This spring, we’ve dropped “Eat clean” from our credo.

The short story is: 

  1. We want to get real about the vital role food plays in our wellbeing. Food is as important as fitness (if not MORE!).
  2. Real food rocks…especially veggies. Most of us need to up our intake.
  3. The term “eating clean” implies some foods are “dirty” or wrong, and maybe it’s time to get real about that, too.

But there is a little more to the story.

Since the beginning, Ange and I believed that a healthy lifestyle starts in the kitchen. We developed our company’s credo to help our members understand that a healthy lifestyle is about more than crushing the bands:

Work out. Eat clean. Live fully.

As the years went on, something about eating clean wasn’t feeling right. Over-the-top voices like Food Babe had us believing that “if you can’t pronounce it, it’s poison.” I won’t pretend we weren’t on-board with this concept, and am embarrassed that - based on this thinking - the graphic in this post would take bananas off the table as a “chemical-free food”.

While detoxes and cleanses continued to soar in popularity, the science community was speaking up.  One day, my buddy Alex Cibiri of Element CrossFit posted this article featuring the headline, “Clean Eating is Useless”.  It hit my guts like a bowl of (delicious) chemical-laden mac and cheese.  I’d been feeling for months that we needed to ditch “Eat Clean”, but this article highlighted reasons we couldn’t ignore. 

Based on the ways marketers were selling the concept, clean-eating started to to imply a food lifestyle that can be perceived as anti-science. What’s worse, it could alienate people, and make the concept of healthy eating even less accessible to those who already struggle to afford to put fresh produce in their cart. Marketing is starting to mess with our common sense, and we’ve traded reading (super confusing) labels for thinking for ourselves.

Ever fall for any of these?

We’ll pay loads extra for packages that make these claims

  • “Non-GMO wheat”. There is no genetically modified wheat on the market.
  • “Hormone-free chicken.” Hmm. All living things have naturally occurring hormones. Also in Canada, growth hormones are only approved for use in beef cattle anyhow.
  • “All-natural popcorn.” As opposed to the completely unnatural kind? Plastic popcorn? TOY SNACKS?
  • “Organic cookies.” It’s still a sugar-packed treat. Organic doesn’t mean healthy.
  • “Gluten-free potato chips.” Right. So, potato chips made with POTATOES.

We’ve always committed to trying to undo the lifetime of damage and misconceptions created by food and fitness marketers.  We’re so dedicated, we’ve developed free programming for teens to help empower the next generation to think for themselves, because:

We’re living in the most confusing food era ever.  

We all grew up with conflicting messaging. First it was convenience foods, because suddenly both women and men were in the workforce and well, dinner doesn’t just make itself. 80s kids grew up with all-things microwaved. As people gained weight, we became obsessed with calorie-counting and scale-stepping. So the trick was to eat smaller microwave meals and just be hungry all the time. No one likes to be hungry so enter endless ‘light’ and ‘sugar-free’ foods, because we wanted to keep drinking sodas and eating bagels with cream cheese.  Then someone decided fat was the devil. Even jujubes were marketed as a healthy option because they were “low in fat”.  WAIT! Fat isn’t the devil, because people were dropping pounds in droves thanks to high-fat/low carb diets like Atkins and South Beach. Bring on the bacon-wrapped bacon! But hold on, maybe all this meat is cancer-causing, so we should go 100% plant-based and organic. And while we’re eating plant-based, those fruits and veggies should be all RAW. Or should they be cooked? And is that almond butter REALLY organic or is it just a conspiracy? And hold-up. Cavemen didn’t eat grains, so this idea can’t be right. NOPE. Let’s eat like the cavemen. Even though they only lived for five seconds, SURELY CAVEMEN HAVE IT RIGHT.

I mean, isn’t this a little ridiculous?

This obsession with what’s good and bad is causing more suffering than benefit. We’ve become terrified of the things we love, like grandma’s shortbread and a drive-through milkshake…all worthwhile occasional treats if they make our hearts soar.  As we said in our widely-shared Food Truth article, isn’t it time we get real about our food? Isn’t it time to stop obsessing, getting back to loving the hell out of good, delicious eats?  Can we get honest with ourselves, embracing the reality there there is NO finite formula, and that it’s simply up to us to regularly make smart, healthy choices?  Together, we can totally grab this concept and run, creating a way healthier, happier future. Who’s ready to say enough already, and get back to being real?

Work out. Eat Real. Live fully.

XO

E

(Banana graphic cred to James Kennedy)