3 reasons why you should stop using the #cleaneating hashtag

Hashtags are helpful for sorting out pictures on Instagram and helping us find new Instagram accounts to stalk, erm I mean follow.

clean-eating-memeThe way we hashtag our pictures, particularly food pictures, gives us an insight into the way we view food. For example, the extremely popular hashtag #cleaneating used to be about eating fresh food and not so much processed food – it was supposed to be really simple without any strict dietary restrictions. These days, sadly, the concept of #cleaneating isn’t that clear cut anymore.

Here are 3 reasons why you should stop using the #cleaneating hashtag:

  1. Comes with the moral implication that foods that are not deemed “clean” should not be eaten

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not so much about the food in the picture that is the problem. It’s the labelling and moral implications behind the term #cleaneating that can go wrong in a split second. There’s a fine line between eating healthily and being obsessed with healthy eating that can have disastrous effects on one’s life, any dietitian will tell you that.

“I totally disagree with obsessive or black-and-white lifestyles – in whatever form they come. I disagree with cutting out entire food groups without good reasoning behind it, e.g. you need to be strict with cutting out carbohydrates that contain gluten if you have coeliac disease, but most of the people who cut out selected/all carbohydrates do so based on a lack of understanding of nutritional science.” – Dr Rebecca Reynolds, UNSW lecturer and nutritionist

  1. When used with other hashtags such as #sugarfree, #guiltfree, #raw and #vegan, it is the perfect recipe for disordered eating

The problem is compounded when #cleaneating is used together with other hashtags. Does it mean that a cake that is not #sugarfree, #raw and #glutenfree cannot be a part of a healthy, balanced diet?

“Labelling food “guilt-free” carries exactly the same risks. Simply using the term “guilt-free” implies people have something to feel guilty about with eating. The definition of guilt is “the fact of having committed a specified or implied offence or crime”. This simply should not, and does not, apply to eating. There are no foods for which it is an offence or crime to eat.” – The Moderation Movement

  1. In the pursuit of #cleaneating and thinking of food in terms of “clean” and “unclean” can lead to orthorexia

Orthorexia usually starts of pretty innocently. But for people who have had previous issues with dietary restrictions or disordered eating problems, the pursuit of eating healthily can go downhill if #cleaneating is taken to the extreme. Previously, we’ve talked about how an unhealthy relationship with #cleaneating can lead to less than healthy consequences.clean-eatingOf course that begets the question: What are some alternative hashtags to use?

Try #healthyeating which has over 8 million photos tagged. Or maybe #healthy which has 54 million photos. If you’re making your own food, why not try #homemade which hs 20 million photos. Some more specific hashtags would be #healthnotdiets and #moderationmovement.

Not sure if you are just being health conscious or bordering on being orthorexic? Here’s a helpful list of symptoms to help you identify.

READ THIS NEXT: Natasha Lipman: Living with chronic illness and orthorexia (Part 1)

What are some of your favourite hashtags to use? Share them in the comment box below!

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