. Understanding this, some neutral non-judgmental phrases may be a better option for defining how we eat. These phrases are: “Nutrient Density” and “Caloric Density.” This terms encompass the fact that there are some foods that are more nutritious than others, i.e. an apple vs. a piece of cake, but if we are managing our calories and consuming more “nutrient dense” foods than “calorically dense” foods we might just end up healthier physically as well as psychologically.