So Really What The Heck Is “Clean Eating”?

I was talking last night with a friend about how “clean eating” has become more damaging to families than all of the other diets that have come along before it. I find it creates so much judgements on ourselves and how we see others.

I also feel that concepts like clean eating make my body feel like a slave to my mind.

I am very VERY clear on how I understand the struggle and stress of this time with “clean eating”.  This subject actually comes up a lot. At a workshop or talk I often get asked, “Hey Chef, what do you put in your smoothie?” And I look down at this beautiful human being, and I think about the day I first make a smoothie 15 years ago. I think about when I drank that smoothie and gagged!!!

You see.. I’m just not into 3 bananas, spinach, a whole heap of weird $69/kilo powders and some dates whizzed up. It’s just not my thing, this ain’t my gig.

I never grew up with all these diet trends, and so I never go on the smoothie health bandwagon, which a lot of people consider as a pillar of clean eating.  But if you love it.. Then just go for it…  But you gotta love it, right??

I am not a vegan, I’m a human

I also get asked the same questions over and over about my food habits. I’m gonna share my answers with you here. You may have the same shock response that I often see on people’s faces when I declare the following…

  • I am not a vegan. 
  • I am not a raw food chef. 
  • I’m not a nutritionist or a raw foodie. 
  • I’m not a meat eater.

And….  I don’t hate dairy. I am not a health professional nor am I a food nazi.  I don’t understand nutritional science, and I don’t care what health benefits are in an avocado, Fact! (I just bloody love them and they love me back)

I am just a simple woman, a mum, a lover, a businesswoman, a best friend to my friends and a godmother to one special little girl. I am a human who loves to eat all types of edible plants with a bit of dairy here and there, eggs and honey, that’s about it. OH and chocolate ice cream!! Simple!

And I am truly truly blessed to have the option of eating as many meals a day if I choose. By that I mean I’m not starving, there is availability of food to me, an abundance of choice, and that there is a gifted in itself.

Clean Eating Doesn’t Mean You’re Healthy

“Clean eating” can hurt, yep it can and it hurts my heart the perception of people pointing their finger at another with a comment, ”Look they are healthy because their eyes are white”, they are really a pure clean eater”. How intimidating is that? Shaming others about what they look like, or how they should look, eat or don’t eat, blend or don’t blend, juice or not juicing. I find it’s selfish, inconsiderate and not ok to think that one is greater than another based on their looks or the perception of who we think they are.

And at times I have been in this very world and have been told “wow chef” you look so healthy. “Based on what, I asked?” ….How do we know one is healthy? We have no idea what goes on inside their body, or their genetics. We assume we know as we see their food pics splatted all over social media that we have sort of direct insight into how healthy they are.

I said these exact words to a group that came to see me talk, and what I observed was insightful.  150 beautiful humans were in the room, and some were in tears. They looked like they had a re-birthing and some stood up and yelled out THANK YOU! Thank you for this moment Chef, as I just was about to go home and throw out all my grains and so ons….

The Pressure Of Clean Eating Is Unhealthy

The pressure of “clean eating” alone, is enough to make us unhealthy. I don’t associate with clean eating, I associate with NATURE. Food with low interference, minimal processing as close to nature as intended.. I find the “clean eating” world harsh on the learners of change, transformation, and the beginners who want a turn to whole real food eating. I hear the stories of humans wanting to give it a go, but find it hard trying to understand the health benefits of what nutritional science is telling us the eater, which is constantly giving us the home cooks, a run for our buck! All this judgment comes into things, which is not healthy either.

Even worse is the confusion of trends that change so rapidly. When I speak to groups I find an overall sense of stress around what ingredients to use. One day were are told a particular ingredient is great and that we should use it more often, but then a few weeks later the same people are telling us that it’s toxic and that we shouldn’t cook so much with it. WTF!?

Why Does Clean Eating Give Grains A Bad Rap?

As I go on cheffing in my studio, I wind up my day making dinner for myself and Scott (fried rice). Mmmmmm It’s Scott’s favourite, and of course I love it too. I start cooking and my mind wonders of to the new diets that have come to this time and I think about how grains are now the worst enemy to a “clean eater”.  A grain so simply named RICE that has been a staple food for thousands to years, that you can find in any home kitchen, poor or wealthy. Every day kitchens don’t have a voice any more, mums around the world are being told nutritional science has now decided what’s not good to eat at this time. And grains are the ones that get a BAD POISON or TOXIC rap.

And as for me living in Bali, Indonesia surrounded by the “bad poison toxic” grain RICE, I am reminded of my surrounding and the culture and friends i have made over the years all eat rice..

I look out to the RICE paddies in which so many types of species of rice are growing. The many colours that roll down the most picturesque views that you can only imagine on a post card. It’s just spectacular to think of the wonder in the beauty of growing rice/food and the farmers that are harvesting their crop for home or for sale use.

I take an opportunity to feel into what it’s like to only have grains for food, and as I do so, I smile. I smile at the life I have lived with all the food that I eat, and have eaten. I feel totally blessed to know that RICE, that grain that is “toxic” to mankind is proudly placed in my kitchen. I smile because I know that I have purchased that rice, not because of what some ‘health guru’ has proclaimed, but because the families of Indonesia where I now live, have been growing rice for a VERY VERY very long time and they are some of the healthiest people I know.

Clean Eating Out, Nature In

The time is 6.30pm and I smile with the ease thinking about all my friends and clients and the people that I know. We all are doing ok, we all are loving our beautiful families, sharing a meal that serves us from the inside out, all form nature where we all originally came from.  I smile knowing that you and me, the home cooks, are inspired to cook and diets can stay away form our minds kitchens and hearts.

So that’s it people. In my kitchen it’s clean eating out the door, and Nature in the door… BOOM!

Bless you all…..I love you!

Chef xo

About the Author

Chef Cynthia Louise is an Internationally acclaimed MasterChef, speaker, author, restaurant consultant, teacher and television presenter in wholefood, dairy-free cooking.

She also has the worlds first online cooking classes focused on dairy-free plant-based whole foods with recipes that people are raving about and changing people's health, one delicious bite at a time.

Chef Cynthia loves nothing more than educating people about the simplicity and vitality of a plant-based, whole foods lifestyle. Each dish is like art on a plate and her flavour combinations nourish the soul and get everyone talking.

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