Do you really think organic asparagus, served with pre-washed quinoa and coconut oil, will help you have a baby?
Sure it will. Because if you you eat clean, and you spend a lot of time in your active-wear, you must be a good, healthy person. And healthy people deserve to fall pregnant. They also deserve to beat depression, find love, beat acne, escape domestic violence, conquer cancer (Belle Gibson, anyone?).
That’s why that asparagus will help…
Clean-eating is just another tool we use to shame other women, and make ourselves feel better, or more deserving, in the process.
Oh, of course she’s having trouble falling pregnant – have you seen how she eats?
She has no idea what she’s doing to her body by eating gluten.
I’m sure she’d get over her depression if she’d just quit sugar. I mean, I’m just trying to help.
NO! You are not helping.
You are overlooking real problems, and (in some cases) real heartache, because you’re so absorbed in the feel-good-status of being a vegan, organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, mindful, raw, clean-food eater.
The world doesn’t begin and stop with whatever dietary fad you’ve decided is saving the world. Real life continues, even after you’ve given up meat.
But people forget this. And I don’t blame them. Because, when your insta-feed is filled with raw avocado and organic cacao powder snacks, you can’t help but feel inferior while looking at your kitkat and diet coke.
By the same token, when you have gone to the effort of making a raw avocado and organic cacao powder snack, you’re going to feel superior, thinking about all those suckers with kitkats and diet cokes. (You’ll also instagram it, of course, otherwise what’s the point?)
This superiority manifests itself into this feeling of entitlement, justification, self-righteousness, deservedness. But it’s false.
No doubt, there are scientifically proven health benefits of eating well – and a raw, organic snack is better for you than chocolate and soft-drink any day – but jumping on the clean-eating band wagon is not the answer to everything.
Chia seeds are not going to reverse the endometriosis that’s preventing you from falling pregnant. Goji berries are not going to undo the spread of cancer. Acai is not going to correct the chemical imbalance that is depression. Sure, these foods might help, but they’re no silver bullet.
Eating healthy is not going to find you a loving partner. Or get you out of abusive relationships. Or make you ‘beautiful’.
Most importantly – and what we all forget – is that eating healthy is not going to make you a better person. It doesn’t give you permission to judge other people, and it doesn’t grant you with a degree in nutrition. Leave that to the real professionals.
But it’s not that easy, is it? Because the people who are blogging about clean-eating , who don’t have degrees in nutrition or health science, but who do have beautiful instagram feeds and some superiority-inducing recipes, these people are beautiful. They have shiny hair, beautiful skin, loving partners, a peaceful mind, a healthy body… They are #grateful #blessed #radiant.
They are also having you on.
Clean eating is a viral manifestation of ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out). But it’s not a fear of missing out the actual healthy stuff – like the nutrition, vitamins and fibre – it’s fear of missing out on all the supposed ‘extras’. The hair, the boyfriend, the miracle pregnancy, the unbeatable immune system.
Clean eating is just another way women are being put into boxes. And we’re doing it to each other. In the name of ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘well-being’ we have created a culture of exclusiveness, comparison and entitlement.
It’s fuelling eating disorders in young girls. It’s making food about fear, not nourishment. And, most desperately, it’s giving rise to a hotbed of misinformation that clean eating is going to solve all your problems. That organic asparagus is just the thing your ovaries are craving, and that – just with a little more chia and a touch more gratitude – you’re going to land that job promotion and find the love of your life. #idontbuyit