The Selfie Diet Clean eating - you're doing it all wrong
You’ve probably seen the millions of #cleaneating shots clogging up your social media feed, full of brightly coloured ingredients, beautifully styled and photographed, that simultaneously make you feel nauseous and jealous at the same time.
When it comes to clean eating, the term seems to shape shift every day depending on who’s doing the talking or ‘influencing’.
But just because we’re dousing our food in coconut oil or steering clear of carbs, doesn’t mean we’re eating and cooking 100% clean.
Anthia Koullouros, Sydney based naturopath from OVViO Organics, believes the rise of Instagram has actually resulted in us changing our perception of food, for the worse.
“While there are a lot of new fangled foods in the market place, unfortunately thanks to social media, food has become fashionable and a conduit to gain notoriety and fame – the way it’s styled now matters more than what’s in it, how it’s made or where it’s sourced from,” says Koullouros.
Be honest, each time you artfully post a food photo before eating it, do you ever ask yourself this: is it for fashion or fuel?
Koullouros says while traditionally the focus on food has been about weight loss it’s now driven by aesthetic intentions – losing sight of its most fundamental aspect.
“Food is now on heat – it’s about over the top colour, ingredients and presentation. Smoothie bowls are filled with overflowing ingredients that are hard to attain and expensive and the recipes are too time consuming to prepare,” says Koullouros. “Eating this way every day doesn’t supply our body with the nutrition we need. It isn’t balanced, but rather a way to treat yourself with pretty, sweet foods.”
Koullouros calls this new way of eating the ‘Selfie Diet’ – “Instead of eating considerately for our body, it’s become about eating for personal gratification,” she says.
And it’s unfortunately leaving us blind sighted. Instead of knowing what goes into our bodies, we take branding labels as the be-all.
“Some-time or naughty foods are so easily presented as healthy food,” says Koullouros.
“Desserts and treats are a key example – people think they’re fine if they are sugar, dairy and gluten alternatives. But sugar is sugar – whether it comes from fresh or dried fruit, honey or other sweeteners.”
Koullouros believes while we have managed to move away from processed foods now considered sugary, we’ve evolved to eating new forms of sugar and grown intolerances for things we didn’t used to.
“When we eat too much of one thing we can produce an intolerance and nutritional imbalance – five minutes ago we were highly allergic to nuts now nuts have now replaced flour and milk,” says Koullouros.
And intolerances aren’t the only war on food we’re creating. Bodypass nutritionist Rachael Javes also believes in striving for the ‘clean eating ideal’ we’re becoming nutritionally deficient – losing vital energy sources.
“Fad diets such as low carb, 5:2, juice fasting and even veganism are causing nutritional deficiencies that can ultimately result in poorer health long term,” says Javes. “Women need to be mindful of dietary choices and adapt their diet according to their hormonal cycle – as energy levels can also be hugely impacted if macro nutrient intake is not balanced.”
Instead, the experts suggest we should go back to basics. Think paddock to plate – minus the pretty packaging.
“We are omnivores – we’re evolved to eat both well sourced and well prepared plants and animals, grown and raised on or in rich nutritious soil, seasonally and locally,” says Koullouros.
Javes also agrees and says we should go for what’s most naturally sourced.
“Clean eating is simple – eat as close to how nature intended, fresh, unprocessed and organic. Forget juice this, raw that, paleo and vegan – just make things from scratch,” says Javes.
Bannie Williams, a Melbourne-based nutritionist also firmly believes we need to be more intuitive to our body and sense of self.
“Instagram can be a source of inspiration but it also causes people to doubt their own instincts of what they ‘should and shouldn’t’ be eating,” says Williams. “Clean eating needn’t be a strict/rigid way of life that involves excluding food groups – simply focus on eating a diet that works for your body.”
So strip it back, can the ‘gram and get focused on food for fuel. Read on for the experts top clean eating rules.
Clean eating, stripped bare
1. Buy organic fruit and veg
“This is food that is chemical free and abundant in nutrients. Organic also means food that is genetically modified free,” says Koullouros.
2. Choose colour
“In order to get all of your phytonutrients you need to eat a range of colours daily such as berries, beetroot, corn, cauliflower, kale, collard, carrots and tomatoes,” says Javes.
3. Fuel up on fermented
“Fermented foods such as kimichi, kombucha, yoghurt, kefir, naturally support digestive health. Our digestive system is responsible for everything from our moods to immune to making our skin glow,” says The Healthy Chef, Teresa Cutter.
4. Purchase quality meat
“Eat wild seafood and pastured or grass fed beef, lamb, pork and chicken – they’re packed with healthy omega 3 fats and proteins (versus grain fed animals that have higher omega 6 – which is more inflammatory),” says Koullouros. “Plus the nutritional density is higher in healthy raised animals with no chemical intervention – and it’s a kinder way of eating.”
5. Cut processed food
“Eat foods that are as unprocessed as possible, even when it comes to oats – opt for the steel cut oats rather than the quick oats. The more processing, the lower the nutritional value the food will have,” says Javes.
6. Know your macros
“Work out what works for your body type by balancing your macronutrients – aka protein, fats and carbs. Some people have a higher tolerance to carbs than others. Tune into your body to work out keeps you fuller for longer and what causes you to crash mid afternoon,” says Javes.
7. Eat nose to tail foods
“By that I mean organs such as liver – they are incredibly nutrient dense (as long as it comes from a healthy animal) and the bones can make stock broths and soups. It also produces less waste,” says Koullouros.
8. Limit nuts, seeds and grains
“Eat smaller amounts of nuts, seeds, grains and beans and fuel up more on fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood. Generally speaking, nuts and seeds are industrialised foods that are exposed to genetic modification so when we eat them in their raw state they are full of phylates (which bind to our minerals and can contribute to mineral deficiencies). So before eating, make sure they are well prepared through soaking, sprouting, activation or fermenting. This enhances their nutrition and is easier on digestion,” says Koullouros.
9. Choose grains wisely
“Gluten is a common intolerance that can contribute to inflammation, pain, infection and autoimmune disease so try to limit where possible by eating rice or pseudocereals such as quinoa, buckwheat or amaranth,” says Koullouros.
10. Pick plant-based proteins
“Chia and seeds like pepitas are perfect to add to any brekkie or lunch as they’re full of protein, fats and omega 3’s,” says Javes.
11. Stock a range of oil options
“Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is the best all rounder for cooking – it’s rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids. Macadamia oil is great for salads and is packed with anti-inflammatory fat and monounsaturated oleic acids- good for the heart. Avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, protects against inflammation and cancer, reduces blood sugar and support cardiovascular, digestive and skin health. Lastly, coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, so it is antibacterial and antiviral and supports your immune system,” says Cutter.
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