The naked truth of clean eating

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Words: Clare Louise Roberts (She/Her)

Naked Eating is the latest health trend. Not to be confused with eating naked. The naked diet is about stripping back to simple eating for your health and the environment. It requires you to avoid processed foods, including most dairy and meat, focusing instead on whole, organic foods that are mostly raw. This includes meals such as the Naked Veggie bouquets. A whole bouquet of organic, raw vegetables (in this economy??) even if eating raw broccoli is hard to digest.

Aren’t all vegetables – by lack of human clothing – naked? Or is a carrot only naked after I peel it? It’s no secret that companies capitalise on sexual vocabulary to garner an appetite of desire in potential customers. To call meals ‘naked’ invites a provocative impression of the dish. It’s vulnerable to the elements with a side of “full-blaze confidence”. Yet, if a meal is so good for me, I don’t need it to be dressed up in marketing to be convinced. So why does this ‘wellness-focused’ trend believe that my food has to be doing The Full Monty before it’s worthy of my digestive system?

Yes, I’m eager to eat well because of the physical and mental benefits. A boost in energy and better sleep to improve my mood are all good reasons to have one less Greggs a week. But we’re students. We can’t afford avocado on toasted rye every day. Well, that’s ok, because avocados may have ‘good fats’ but they cause deforestation anyway…so no avocados for me.

It would be easy to ignore all of the advice being force-fed to us by nutritional influencers, passing it off as part of a “toxic diet culture”. But the truth is, these ideas take hold because originally, they do have a whole grain bit of truth to them. 

To debunk a few ‘clean eating’ myths:

  • Turmeric IS good for you. But adding pepper doesn’t make it better. Although it doesn’t hurt.
  • Celery does NOT have negative calories. Although it is very low in calories.

However, The Climate Crisis means that we need to consider the environmental impact of everything that we eat. To help tackle this, I cut back on dairy and meat. The thought of eating a cute little duck makes me want to cry anyway, so it doesn’t feel like a big sacrifice to reduce my carbon-eating footprint. I take soy milk in my coffee and stock up on chickpeas and tofu.

Someone should run a case study on the marketing campaigns for alternative milk, because no one runs a smear campaign quite like almond milk v soy milk. Almond milk: the Californian alternative that lowers your cholesterol thanks to its monounsaturated fatty acids. Suddenly, everyone is worried about the levels of oestrogen in soy milk, even though soy has a high amount of protein making it the only decent alternative to dairy. And unlike almond milk, it does not harm bees. The influencers are on the fence regarding which milk is best because the camps on each side are just too strong to mess with. So I switched to oat milk. And occasionally still use dairy.

These conflicting opinions mix until we’re not sure what should or shouldn’t be on our plates anymore. I once made a salad recipe that was chunks of raw carrot, celery, and spinach. No dressing. I didn’t want oil or mayonnaise, thinking it would be ‘unhealthy’. Do you know how tough chunks of raw carrots and celery are? I got three mouthfuls in before my jaw started to hurt and I had to buy a meal deal. Maybe I’m not cut out for the raw food life as much as I thought. 

Enforcing any strict diet does not benefit you if you suffer from disordered eating, such as being a picky eater or sensory issues over food. And where does the idea of ‘clean eating’ translate into cultures and cuisines across the world, which we enjoy here in the melting pot that is Glasgow? Is this concept around ‘clean food’ just another Western European notion of cleanliness that we really should have left behind in the colonial era? 

So stay calm if you cannot stomach a green juice cleanse every morning. You have that morning roll and coffee from the food hall. Enjoy it. Just make sure you can have some whole foods on your plate once a day, every day. And if you insist on having a veggie bouquet, then please cook some of the cruciferous vegetables first. Because our diets, like our studies and our nights out, are always going to be about balance. And eating fully clothed is optional.


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