By KATE LEAVER
Eating clean isn’t about health anymore. It’s about discipline and shame.
Celebrity-endorsed eating plans like Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” series and Pete Evans’ “The Paleo Way” are not diets. They’re cult-like groups that thrive on a culture of fear around food rather than realistic wellbeing.
At various times in my life, I’ve tried to cut out foods like Wilson and Evans recommend. I’ve banished dairy, sworn off sugar, and been mortally afraid of carbs. But as a survivor of anorexia, the way these eating plans operate remind me alarmingly of what it’s like to be sick. The strict rules, the obsession with checking ingredients, and the fear of certain foods are eerily reminiscent of starvation.
Look, eating less sugar and fewer processed foods is a positive thing. Reframing your life and every meal around an extreme, restrictive diet is not.
Healthy, happy people do not obsess over the content of their next meal, and they do not naturally balance their self-worth on whether they can resist a cupcake or not. It’s a troubling, dysfunctional way to think about eating. They’re not just flogging recipe books and promises of weight loss; they’re selling a lifestyle.
I’ve watched friends and former colleagues compete in a literal Hunger Games to be the cleanest, purest eaters. Not because it makes them physically healthier, but because it feels like victory.