How many times have you gone around the circle? No not of life, you only live once (or Yolo if you still remember that). I'm talking about the "Okay tomorrow I'm going to start eating 'clean'" and then the "ah who cares it's only one XXL Papa John's Pizza" to the "I don't even care, I'll eat what I want" circle.
Most of us cycle through these states of mind on a regular basis, and more often than you think your friends and the environment around you play a big part in influencing the circle, the "ah who cares it's only one XXL Papa John's pizza" part of my clean eating circle if you will.
Even if you haven't heard those exact words, in your head or from your friends, the pressure to veer off your 'clean' eating regime comes from trying to hold the little social life you have together.
You've put off friends one too many times and you've run out of excuses to skip on after work beers again. Why is it beer? Why does it always have to be beer? Yes, there are other drinks available but it doesn't matter, they're all a bazillion calories.
You think of the salmon, courgette and quinoa you prepared in the morning to have for your dinner while you give in to having nachos with the group (which you're really happy about deep down). If you thought only you found it difficult to juggle eating clean and having a social life, you'll be happy, or sad, to hear a new study which reveals the odds of being able to do both are stacked against you.
Researchers have concluded in a recent study that people who consider themselves 'clean eaters' and are open about it, often come off badly and are judged much harsher by their friends, in comparison to those who don't articulate their perceived dietary requirements. The same study also stated that those with orthorexia are also being judged as negatively as those with anorexia. The study deduced:
"The present research provided support for the suggestion that there may be adverse social ramifications for clean dieting behaviours and found that this effect was particularly pronounced when the behaviors were described in a more extreme manner (i.e., orthorexia nervosa),"
The same study did offer a solution however.
"Developing a better understanding of the stigma toward various forms of disordered eating is an important step toward alleviating the social burden endured by individuals with those conditions."
This conclusion was backed up with another study that focused on young teenagers/adults and eating disorders. It came to a similar conclusion, but added that the same groups feel greater pressure with the rise of social media accounts that promote an extreme dietary lifestyle (healthy/clean pages and cheat meal pages/food porn).
The study also deduced that such polarized views of 'good and bad'/'clean and dirty' meals severely effect a persons' mental health and impedes their social mobility.
Whilst these studies were conclusive, eating disorders like orthorexia are not considered a clinical diagnosis and there are no official numbers for people who follow a 'clean eating' regime. It is therefore up to the public to take the results into perspective. The line between 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' has become far too fine.
The idea of young people having to deal with mental health problems relating to food means people need to change their opinions on what is 'clean' and what isn't. As every health and fitness influencer you've ever seen on YouTube has said, one bad meal won't make you fat, the same way one good meal won't make you fit.
The important thing to remember is that you must eat all foods in moderation and understand that what you want to see from a 'clean' diet takes time. It's the reason why you don't see your favorite celebrity post to social media for a while, then all of a sudden, when they do post something you're in awe at their amazing body. These #mcm #wcw posts do exacerbate one of the problems highlighted, but when you understand that even stars have to grind for their #goals, following clean eating plans become a little easier.
On a less serious note, if you do find yourself at the bad end of these studies and you're telling everyone about your lifestyle, remember, like those who tell you they do Crossfit or have read the all Game of Thrones books, unless you're asked, no one really wants to hear about it.