The craze is led by the younger population that has grown up with public health messages such as the smoking ban, alcohol awareness and an emphasis on living well, as well as long. They are a much more health conscious generation as a whole. They also have unique pressures in terms of modern day life including intense competition for jobs as well as higher aspirations for dream career, this creates a need to perform better, have higher energy levels and the ability to cope with stress. Better diets help this by allowing a greater feeling of vitality. The rise of Instagram, Youtube, and Snapchat in the last 2-3 years have all played a major part in both creating an online community and celebrity wellness influencers. For most, it is a modern solution to a modern world.
#Cleaneaters focus on fitness too and generally tend to advocate sport, whether that be gyming, pilates, yoga, running, team sports, ballet barre, or a combination of all of these. Being healthy is integrated into all aspects of their life, from a social perspective both online and off, holidays, weekend activities whether that be taking part in events like tough mudder or yoga immersion workshops or attending festivals like Goodroots, Be:Fit or Yogaconnectsuk.
Their main driver and inspiration is about feeling good. If you feel the benefits from eating a nutrient dense diet, it is a strong motivator to continue. If something doesn’t work, it usually doesn’t last long. The fact that healthy eating is so big and growing is because it makes a tangible difference to people’s everyday lives. Community plays a big part too with social media enabling people to find inspiration and support from around the world.
Recently there has been a backlash against the #cleaneater, relating it to disordered eating habits. As with any movement that is mostly positive, there will be some people who misunderstand, abuse or take things too far. The rise of orthorexia is a worrying trend, although it is important to remember EDs are psychological diseases that have their roots in place no matter the physical expression i.e. if someone has ED, expression of that will come in one form or another, whether that be anorexia, food or exercise bulimia or orthorexia. That said, using the cover of clean eating is something that should not be accepted and we should all be vigilant of with friends, family and online. The vast majority of the industry is about creating positive relationships with food, sending a firm message of ‘balance’. At VITL, for example, we have a philosophy that good nutrition is about crowding in good foods and habits, rather than focusing on cutting things out.