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Articles > Money January, 09, 2017

Why Are We Overcomplicating Clean Eating?

Ruthie Nugent
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8.67 / 10

If you’re like most people, you’ll turn your nose up at anything resembling a vegetable. You’ll also go to places like McDonalds much more often than you ought to. You’re constantly told by others that you’re not healthy. And you know it. But what on earth can you do about it when the world is making healthy eating so expensive and inaccessible?

clean eating green smoothie

Why does clean eating have to be so expensive ?

For instance, you’ve probably heard of the popular movement called #clean eating which blew up on Instagram. Today searching that tag alone will conjure over 27 MILLION posts…

We can only expect this to increase with the new year as many people will use it in a bid to become healthier. They’ll search this tag for motivation and see what (supposedly) everyone who wants to be healthy should be eating on a ‘daily basis’. Only, they don’t know how inaccurate this trend is.

Scrolling through posts by clean-eating Instagrammers, you’ll drool over flawless bowls of chia, goji and coconut porridge; stacks of Matcha green tea protein pancakes; gorgeous displays of vegan cacoa-nib-chip cookies and bright green glasses of spirulina, coconut and hemp smoothie… Transfixed by what you see, you’ll decide to become a ‘clean-eater’!

However when you go to buy the ‘crucial’ ingredients, this is where the problems emerge. Popular clean ingredients are extortionate. Yeah one spirulina, coconut and hemp smoothie may be affordable, but try paying for a lifestyle which needs them every day!

“Clean eating is being privatised by greedy health food retailers and irresponsible clean-eating bloggers”

Take the high street shop Holland and Barrett for example. This is the self-proclaimed ‘leading UK health retailer,’ so it seems an appropriate choice for regular people who want to be healthy, right? But browsing the brimming shelves of bottles, jars, bars and bags can be daunting…

“G-ginko bil-oo-ba? Ac-id-o-phil-us capsules? Ultra Maximum acidophilus capsules or Mega-potency acidophilus capsules?” If the confusing names alone don’t put you off then the price tag will. That’s a common problem in health shops like these: something snatches your attention but the extortionate price sends you packing…£1.09 for 35g of chocolate can’t be right… Nakd bars which are usually in Asda for 53p each are priced here as 99p… Sorcery?

No wonder people rule out being healthy altogether and run to the nearest fast food restaurant!

Clean eating is being privatised by greedy health food retailers and irresponsible clean-eating bloggers. Take the YouTuber ‘Freelee’. They are advocates of the ‘raw till four’ trend (meaning no cooking until after four), as well as ‘mono-meals’ (containing one ingredient) and, what I believe is most ridiculous, she eats up to 51 bananas a day…

clean eating red smoothie

Clean eating people go over the top with complicated ingredients

These people are taking advantage of trends that have been blown out of proportion and are warping people’s minds to believe this is the only way to be healthy.

I have no problem with green smoothies, chia seeds, flaxseeds or linseeds. Admittedly, I whip up courgetti as a snack and ‘banana nice cream’ for pudding sometimes; both of which are popular with clean-eaters. However, I do disagree with following a lifestyle which is a trend.

The obscure ingredients, myths and magical remedies these companies promote are overcomplicating health, pretending that only those who follow strict regimes and have bottomless bank accounts can achieve a healthy lifestyle. It’s things like this which are the cause of an increase in obesity and diabetes in the UK.


So if you want to get healthy this new year here are my three tips:

1) Don’t follow the restrictive rules defined by Instagrammers. Your only lifestyle rule should be that it works for you.

2) Don’t compare yourself to Instagram posts, Deliciously Ella, Madeleine Shaw or Freelee. Remember everyone has flaws, some just conveniently keep them hidden from their followers.

3) Don’t let health food shops bust your bank account with their totally unnecessary remedies and capsules which ‘boost your brain power’. They won’t, trust me. We all have a good idea of what healthy and unhealthy foods are, and if not do some research. Find realistic alternatives to these expensive recipes.

Whether you agree with my stance on this or remain unconvinced of an issue, I highly recommend the 30 minute documentary by the BBC: Clean-Eating’s Dirty Secrets. Both an entertaining and eye-opening watch!


For more articles from our member Ruthie, check out her blog here!

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  1. william

    I think eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. Just eat real food. If you think about it the average family of four would spend over £25 on a takeaway for one night. I am a student and do my own shopping for the week and spend less than £20 a week on REAL food. I eat over 8 portions of fruit and veg a day and still stick to my budget. People use ‘healthy food is expensive’ as an excuse to eat unhealthy because it isn’t as convenient and look for something to blame to be lazy. In the end you will end up paying it back with time of work and medical expenses therefore I believe you should put the effort in to eat healthy. You get one body, you should look after it.

  2. abdrr97

    This day i had an extra like 3 hour to kill and read this article .
    in my opinion this is a true reflection of life 🙂

  3. Conor

    Much agreed!!

  4. Charlotte

    yes it is expensive to eat healthy compared to eating unhealthy or fast foods. To cook a healthy meal from scratch for a family can cost a lot.

  5. meri

    i totally agree with the last part about not believing instagrammers too much.

  6. emily

    I agree with this article

  7. aryan

    I think…It is true that these days people are becoming more and more obsessed with the idea of eating healthily, which is a good thing when it is used in the right proportions.

  8. Lily

    It is true that these days people are becoming more and more obsessed with the idea of eating healthily, which is a good thing when it is used in the right proportions. Some people see certain Instagram accounts or YouTube users and try to replicate their living style, and it is unrealistic. It can also become unhealthy when people use ‘healthy eating’ as an excuse to eat less or eat poorly, and that’s when it becomes a problem.

    • Ruth

      Although the clean-eating movement doesn’t ’cause’ eating disorders, it can certainly fuel them and reinforces the misconception of ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ foods. It’s crazy how something that on the surface screams healthy is actually so unhealthy and concerning.

  9. Aalia

    I think you’re right. I am an extremely frequent customer of Holland and Barrett, but the items I buy are all extras- treats if you like. You certainly don’t need chia seeds to be healthy- fruit, veg, beans and greens are enough, but if you want to add it that’s fine. That doesn’t mean you’re missing out on anything. there are always cheaper alternatives to ‘superfoods’.

  10. pradyumn

    I think its good to face reality, yes I must agree with this article

  11. Zipporah

    I believe so called clean eating is not always the case, people need to becareful in following these kinds of trends because it leads to so many health implications.The Instagram lifetsyle is not always true because we never know the story behind the picture or product their selling.

  12. Annn

    I agree

  13. Elinor

    So true… it’s so easy to feel pressured into specific diets or meal plans when what we should really be worried about is our own personal health and how we feel. It’s silly to put pressure on ourselves to conform to specific health plans when they might not work for you and your body.

  14. Bren

    This article is timely. I had an hour to kill today and found myself browsing in 3 ‘health’ food shops in Ealing. I left with nothing. Way overpriced!! I stood for a long while watching the customers and what they were buying. Several were young students buying a small basket of items each. Maybe the few items were for a special meal. Maybe they are wealthy and can afford it. This article helps to see how difficult it is to eat healthy from a young person’s perspective.

    • Ruthie Nugent

      The idea that healthy lifestyles are unattainable and expensive is totally false, simply a dangerous marketing tool. Whether you shop at Asda or Wholefoods, you can reach the same health goal, just have a much heavier wallet at the end if you shop at Asda!

  15. juhi

    yup i totally agree with this article.

  16. menthol

    First: don’t use instragram
    Second: healthy food is actually rather cheaper than most junk food



  18. Dean

    This is so true! I work part time, in a supermarket (Tesco) and have noticed this a lot recently!

  19. Chelsey

    I think it’s down to what young people want to do with there body’s and it’s how they have been brought up in my eyes so everyone is different

  20. Grace

    I think the government needs to do more to help with people trying to eat healthy, it’s not right that a salad costs more than some chips.

  21. JACOB


  22. Shorts112

    This is absolutely correct!