I stumbled upon the idea of clean eating three years ago. A simple, pure way of eating that claimed not to be a “diet”- what could be bad?
In a few short months, I became obsessed. I kept a screenshot of an ideal clean eating grocery list open on my phone as a guideline for what I ate. My mind was constantly consumed with thoughts of what foods I could cut out from my diet next. In time, however, my physical and emotional health took a turn and I finally came to the realization that I had been sucked in by the propaganda of the clean eating movement.
I luckily had positive influences in my life who helped me get back on the right track. But unfortunately, there are many young, impressionable girls (like my fifteen-year-old self) who are continuing to endanger their health and sanity in pursuit of this clean eating lifestyle.
The internet and social media have promoted this rise of self-proclaimed diet experts who preach about the “right” way to eat. Though it’s great that advice about nutrition is easily accessible, it has become so that many are exposed to questionable information.
Clean eating is thus not just an important issue to members (or former members, like myself) of the online community. The problems it creates can be of concern to nutritionists, dietitians, doctors, psychologists, etc.
The condition Orthorexia Nervosa, though not officially recognized as an eating disorder, has gained much attention in recent years. The term relates to a fixation with eating healthy, which can often result from taking the clean eating diet to extremes. Since this condition may require professional help, the dynamics of the clean eating movement are of interest to specialists.
Interactions within the clean eating community may also be of interest to those who study ethics and online communities. The comments section of youtube has become a major battleground for clean eating advocates and critics.
Many of the courageous commentators who engage in online discussion are, believe it or not, motivated by a sense of morality. However, they tend to present their ideas in a way that comes across as insulting, ignorant, and arrogant, and behave in an unethical manner. Many vegans, for example, see a moral duty to protect the lives of animals, but have no regard for the feelings of the meat-eaters they are addressing.
Though many may not see clean eating as very interesting, there is much to explore about the diet itself, as well as communications between members online. Since clean eating is such a sensitive issue than can have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences, people need to write responsibly and reconsider the ways in which they present information and opinions.