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Articles > Money January, 09, 2017

Why Are We Overcomplicating Clean Eating?

January, 09, 2017

Ruthie Nugent Youth Panel member. Member since May 2016.
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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.

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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. Bren
    January 10, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    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
      January 12, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      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!

  2. abdrr97
    January 13, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    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
    January 10, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Much agreed!!

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