Since the ‘clean eating’ backlash has begun, many people have distanced themselves from the term and claimed they never used it or that they used it under (they say) a different definition. Various prominent bloggers have taken to erasing certain words, phrases, and even entire blog posts from their websites. While I won’t deny this is a good thing there’s one issue I have: they won’t admit they were wrong.
How are we supposed to realise our mistakes and to change and improve if we just erase history? That’s not how it works. Deleting posts and pretending they never happened isn’t the right way to go about this. Despite all the media attention I know of only a tiny handful of people who are actually willing to admit they were wrong (none of the ones you see on TV though), and not even one who will apologise for potentially misleading people. You may disagree but I don’t think that’s ok.
I don’t want to be hypocritical. I’ve deleted posts in the past, sure, but usually because I’ve looked back and decided they were terrible recipes and I can do better. I still have a blog post up about superfoods which has a disclaimer at the top linking people to an updated post featuring my changed views backed up with evidence rather than information from press releases. I even still have a post up about “detox tea” (oh god) with another disclaimer linking to a post about how detoxes are BS. I made mistakes. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s a good thing because it makes me human, and it allows others to be ok with their mistakes too.
I fully admit that I am responsible for people wasting their money on useless products like maca powder and teas that do fuck all except make you poop more. I know because I received commission from some of these products. In the same way, I then accepted I needed to act like a responsible qualified scientist and stop promoting bullshit, and then went on to complete a masters in nutrition because I felt a responsibility to provide accurate and evidence-based information. I got clued up, I made a change, and I admitted to it. Why is that so hard for others to do?
This post is inspired by my amazing friend Maxine Ali, who recently reposted one of her old recipes and highlighted the way she used language back then compared to now. It’s a wonderfully simple but open piece, and I’d like to do something similar here.
I want to share some of the things I used to say, and say why they were wrong. After this I’m going to remove these from my old blog posts, because I don’t want someone to stumble across one of these posts in isolation and think that’s an accurate representation of my views, because it’s not. I think that’s fair.
“I always keep a stock of frozen bananas just for this purpose, so I can enjoy a tasty sugar, dairy, gluten, preservative, egg, and hassle-free treat anytime I like.”
Personally, I don’t think banana ‘ice cream’ can be compared to dairy ice cream. They do not taste the same. Also, there’s nothing wrong with eating sugar, dairy, gluten, preservatives, or eggs. Nothing at all.
“I love adding maca powder to my pancakes as it gives me such a buzz of energy that leaves me ready for the day ahead.”
Superfoods aren’t a thing. Superfoods are entirely a marketing tactic and buying expensive superfood powders is a waste of money. The evidence supporting maca is mostly inconclusive. I’ve written more about this here.
“I’ve never been a huge granola fan due to the large amounts of refined sugar usually found in packaged versions”
Sugar is sugar, whether it’s refined or unrefined, that doesn’t change the chemical composition. Certain types of sugar (e.g. coconut) have a couple of micronutrients in them, but they can hardly be called a nutrient-dense food, and you’d need to eat buckets of the stuff to get any of the benefits, whilst also enjoying all the negative effects of sugar overconsumption.
“…these taste just like ‘normal’ dark chocolate but without all the added sugar and preservatives and other nasties! I always use coconut oil as it is completely raw, organic, and fair trade, and so so so delicious! Although coconut oil contains high amounts of saturated fat, these are mid-chain fatty acids which are the preferential fuel source for your body, so when you consume these your body prefers to metabolise them straight away rather than store them as fat. So unlike regular chocolate these will fuel you with slow release energy and won’t give you any side effects like a sugar high and slump, headaches, or lethargy. Not to mention the raw cacao providing you with lots of vitamins”
THERE IS SO MUCH WRONG WITH THIS PARAGRAPH. Chocolate is amazing, even with “all the added sugar”. Preservatives are often essential to make sure less food is wasted, and can even be something as simple as lemon juice or salt.
Coconut oil…a lot of the claims made about coconut oil refer specifically to MCTs, and coconut oil contains more than just MCTs. There’s nothing majorly specifically wrong with it (although you could make a case for the high saturated fat content), but claiming it’s something amazing and incredible is not accurate. I do still use it on occasion, but when it fits with the flavour of a dish, rather than for any health reasons. Coconut oil is great with curry, but doesn’t belong in Mediterranean cuisine.
Raw chocolate can definitely give you sugar highs and slumps. Ask anyone who’s enjoyed too many samples at VegFest. Raw cacao doesn’t provide you with “lots of vitamins”. Sure, it has a little bit, but it’s not necessarily significant in the context of an overall diet.
On spiralising: “As the weather is getting warmer I’m finding myself eating more and more raw foods, especially at lunch, as I don’t want anything cooked and I have exams coming up so don’t want to spend ages in the kitchen.”
The irony of this is that I didn’t own a spiraliser at the time so it actually took me forever to make “zoodles” or “courgetti” using a julienne peeler. Carbs are awesome, just eat noodles. Also, raw food isn’t necessarily more nutritious than cooked food.
“This quiche filling is raw, vegan, and paleo, making it suitable for pretty much all dietary requirements, and is especially for those people who are intolerant to soy products – no tofu here!”
Some might argue its quite an achievement to make a dish catering to this many dietary requirements but to me it just screams desperation and fad. Fad fad fad. For some reason, I really liked to attack tofu in the past. I think I read one thing somewhere online (probably from a certain blogger) that soy was bad for women’s hormones and that was it, it was gone from my diet. Tofu is a great source of plant protein, so please don’t fear it.
“As always, these are gluten free pancakes”
Why?! I never had issues with gluten; no allergy, nothing. I honestly don’t know why I did this to myself. No doubt I was once again following advice from Instagram.
I’m a scientist, and science is constantly updating what we know to be true about the world. In the face of new evidence and new knowledge, science doesn’t pretend we were right all along, it simply updates and changes and progresses. So, I’m acting like the scientist (and imperfect human) I am. I admit I was wrong, but that’s ok. I have improved.