Don’t you just hate it when someone not only jumps on your bandwagon but snatches the reins and takes it to a destination you don’t want to be?
For years I’ve been banging the saucepan about cooking from scratch using seasonal produce, eating much more veg and devouring much less meat. I was sprouting seeds back in the days when it was the domain of self-sufficient drop-outs embracing alternative lifestyles and I banned margarine from the house as a hydrogenated health hazard long before experts decided butter was no longer a bad thing.
I rode the years of low-fat advice with scepticism and a mantra of ‘all things in moderation’
I rode the years of low-fat advice with scepticism and a mantra of ‘all things in moderation’.
Okay, that my fine meals are usually accompanied by a few glasses of nicely chilled sauv blanc knocks my health guru halo a bit skew whiff but I can live with that.
I think I’m reasonable about it all but family and friends, with careful diplomacy, say I can get a bit ‘over enthusiastic’ when I get up on my veg box and start talking about anything from the environmental impact of beef cattle to the benefits of having a ‘rainbow’ of vegetable colours on your plate.
Which is surprising because I tend to keep some of my more extreme ideas to myself - anyone else think making it a criminal offence to give fizzy drinks to under 10s could be goer?
However, I began to get a feeling of unease a few years back when Gwyneth Paltrow started to espouse on “eating clean”. What was a faint, distant tinkling from Gwynnie in California has since become a crescendo as the latest trend comes crashing into our kitchens.
Books with titles such as ‘Clean Eating for Busy Families’, ‘Eating Clean for Dummies’ and ‘The Eat Clean Diet’ are all the rage, clogging up the bookshelves as they endeavour to unclog our arteries.
You’d think I would be delighted with all this wisdom backing up what I’ve been saying all along but I’m not.
My beliefs about eating ourselves healthy in a bid to stop being a nation that is over-fed but under-nourished have been hijacked by the diet industry as the latest way to make money from desperate people hungry for a miracle fix.
My big problem with the ‘clean eating’ movement is that many of its shiny, happy advocates are really saying “I’m better than you”. If you don’t eat clean, you’re dirty and a bad person. (Not all - if you’re looking to dip a toe in, check out cleanfooddirtygirl.com, though not if you’re easily offended by colourful language).
Before we know it, it will have percolated down into the mainstream and fast food joints will be cherry-picking what they can from the clean eating ethos to add a guise of good-eating to their menus while they continue serving up fat, salt and sugar.
I fear that all the proven good things about ‘clean eating’ - cutting out processed foods, eating more wholefoods and piling on the veg - will be swept aside when the next diet trend takes over. At which point I may just take my bowl of brown rice, bean sprouts and home-made chilli sauce and head for the hills.