Image: Fried Dough / Flickr
Image: Fried Dough / Flickr

Clean Eating: a bite too far?

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Over the past few years clean eating snaps have crowded our Instagram feeds and often made us feel pretty guilty for having that triple chocolate muffin at lunch. Social media promotes an environment where everyone we know is snacking on cacao energy balls and green juices, but is it really worth the hype?

Of course, it is always good to eat healthily and to not just scoff on cheesy chips or stress eat your way through 7 tubes of Pringles. But society’s new obsession with clean eating can really take things to the extreme, whilst simultaneously breaking your bank balance.

If you need the occasional mars bar to get you through that final Plato essay then just do it…

I’ve tried my fair share of clean eating fad diets. I’ll be inspired by a blogger and suddenly ditch the hobnobs and spend a ton on avocados and kale, only to inevitably fall off the bandwagon two days in and binge buy mini-eggs like the apocalypse is coming.

Being healthy, eating fruit, vegetables and getting exercise are all key to not getting ill and being productive. But if you need the occasional mars bar to get you through that final Plato essay then just do it. Society puts enough pressure on students as it is to get jobs, internships, and have single-handedly created an exciting start-up business before we turn 19, without adding only living off salad and soy lattes to the mix.

Personally I don’t really have the time to make my own granola from scratch, seeing as I can barely manage pasta and pesto most nights…

The big problem with clean eating is that it isn’t just a balanced diet of “everything in moderation”, it often seeks to cut out whole food groups like dairy. It is a fact of life that humans need a varied diet and unless you are taking every supplement under the sun it’s actually pretty difficult to eat clean and still get all the nutrients you need.

If you’re determined to stick to a clean diet as a student and still satisfy your daily intake of carbs, calories and fats you really have to put the hours in in the kitchen. Personally I really don’t have time to make my own granola from scratch, seeing as I can barely manage pasta and pesto most nights. When you’re juggling a degree, society commitments, a social life and possibly also a part-time job it’s hard to see where you will get the time to make a flan with roasted asparagus and artichoke heart.

As you reach for the pasta and not the quinoa maybe it’s time to accept clean eating as a passing fad…

The foods prescribed to us by fitness bloggers as “superfoods” and being essential for a clean diet often aren’t even affordable on a student budget. For a start a lot of the seeds and grains that are supposed to provide you with healthy fats on a clean diet are impossible to source, and are less economic than a bag of pasta from Tesco. Fundamentally, you don’t have to live of medjool dates and dried mango to be healthy. Clean eating isn’t the only way to have a balanced lifestyle, and while it may give you a great insta aesthetic, realistically your £100 Nutribullet will be gathering dust in the cupboard in two weeks.

As you reach for the pasta and not the quinoa maybe it’s time to accept clean eating as a passing fad.

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