Tuesday Food Day: Don’t Talk to Me about “Clean Eating”

Last week was bananas. (In case you missed it, America’s Finest News Source has an apt summary.) Personally, a hectic week and weekend caught up to me last night. After several days of overtime, overnights, a 24-hour last minute #whynot #YOLO trip to Chicago, two 6am flights, and a standard Monday at work, I came home to an apartment resembling the End Times (thanks to the fact that I’ve completed NONE loads of laundry in recent history) and collapsed into bed at eight o’clock.

And I slept.

And it was good.

I didn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t cross anything off my to-do list, and I didn’t run, even though my legs could have used a few recovery miles. I recovery slept instead.

Today I feel better, like I’m pressing reboot. When I do that, sometimes it helps to focus on how I’m feeding the lean, mean, fighting machine that is My Amazing Body.

PSYCH. My bod is average to the bone, but sometimes (occasionally… rarely…), I try to treat it like I’m preserving the Palace of Versailles. Or the type of body worthy of leg insurance to the tune of a couple milli.

Or at least the type of body that wants to run a few miles tomorrow and not feel like a lethargic pile of goo while doing it.

This DNF brought to you by Velveeta.

So let’s talk food! People love food. I love food. You love food. Runners go ape shit over food. I think we should talk about it, maybe all the time, but at least on Tuesdays. Because that is the day of the week that best rhymes with Food Day. I guess I could be alliterative and suggest Friday Food Day, but that would make too much sense, and I already started this, and today is Tuesday, so go write your own alliterative blog and make it cleverer than mine.

Shouldn’t be hard.

I’m going to kick off Tuesday Food Days with something negative, because I do what I want, and tell you about a food-related term that I really dislike. Loathe. With the fire of a thousand suns. Are you ready for it?

“Clean eating.”



Get it away from me.

I hate “clean eating” for a very simple reason. What’s the opposite of clean? Dirty. So apparently, if I’m not eating “clean,” I’m eating dirty. (Dirtily? English is hard.) Not only am I doing it wrong, I’m a dirty person.

That is a lot of pressure, and since my head is already a dark and twisty place, I reject it.

Yes, Mer. Yes I am.

For most of us, it is probably a tall enough order to feed, clothe and bathe ourselves regularly. Some of you have to do all that AND manage it for other, smaller people too. Holy time management skills, am I impressed. (I’m talking to you, mamas and papas — I know you’re tired; try to keep up.)

Let’s be clear. This list represents my understanding of foods that don’t fall into the “clean eating” category:

  • Anything fried
  • Anything processed
  • Anything with cheese
  • Anything with milk
  • Anything with alcohol
  • Anything with sugar
  • Anything with sugar substitutes
  • Anything white
  • Anything enriched
  • Anything with multiple ingredients
  • Anything with ingredients I can’t pronounce
  • Anything in a box
  • Anything in a can
  • Everything on my plate

Have you guys been to a grocery store? These suggestions are like a f$%ked-up version of What Not to Wear where the horrifically appalling wardrobe is my kitchen pantry, and Stacy London is throwing out my perfectly good bag of Tostitos with the tags still on it.

I get the concept of “clean eating,” I really do, and I’m not against the food choices it promotes. Personally, I like this quote from Michael Pollan, which I think encapsulates a similar approach:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

There is no asterisk to add “and p.s., feel guilty for eating a cupcake.”

Do we really need pressure to eat “clean”? Do we really want to call ourselves and our food “dirty,” like it’s something shameful if it’s been cooked or combined? Do we want that idea rolling around in our heads, when we already know well and good a healthy choice when we see one?

NAY, I say.

Relevant side note: my friend baked cake batter blondies this weekend, and they were out.of.control. How have I survived 25 years on Earth without them? One of the world’s great mysteries.

Back to the batter at hand (see what I did there? I slay me).

I hereby propose that we — that’s a collective we; I need all speakers of English to band together on this if we are ever going to be able to stop considering cupcakes “dirty,” and that is a cause we can all get behind — hereby do away with the term “clean eating.” Let’s fuel Our Amazing Bodies instead with food that is energizing, delicious, and nutrient-dense. And sometimes food that just tastes good. These foods are neither clean nor dirty, and the same goes for you and me.

Okay, maybe just you. I ran two hours ago, and I have yet to shower.

Real talk.


3 thoughts on “Tuesday Food Day: Don’t Talk to Me about “Clean Eating”

  1. I try really hard to avoid crap food. But I’m not going to beat myself over a cookie. I guess I understand the motivation behind the clean eating movement, but I hope I can do the same with a healthy diet without the crazies.

    • That is exactly what I’m saying! The concept of whether or not your food is “clean” contributes little. The guilt tied to an “unclean” choice seems a slippery slope to a negative/detrimental attitude on food and nutrition.

  2. Pingback: Failing to Plan and the PENN RELAYS CARNIVAL | Pokey McGee

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