28/04/2015 13:26 BST | Updated 28/06/2015 06:59 BST

My Problem With #EatClean


Is anyone else getting a bit sick of the hashtag #eatclean? It's not what it represents, which I largely agree with, but how loaded the term is. If this is eating 'clean', that suggests eating any other way is somehow 'dirty'. Surely that's as emotionally messed up as calling food 'bad' or 'naughty'. Food is food. It isn't 'naughty', 'bad' or 'dirty' and as soon as we build that relationship with it, we risk getting obsessive.

The reality is #clean food is usually just 'healthy', but that's not a cool hashtag. It's also eating well, but again-that's not going to get you any retweets. So called #clean food is also usually unprocessed, so natural. That's a brilliant approach to food; sticking mainly to fruit, veg, meats, fish, grains and dairy, dodging processed, refined, unhealthy grub with endless ingredients lists.

The #eatclean hashtag is also, let's face it, a bit smug, suggesting that by eating 'clean' food you're somehow better than the riffraff eating that filthy food. Food shouldn't have a hierarchy, there shouldn't be cool kids, and it shouldn't feel 'exclusive'; we should all eat well. Especially as 'clean', or rather healthy, natural and unprocessed foods like fruit, veg, canned pulses, tinned fish, simple grains, plain yoghurt and eggs are all pretty cheap and widely available.

Food should fill you up, sustain your energy, provide your body with important nutrients and taste delicious. It should neither make you feel smug nor guilty. It should be balanced and tasty, and yes you should feel proud when you make something lip-smackingly yum but that's it. It shouldn't be loaded with emotional baggage - that's when obsession kicks in; suddenly more and more is isn't considered 'clean', and becomes 'dirty' or 'bad' - and is therefore restricted.

You start out eating a home-made feta cheese and watercress omelette, but then you start losing the yolks (too many cals). You liked a wholewheat lasagne but then you swap the pasta for courgette strips (carbs are the enemy), you enjoyed an apple crumble here and there, but you ditch it completely (no sugar for you). But don't worry! Because you #EatClean all week you can 'allow yourself' a 'cheat day' at the weekend. So now eating counts as adultery, certain foods a 'crime'. Congratulations, you've sucked the joy out of eating and created a dysfunctional relationship with your fridge!

Eating well is about balance, not obsession, so I for one am watching out for those hashtags and not letting them mess with my relationship with food. I intend to eat well, eat natural, eat wholesome, eat balanced. But I won't be eating clean.