Of of all the things the younger generation, the so called ‘Millenials’, could do to rebel, who would have thought that eating healthy food would be high up on the list? How dare they turn their backs on junk food and bad health? Who said they could have a conscience, want to save the environment and animals? It’s like Edina and Patsy in Ab Fab looking as Saffi and wondering where they went wrong? How dare they be so good?
Stories are regularly appearing in the media about the dangers of ‘clean eating’. Attention grabbing headlines claim the younger generation are enslaved to the fashionable myth of super-healthy food, in peril of becoming malnourished and even mocked for eating real food as opposed to prefabricated rubbish. And it’s not just the tabloids; an article in last weekend’s Guardian ridiculed the desire to eat baked sweet potato as opposed to a processed potato waffle. Surely the healthier choice should be supported, not mocked?
But what is really happening? Despite it’s well known dangers and drawbacks, I believe that social media is empowering young people to become super-aware of what is going on in the world, enabling them to question what they are told as ‘fact’, what is real and deciding what is right and wrong. If you’re in the next generation up, it’s good to know what is out there yourself, to enable you to have a level and balanced discussion with your off-spring. Having an open mind is a good thing!
Of course the internet brings it’s own dangers; these are the negatives that hit the headlines. Young minds are impressionable. I have come across teens who believe they can survive on juice alone for ever more. Or who follow ‘Banana Girl’ who claims to eat up to 50 bananas a day. Neither is sustainable or healthy. And using the term ‘clean’ when it comes to healthy food does imply that others are dirty or ‘bad’. It’s certainly not terminology I ever use – apart from anything else, a bit of dirt can actually be good for us, but that’s another story!
What about the positives? Awareness of issues in the food industry, the environment, in the world as a whole – is that not good?
There is no denying that eating disorders remain a big issue; many media scare stories are blaming ‘clean’ eating. But this isn’t a new story. The deeply embedded and complex psychological problems that lead to serious eating disorders have always been an issue. A multitude of triggers can affect this terrible condition. The ‘modern world’ is always being blamed, whether it’s skinny models, skinny jeans, peer pressure, exam stress (and that was just when I was a teen back in the 80’s). One of my school friends turned orange from eating only carrots. That wasn’t due to ‘clean eating’. That was because she was ill. Blaming a popular movement is looking outside the real issue, not the actual cause. It makes me wonder about the true purpose of media scare stories……..
Move away from the headlines, and what do you find? Lots of science that backs up the claims that eating a mainly whole food plant based diet is the best way to stay healthy and fit. Is it really that radical or surprising that eating lots of vegetables and whole foods, i.e.: real food, is a good thing? And if you happen to have already picked up one or more of the chronic health problems that are connected to poor ‘lifestyle’ choices, or have food intolerances or allergies, then guess what – a plant based diet can even help reverse the problems. To see how much of a difference it can make, check out Dr Micheal Gregor’s great book How Not to Die!
And if you think that eating a whole food plant based diet is restrictive or boring, then have a look at my recipes – there’s nothing boring there! They’re also family-tested, and real too! No risk of malnourishment in my kitchen. There will be more coming soon in my book The Sensitive Foodie. Or if you want to get in the know right now, then come on one of my Eat Well Live Well courses to find out more.
As to all the negative stories in the press, I would take it with a pinch of (Himalayan?) salt! Let’s support our Millennials just a bit more, and join in the fun. And if you’re worried about your young person eating too many veg, just embarrass them in public by snapping your lunch and posting it on Instagram. They’ll be heading for the sex, drugs and rock and roll before you know it!