My blood was slightly boiling. Did anyone see the Daily Mail yesterday? There was a dog-eared copy in Costa. I had spent a good few hours in front of the laptop (longer than I expected… my thought patterns were diverted off the straight and narrow by the overly loud Christmas music… Slade?… really?) and I wanted something to read for five minutes that wasn’t taxing. My rapidly ageing brain cells were by this stage wrung dry. I was drawn to an article quoting Nigella Lawson as having a dim view of ‘clean eating’, alleging it is just “another fad diet” used to disguise eating disorders.

My beef, readers, is more with the journalism than with Nigella. Whether Nigella said this or not, we shall never know, and it’s irrelevant (apart from the fact that she is a celebrity cook and will have some influence over the way the British public thinks about food). However, for the journalist to write an article which knocks eating pure food is irresponsible. In a few days’ time there will doubtless be another sensationalist article in the same newspaper hanging the NHS out to dry because of the number of obesity cases. Cases of which many are caused by the over-eating of processed foods.

‘OK, this clean eating…what is it exactly?’

It’s a way of eating (and not… ahem… a diet) that means consuming food in its most natural state. A way which includes as little processed or refined foods as possible.

‘I see. And what does the journalist in question say is wrong with clean eating?’

She is alleging that choosing to eat this way can mask a more sinister condition… such as anorexia, and (by using quotes from Nigella) this can leads to more than just weight loss. My answer to that is that someone who is suffering from a mental condition and who is hell bent on not eating, is going to put as little on their plate as possible, whether it’s four Pringles and a turkey twizzler or two bites of chicken and a dollop of rocket and quinoa salad. The case for clean eating shouldn’t be caught up in this. It’s not about small portions. It’s about having lots of the right foods.

‘And the right foods are..?’

Good fats (avocados, nuts, fish), healthy proteins (meat, fish, eggs, pulses), vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

‘What does ‘whole’ mean?’

It means a food which has been processed (refined) as little as possible and is free from additives and other artificial (i.e not natural) substances. For example, you’ve seen brown rice referred to as ‘wholegrain’ rice. That means it still has its nutrient rich bran and germ (only the husk has been removed). If you take the bran and germ away, you’ve got white rice. More refined, not so many nutrients. Not bad for you, no, just not as good.

‘So do you advocate clean eating all the time? Don’t you ever eat cake?’

Of course I do. But I wouldn’t eat cake from, say, a high street chain. I’d eat homemade cake… flour, eggs, sugar, chocolate. Natural ingredients put together. Not a list of weird made-up stuff.

‘And why do you (and presumably your parishioners and disciples) eat like this?’

I eat what I think is a pretty full on pure diet 90% of the time (occasionally 60%) to maintain a level of health that is going to see me through the next 30 years without too many hiccups. I want to do everything I can to have the best stab at living a full life and I don’t want it to be punctuated by illness, temporary setbacks or debilitating medical conditions. But more than that,  I want to encourage everyone else to do the same. Life is for living. If Friday night is Prosecco night, if Saturday dinner is a trip to the take-away and if Sunday is ‘blow it, let’s have a pizza’, then that’s ok, really ok. It’s when it’s like this every day that health issues start appearing.

‘So clean eating is not about being thin, then?’

If, by being thin, you mean at a level of body fat and a shape I am happy with and which I can drag around during the day with ease, then yes of course it is. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about what I looked like. For heaven’s sake, I run a health and fitness business and I run weight loss programmes. I deal with people who want to get thinner everyday. They’re hardly going to take advice from someone who has clearly let themselves go. Nigella has recently dropped a couple of dress sizes. How she did it is seemingly something close to her chest. She may not want to be seen ‘caring’ about her shape. There is nothing wrong with people caring about their shape. I have seen self esteem, confidence, job prospects, marriages all flourish because men and women have got back control of their bodies. And clean eating has always played a part in that.

Thank you for reading. I’m back in my box now. :0) Annie x

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