Thousands of people follow the new trend of ‘clean eating’ – enjoying foods in their most natural state and limiting processed products.  It’s a great philosophy for eating healthily, losing weight and detoxing the body.

But mental health experts are warning of the risks of this surging trend, which is leading some young people towards developing eating disorders.


There’s no doubt that a clean eating diet can be a very healthy diet. Avoiding processed foods and limiting sugar, for example, are something we should all do. There’s even a place for treats: alternative recipes like avocado chocolate mousse and sweet potato brownies abound, and you will be cramming in extra vitamins with all that veg.

However, clean eating diets also encourage you to limit or completely cut out certain food group e.g.  ditching dairy for soy, avoiding wheat and embracing gluten-free recipes. This could possibly leave you malnourished by cutting out certain food groups.

There’s no doubt that the heart of clean eating is in the right place. It’s meant to make you feel alive, invigorated, energized. And that’s good, right?

For most people, eating clean DOES makes them feel great. But for others, the stringent rules start making them feel anxious and obsessed with food purity. Taken to extremes, this obsession with only eating clean can lead to a psychological condition called Orthorexia Nervosa.


If you are worried you (or someone else) may be taking clean eating too far, use this checklist for symptoms:

  • Obsessed with eating only healthy food
  • More interested in the nutritional content of food than the pleasure of eating
  • Avoidance of social occasions where you might have to eating ‘unhealthy’ food
  • Feeling of superiority when you eat healthy food
  • Feeling guilty or self-loathing when you stray from your diet
  • Spending hours researching or reading about nutrition and food


The best advice is the oldest: everything in moderation. There are now even some clean-eating food bloggers who advocate moderation have realised that there can be a negative side to healthy eating.

Finally, remember that diet is only one half of being healthy. Keeping active is just as important (if not more so) if you want to stay fit and slim, feel energized, boost your mood and get that glow. The best bit? You will be able to have the odd treat knowing that you are embracing healthy living, not just healthy eating, and not feel guilty about it. 

The Author

Kath Webb

Kath is a contributing writer for PayasUgym. Football, running, weight training, yoga and walking are her forte, along with cooking tasty, nutritious food - with a regular batch of cake chucked in.


Matthew C.
29 October 2016

Matthew C.

I think I was getting a bit like this last year as I was getting very fussy over checking ingredients and feeling really guilty after having a chocolate bar. It's best not to let it go too far, cos there's a lot worse problems in the world than eating processed food!!

Emma C.
26 October 2016

Emma C.

People are definitely taking it too far and trying to 'micro-manage' their diets. It's not surprising anxiety is on the increase.Look at the big picture, and practice allowing yourself occasional treats.

Clare R.
25 October 2016

Clare R.

I have an office full of this kind of chatter and it drives me nuts! It gets much worse if I dare eat a biscuit. I should add that I'm a regular gym goer and my weights is fine. Argh!

Emma C.
24 October 2016

Emma C.

Very interesting,. healthy eating is something I'd never really thought about being damaging but i can see how it could take over your life. Scary if you have children too.

Trevor D.
23 October 2016

Trevor D.

I know one or two people who meet that definition of 'orthorexia'. It gets very dull very rapidly. They also get a bit upset if you mention that 'detox' is done by a healthy liver, kidneys and skin, and that eating gluten-free cake is still eating cake!

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