A Radical Defence of the Balanced Diet

Label's founder, Jo Boon, discusses the 'clean-eating' trend, its flaws and the importance of a balanced diet.

Every month there seems to be some new fitness or dieting trend that obsesses social media for a few weeks before fading away for the latest fad and, of course, the latest thing you need to spend money on. Dieting is a multi- billion-dollar industry and trends are what keep the profits ticking over. The big question though is: do they actually work? Well, for the most part, no.

The biggest trend, one that has stuck around in different forms for a fair old while now, is the trend of ‘clean eating.’ Despite there being little scientific evidence to support the benefits of so- called clean eating, and lots of evidence to suggest there is harm in depriving your body of lots of things it needs, the industry keeps on growing.

I can see the appeal; people like to feel that they are doing something to maximise health, they like to belong and there is a real sense of community around the clean-eating trend, and other dieting fads. The industry is mainly, although by no means exclusively, targeting itself at cis- female, white, middle class women who share gorgeous looking photos of food on clear white backgrounds and/or shots of them smiling serenely and looking flawless. Who wouldn’t be tempted? If you follow this trend you will be part of this group, lose weight, which means looking prettier, which means being happier - right? Wrong. If cracking the code for healthiness and happiness were this simple we would all be living pretty straightforward lives.

The reality, however, is that dieting is hard, and finding happiness even more so. Depending on the extent to which you take it, there are real dangers to ‘clean eating’, and a balanced diet is a far better way to stay healthy. If you want to lose weight, first ask yourself these two questions: Do I really need to? And; why do I want to? You do not owe anyone but yourself an answer to these questions and there is very seldom a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, but it is worth asking yourself them before diving in.

If you do want to lose weight, or simply maintain the weight you are at, then the best thing you can do for your body is to have a balanced diet. You do not need to cut anything out entirely, or eat mountains of one particular food, you just need to be sensible. Go back to basics, look at the food pyramid and think about what you need. Sure, if you want to lose weight then you probably need to cut back on certain fats and carbohydrates and reduce your portions slightly, but this does not mean cutting them completely. The extremity of a lot of dieting trends is unhealthy.

We have come to link being slender with being virtuous - these two things are not connected and never have been. Everyone has a different shape and size that they settle at naturally and that is typically where we stay; it is difficult to lose weight after that point. Food is about staying healthy, giving your body what it needs and, if you are anything like me, having fun with what you make. Rather than focusing on dieting, trends, and looking a certain way, we need to shift the focus back on to being healthy. Having a balanced diet may sound terribly old fashioned, but it works.