So called ‘Wellness’ bloggers such as Ella Woodward and the Hemsley Sisters have turned the clean eating craze into an immensely profitable industry. Recently, this trend has attracted backlash, especially from medical experts. A recent BBC3 documentary also spoke out against the potentially dangerous health myths perpetuated by these bloggers. In light of this, Ellie Golding gives her verdict on the clean eating and wellness trend, and how following it may not leave you as ‘well’ as these bloggers profess.
Whether you are a part of it or not there is no getting around the fact that the wellness, or ‘clean eating’ movement is only going to play a bigger and bigger part in the way people, particularly our generation, eats and lives. Even Nigella, the queen of ultimate indulgence, has jumped on the wellness band waggon lead by the likes of Ella Woodward, Madeline Shaw and the Hemsley Sisters.
I, like many others, have bought into the idea that chia seeds, matcha lattes and smoothie bowls will make me a better, happier and healthier person. Unfortunately, this romanticised, Instagram worthy lifestyle is only available to a lucky few. As it turns out, wellness costs a lot and takes real dedication. I struggle with the notion that “wellness” cannot be all inclusive and has become an industry ruled by the young and wealthy. Wellness and plant based eating is no longer the property of rainbow-painted cafés and middle-aged hippies; now it is the diet du jour, without the burden of admitting that you are on a diet.
I am in no position to preach about real wellbeing in spite of having tried hard to achieve it. I went from a regular smoothie drinking pilates and yoga doer to a heavy smoker and overly politicised vegan. Clearly, I have not found the balance. Lacking balance is something the wellness movement and I seem to have in common. To be a part of the lifestyle requires great discipline and those who do not employ said discipline at all times are made to feel as if they have ‘cheated’ or failed somehow. For me This does not bode well for a big part of the wellness community that is made up of people suffering or recovering from eating disorders. The title of wellness is an easy one for people suffering from deeper issues to uses to mask what is really going on.
Orthorexia is a newer and lesser known eating disorder that is rife among the wellness community. It stems from an obsession with eating only ‘clean’ or healthy foods and tends to lead to people becoming incredibly unwell after restricting or cutting essential food groups out of their diets, in many cases, carbohydrates. Those who teach the principles, namely bloggers and vloggers have only just started to realise the role they play in gate-keeping these issues. Many however, (Freelee the banana girl on YouTube, if you are looking for a prime example) are in denial of the implications their supposedly healthy propaganda has on their impressionable young audiences.
In my early teens I chose to become a vegan, (having been brought up vegetarian) and watched as veganism spread over the next few years and went hand in hand with all sorts of fitness regimes and morphed into a “plant based diet” for the health freaks who didn’t want to be associated with the more radical moral and environmental sides of the lifestyle. It has become more and more easy to condemn those who chose veganism or aspects of the lifestyle for health reasons, not moral ones, for not being a part of ‘the cause’ and I realise this is wrong of me. If practiced correctly, veganism, or other forms of a healthy clean diet, can be beneficial to people’s health, both physically and mentally. What I have learnt, after making numerous mistakes in attempts to find it, that wellness, for me at least, is balance and moderation. I do not eat animal products, but that does not stop me eating too many oreos and big bowls of pasta nor does it stop me enjoying smoothie bowls and agave nectar and I hope that this wellness fad does not stop others.