Last summer I watched a documentary on clean eating – these were my thoughts on it!
A couple weeks back I watched the lovely Grace Victory’s BBC 3 documentary, Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets. You can watch it here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p040430l/clean-eatings-dirty-secrets?suggid=p040430l. (sorry it is no longer available)
It was a very worthwhile documentary and I thought it was excellent. Basically, it exposed certain blogger/vloggers for irresponsible posting and generally tried to open people’s eyes to the fact that what you read on the internet is anything but fact. The documentary focused on the latest fad ‘clean eating’; which can be described as eating healthy, whole unprocessed foods. Doesn’t sound too bad does it? However, in certain instances this gets taken to the extreme with many ‘nutritionists’ or ‘lifestyle bloggers’ advocating eliminating certain foods or ingredients from your diet with no scientific justification that this would be suitable for a given individual. And so, clean eating is now starting to be associated with orthorexia which google defines as ‘an obsession with eating food which one considers healthy’.
The first point that Grace makes is my favourite; and I was won over the second it came out of her mouth. ‘Are these people (bloggers) trained?’. Often the answer is no. And to be fair, some of them state this on their websites but people still believe that what they are preaching to be the truth. And do you know what? It may work for them; that’s fine. But each of us are individuals and there is no one size fits all with nutrition yet people still buy in (literally) to the lifestyle they’re selling – no questions asked.
Worse still, nutritionist isn’t a protected term meaning that the industry doesn’t control the quality of all the qualifications out there at the end of which you become a nutritionist! So even if you’re doing your very best and trying to seek advice from a professional the nutritionist you find may be qualified thanks to a £29.99 four week course off the internet. Grace demonstrates this nicely in the doc.
I just cannot get my head around people that trust people who aren’t trained. Would you let your next door neighbour do your accounts? Probably not. Or someone without a driving license drive you to work? No. Of course experience is very valuable and many people find what works for them simply through experimenting and that is fab. But we are talking about what you put into your body to fuel you for day to day life and long term health. Dieticians (they’re the ones you want) spend a significant amount of time becoming qualified to advise on diet; how on earth can someone with a piece of paper earned in four weeks have the same understanding.
Moral of the story: Check out the background of the person before you blindly follow their advice. Make a judgement on whether or not it comes from an evidenced place or is plain ridiculous e.g. the potato diet.
Anyway moving on…
In case you don’t know I myself am involved in the health and fitness industry. I am a qualified personal trainer and have also got degrees in sport science and exercise physiology. This documentary made me feel embarrassed to be practising as a personal trainer; my strapline #thekimfitway is supposed to recognise that overall wellness is the goal achieved through a lifestyle change rather than a strict diet/exercise regime. Whilst I do not consider myself a lifestyle blogger (I am not sure what type of blogger I am) I felt completely embarrassed to be in the same (or at least similar) bracket to the irresponsible bloggers who pedal such utter crap (see the potato/banana diet).
Throughout my degrees and vocational qualification as well as my experience as an elite athlete and high performance support staff I have acquired some knowledge of nutrition (I’d like to think better than your average persons). However, I am very generic and basic with the information I put out there because I know that I am not a dietician and therefore not qualified to be writing meal plans for people! I feel very conscious of the responsibility of putting information/advice out there on the internet when I blog or post as KimFit. I only wish others would feel the same way.
Anyway back to feeling embarrassed about being a ‘wellness’ advocate. There are tons of wellness advocates out there that I feel proud to be one of. So I’ve decided to focus on that. I am also proud to be promoting a balanced approach to health and fitness. My goals are to educate, empower and energise people towards a lifestyle that incorporates exercise and a balanced diet. There are tons of women out there who are doing a great job of creating informed content around eating and exercise for health and wellbeing. Carly Rowena, Zanna Van Dijk, Nicola Whitehead to name a few.
So I implore you. Before you embark on any change in diet (not just clean eating) stop and look at the source. Ask yourself, is in super restrictive? Is that necessary for you? Very few people actually need to cut out things such as gluten. Often you can avoid the symptoms with some simple changes e.g. fresh bread rather than packaged branded bread. Do you trust the source? Are they qualified? Of course, bloggers also hold a responsibility for their posts and I’d implore them to research their ideas, and uphold this responsibility.
Life is for living, not for depriving yourself. You can eat bread and still look fab. Or you can not eat bread and look fab. You can drink super shakes if you like them (and can afford to) or you can drink water to hydrate yourself post-workout. Dance if you like to dance, gym if you like to gym and run if you love to run. Do things because they make sense to you not because someone with 10,000 followers on Instagram says so and they have a six pack/glossy hair/book deal. Be you, make good choices.