By Claire Gillespie
‘Clean eating’ is falling out of fashion. The food bloggers have turned their backs on it, even Ella ‘Deliciously Ella’ Mills has decried the categorisation of ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ foods.
I hate ‘clean eating’. I hate it with everything I possibly have, I hate that we’re not allowed to enjoy food anymore, I hate that we’re scared of it, I hate that every time I write about it I have to type inverted commas over, and over again. I have to though, because it’s a non-thing. It’s not a real concept so it doesn’t deserve any better.
I hate that we conflated eating with ‘wellness’ (also not really a thing). We didn’t make eating good food a wonderful addition to our lives. We make it part of an ambition to live a certain way. We made it part of a plan to look a certain way. The worst part is we’re not even allowed to call it a diet. We’re not allowed to suggest that it’s restrictive and therefore, slightly unpleasant, like the bog standard diets of the past. We have to pretend we’re enjoying ourselves.
I’ve eaten a dairy-free and sugar-free cheesecake, and let me tell you, no one is enjoying themselves.
Our bodies are a lot tougher than ‘clean eating’ and ‘wellness’ gives them credit for. They can cope with and digest and function on all manner of diets and regimes. We should treat them with love and care but also acknowledge them for what they are – filled with acid and enzymes. The pH of your stomach could literally burn you to death, so it will be alright if you eat a little bit of bread.
It’s not difficult to write a recipe book in which you say ‘here are some great things I’ve cooked, please enjoy them too and even change them if you like!’ I don’t think we have to present food as a life-changing experience, or a cookbook as a lifestyle guide, I think we can still enjoy food and not really care about it too much. At least I used to think so, now I just hope we can get to that point.
For the sake of transparency, I have been to these places. Last weekend I had brunch at Ella Henderson’s MaE deli, and it was delicious. I had fancy-ass beans on toast and a turmeric latte and it was a wonderful experience. It was wonderful because the food was great and the conversation was even better. I also ate a slice of cheesecake last week ( the dairy and sugar including kind) and had a very similar experience. Food is wonderful, and the people you eat with are better. Let eating food that tastes good with people you love be your lifestyle, but make sure your mind is on them and not your food.