Eat dirty.

It seems like the latest trend in dieting is Eating Clean.  Capital E, Capital C.

Disclaimer: I’ve read none of the Eat Clean books.  From what I understand, the plan seems pretty great–eat lots of complex carbs, veggies, fruits, legumes, organic dairy, et cetera.  All things I like.  I’m sure Tosca Reno is a nice lady.

(Source.)

But for the life of me, the phrase “Eat Clean” makes me want to go on a stabbing rampage.

Why?

Clean.  What’s the opposite of clean?  Dirty.  Dirty is bad, and shameful, and wrong, and lurks in vans with candy and chloroform.

My completely unscientific opinion is that women, especially those who are seeking out “diets” (the original book is entitled The Eat Clean Diet, so obviously, gonna attract dieters), are guilty enough about food.   We stash the ice cream under the bananas in the shopping cart.  We never clean our plates in public and compare our plates to the other women at the table.  If you’re like me, you raid the fridge when your significant other is away.  (Not anymore.  But I did.)

Calling it The Eat Clean Diet means that when you’re not eating the recommended foods, you’re dirty.  And bad.  And doing it wrong.  Hey, awesome, let’s throw another complex on the pile of women’s various psychological hang-ups!

Why do we need to place a qualifier on foods?  Good, bad, clean, dirty, healthy, unhealthy.  They’re all food.  There’s a time and place for all of them.  Even the Double Down.  Yes, we should eat more vegetables than Twinkies.  But should we skip the Twinkies altogether if we find them delicious and really enjoy them?  NO.

I also think that the “clean” versus “dirty” distinction smacks of…arrogance, maybe?   (Note: I’m not saying that people who eat clean are arrogant.)  What I AM saying, though, is that someone saying “I eat CLEAN” to me would automatically make me think “Yikes, I must eat DIRTY then” and feel all self-conscious and whatnot.   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–there is absolutely NOTHING dirty, wrong, or shameful about eating a slice of apple pie made with real butter, sugar, and apples.

My objection is this–do we need to go there?  Why can’t this be called “The Back to Basics Diet” or “Don’t Eat Things You Cannot Pronounce”?  What do we GAIN from these terms?

What do you think?

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17 Responses

  1. I am a huge supporter of the idea of “clean eating.” I always thought of it as eating pure/from the earth/unprocessed foods as opposed to not eating dirty. I try to follow the premise of the diet as often as possible, but don’t consider it a diet so much as a lifestyle.
    The recipe books are pretty awesome, but many of the recipes require ingredients that many people may have never heard of. They could definitely make the cookbooks more accessible to a wider audience and manageable on the wallet!

  2. Brie, this post is awesome! While I greatly appreciate the notion of eating “clean” most of the time, I absolutely HATE the phrase “clean eating.” I actually could never quite put my finger on why I hated it so much until I read this post; you hit the nail on the head! I completely agree that the phrase itself implies that eating otherwise is “dirty” and “wrong” and should induce feelings of guilt. And like you said, we have enough of that! Really awesome post!

  3. I think it’s all about marketing. In order to get people to be excited about the “newest” diet they have to come across like all other approaches to food are worse. Kinda like the bully in the school yard that puts others down to establish his or her dominance.

  4. I think “eating clean” didn’t bother me in the beginning but its starting to grate on my nerves mostly because of the people behind it.
    Its great that “they” eat clean and all but suddenly it has developed a snobbish tone and I understand what you mean about feeling like you are doing something wrong.
    Am I wrong because I use jar spaghetti sauce because I work 45hrs a week and have a farm to take care of, NO. But there are days I feel like its a sin to open a box or jar to shorten my day by a few hrs.

  5. It does sound better to say eat simple or whole vs. eat clean – I definitely use the term mean the same thing. I wish that there was not shame or guilt associated with food or working out for me – but it is a part of my life and I try to work around it. I hate feeling I’ve been “good” or “bad” based on my eatting or exercise. My WW leader made a great comparison – when it rains, we say the weather is bad. But it’s still a day! A day we’re lucky to be alive and able. So even when I’ve been “bad” and ate “dirty” I try to remind myself, it’s still a day. And hopefully it won’t be a rainy day tomorrow.

  6. I have that book and I LOVE the magazine. However I have to agree that people who follow the plan religiously are a bit condecending and the book does make it sound like you’ll die tomorrow if you eat a jar of Ragu. Plus the chapter on dining out should be titled “How to get restaurant staffers to spit in your food or worse”.

    It’s good advice but I follow it in moderation. I figure that if in the past I ate fast food 24/7 and now I eat it a couple times a month then that’s progress! Plus I rarely turn down dessert!

  7. That’s a really interesting take on it. I hadn’t thought about it too much but you’re right. I like the “everything in moderation” program instead. 🙂 That includes “dirty ice cream” on occasion! 🙂

  8. Amen, sista. Amen.

    🙂

  9. I really love this post. Thank you.

    I follow the everything in moderation diet. Brussels sprouts and Giant Nerds candy in the same day? Sure thing.

  10. This post was amazing, you clearly state that it is okay to eat something “dirty” like a twinkie. Why should we discipline ourselves from eating something we do like? We do not need to eat it all the time, but a twinkie a month will not kill us. AWESOME BLOG LADY!! *high five*

  11. Agreed! I love reading your blog because you’re not afraid to say things like this. Go Brie!

  12. I couldn’t agree more!

  13. Great thoughts. Like you said….the plan itself sounds awesome, but the name isn’t the best. Recently my mom told me that my cousin has been “eating clean” for the past 5 months (I later learned she was following this diet plan) and hearing that really put me off. Can’t we just say she’s been “eating well”? I know it’s just semantics, but stil…

  14. […] Eat Dirty – The Fit Bride […]

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