A backlash against the clean eating trend is coming, linking it to unhealthy eating habits.
However critics often target a straw man version of clean eating, which risks ignoring the ways clean labels can improve diets and misses the underlying drivers which lead to medical conditions such as anorexia.
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Doctor and television host Christian Jessen recently courted controversy in the UK by comparing clean eating brands such as Deliciously Ella and so-called fitspirational blogs to pro-anorexia sites.
In a speech at a school, Jessen criticised wellness brands for focusing on looks and not health.
At its core, clean eating prizes cooking food from scratch and avoiding processed foods.
This has many health benefits, encouraging consumers to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and reduce the number of prepared meals and processed snack foods consumed.
At a time when obesity rates remain high, these goals are to be commended.
The clean eating movement does need to beware being hijacked by extreme dieters.
However critics are targeting issues that are not exclusive to clean eating.
Celebrities have long endorsed dubious scientific advice, whilst extreme diets promising miracles if you cut out a specific food group aren’t new either.
Social media remains a concern for mental health, especially among teenagers and young adults, with its potential for online bullying and unrealistic portrayals of lifestyles driving stress and anxiety.
None of these issues would be solved if the clean eating movement ceased to exist and these issues will remain long after the fashion for clean label ends.
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The clean eating movement is not helped by the fact that many consumers don’t know what it means.
GlobalData research has found that almost one in three people don’t know what the term clean label means, while 40 percent associate it with being free from artificial ingredients, and 37 percent say it means being organic or natural.
Clean eating remains a strong opportunity for food and drink brands, and we will see more companies launch products for this audience.
However it won’t hurt brands to emphasise body positive lifestyles in their promotional materials for clean label products.
As clean label booms in popularity the central message should be one of vitality and balanced eating, and not just cutting out the latest trending bad ingredient.