There are a lot of studies associating social media with reduced body image. 

Makes sense, right? 

With perfectly curated and edited photos, creating the perpetual highlight reel, it’s natural to play that comparison game and start thinking of yourself as less than.

Well, I took a closer look at one study which specifically looked at the effects of the #cleaneating trend in undergraduate students; and how it influences their attitude, behavior, and disordered eating patterns.

The study found that undergraduate students who felt clean eating was “healthier” or “for weight loss”, showed greater indications of disordered eating patterns, and were more likely to be associated with eating disordered psychopathology. 

The moral of the story? clean eating has been found to be potentially harmful.

Take a look at this:

  1. Clean eating could have negative health consequences that resemble those of an eating disorder, like amenorrhea, osteoporosis, bone fractures, irregular heart beats, difficulty concentrating, depression, etc. 
  2. By omitting certain food groups (sugar, carbs, fat) without justification, it could contribute to disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.
  3. Clean eating may mask already existing disordered eating attitudes and behaviors, making it more difficult for individuals to seek help.

The authors noted, “At best, clean eating is nonsense dressed up as health advice.”

Reference: Ambwani, S., Shippe, M., Gao, Z., & Austin, S. B. (2019). Is #cleaneating a healthy or harmful dietary strategy? Perceptions of clean eating and associations with disordered eating among young adults. Journal of eating disorders, 7, 17.