The fear that has been created by the media over gluten and sugar has probably fuelled all of this (unnecessary and unsupported paranoia) over the presence of gluten and sugar in our diet. In fact Jamie Oliver has a show documenting the effects of excess sugar in our diet showing on Thursday 3rd September and sugar has been now labelled as the world’s most dangerous poison; 20 years ago fat was considered the most dangerous with sales of butter and lard declining due to the high percentage of saturated fat present.
However the media have recently changed their message and scientific evidence suggested that saturated fats were good for us. Take the avocado, a fruit incredibly high in fat; sales of this fruit have increased fourfold in America since 2000. And it seems they cannot get enough of them with the increasing popularity of Latin American food there. This confusion no doubt has annoyed the general public, there seems to be no end to the media’s constant oscillating messages.
But there are concerns from experts about eliminating certain food groups from our diet, especially in young children. The UK-based charity Sense About Science, who work to diffuse the “dodgy science” and correct it, have said that “parents were risking leaving their children malnourished by restricting their diets in order to deal with perceived health problems.” Moreover Sian Porter, a member of the British Dietetic Association (BDA) says that “if people do not plan really carefully for substitutes for food groups then you can end up malnourishing yourself”. The evidence is clear, these diets where you exclude certain food groups might leave you skinnier but in the long term can leave you unwell.
And the fact is everything on the Eatwell Plate has a purpose in our body; carbohydrates provide energy, fruits and vegetables provide us with much needed vitamins and minerals, proteins are needed for muscle growth and repair, dairy provides us with calcium and fat helps to maintain the core body temperature, they are all there for a reason.
Additionally, it’s no secret that with the increased attention that excluding food groups gets in the media, there comes a dark hidden side to it all. Doctors have reported a rise in the number of patients who have removed certain food groups from their diet based on what they have seen in the media and the term “healthy eating” has simply become the justification. On websites which favour anorexia, there are forums on the topics that Woodward, Hemsley and Freer champion; one such forum about chia seeds, it is rumoured that someone commented that chia seeds are “really helping with hunger [because] when they get into your stomach, they absorb the water and expand, making you feel full.”
I mustn’t be the only one who is slightly frightened having read this. The way that people see healthy food is no longer about the health benefits they bring to your body, of which chia seeds have many such as fibre, antioxidants, and protein. It has become twisted in its portrayal. Now I’ll be honest, the first time I tried chia seeds, I was sceptical but I was won over by the chia seed pudding. However I didn’t go out and buy 5kg and make them the staple of my diet. And that’s simply because I wouldn’t feel too happy eating them all the time. Sally from Sal’s Kitchen sees the power in the eternal phrase “everything in moderation”, calling it “The Only Diet Tip You’ll Ever Need”.
So you might be wondering where I stand on the original question, which was “to what extent has this clean/healthy eating become another food trend? Do ‘healthy’ cooks like the ones named above create a false illusion on living a healthy lifestyle; is there more to “healthy eating” than spiralising courgettes?”
Let’s tackle the first part. I think it started as a food trend and one of the most popular ones there was. As it grew in popularity, people started to make their own decisions and some of them weren’t too favourable. Yet the figureheads of Woodward, Hemsley and Freer have most definitely proven it’s more than a trend and it’s a lifestyle change. But diet is not the only way to living a healthy lifestyle, as my friend James Osborne, who studies A-Level Physical Education, comments.
“Living a healthy lifestyle is entirely a two way balance between eating a balanced diet and getting sufficient levels of exercise. The idea of an energy balance comes into this; a positive energy balance is when a person consumes more calories than they expend on a regular basis and this leads to weight gain. The way people lose weight is by having a neutral or negative energy balance meaning they burn off more calories than they eat.”
It is nothing more complicated than that. That is the way to living a healthy lifestyle. This message forms the foundations of healthy living. Experts have noted the possible dangers of eliminating certain food groups from our diet in the long term and for the figureheads of healthy eating, they have been a few errors in their reasoning scientifically.
But obviously we cannot fault their amazing work in creating their brands and raising awareness of how easy it is to exclude sugar and gluten from our diets, making it a hell of a lot easier than it would have been 20 years ago. There are literally recipes for every single kind of free-from, for those who have a genuine illness or for those that make the choice to be healthier and this can only be a good thing.
And regarding the last question, yes there is. We shouldn’t need to make fancy shapes out of vegetables and they are so underrated both in terms of their nutritional benefits and their taste.
I know this has been a lengthy post but I think it’s important we clarify the facts. I’m sure some of you are raging inside to respond to something I’ve said so the comments below here are your chance to say what you think!
- Raw Cacao, Ella Woodward – http://deliciouslyella.com/products-love-raw-cacao/
- Ali Imdad – https://twitter.com/AliImdadBakes
- Cate in the Kitchen – http://cateinthekitchen.co.uk/
- About Time Magazine interview – http://www.abouttimemagazine.co.uk/life/about-time-you-met-gizzi-erskine/
- Loriley Sessions – http://www.lorileysesh.com/
- Grains, Hemsley + Hemsley – http://www.hemsleyandhemsley.com/h-h-on-grains/
- The Eatwell Plate – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/eatwell-plate.aspx
- The Only Diet Tip You’ll Ever Need, Sal’s Kitchen – http://salskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-only-diet-tip-you-need.html
- Clean Eating is Worse than just a Silly Fad – http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9612872/why-clean-eating-is-worse-than-just-a-silly-fad/