Many individuals today are familiar with the term “clean eating”, in which a diet is manipulated to select foods that are deemed “clean”, “pure”, “healthy”, and so on. This has become quite the trend that has swooped the nation up in a quest to somehow become healthier, but can obsession with clean eating lean eating potentially lead to more dangerous consequences?
Anything taken to an extreme can always be potentially adverse, and this is no different with eating and dieting habits. Dieting trends are common among college students, in which young adults are often forming new social circles and attempting to create an identity of their own.
Students Influenced By Eating Habits of Peers
A college student may be more likely to try something that a roommate or friend is doing, and peers can have a strong influence on the perception and outlook of many important things, including food intake and body image.
A student who may have previously had a normal relationship with food may start to question their own basic eating habits simply because a community around them, or the friends they are frequently spending time with, is tending towards other choices. This is perhaps more true in a type of living situation in which students are living together.
The preoccupation with clean eating can seem purposeful, however if it is distracting from other important priorities, and if daily activities revolve around eating, cooking and diet choices, then this diet trend may be taken too far.
Clean Eating Can Mean Being Accepted
For some individuals, eating “clean” somehow equates to being “good” or “acceptable”, which can be a dangerous mindset for many, including college students who are finding their own way during this period of their lives.
The reality is that there is no morality connected with food whatsoever. Eating certain foods does not make a person good or wholesome; just as eating other foods do not make a person bad or unacceptable. Eating should be a pleasurable and satisfying experience, and sometimes an individual following the “clean eating trend” may actually have increased anxiety and stress about their food choices.
A college student, who may already be under increased anxiety for various reasons, may struggle with food choices while following any type of restrictive diet.
Any type of dieting trend that promotes the restriction of certain foods or food groups can certainly bring about adverse consequences, and this is also true with the clean eating dieting trend.
While the trend itself promotes eating certain kinds of foods, it eliminates the possibility of incorporating other foods that can also be pleasurable, satisfying and nourishing.
For a college student who often has a hectic schedule and inconsistent food sources, eating only foods that are “clean” can be both challenging and overwhelming.
Dieting Trends Can Cause Negative Side Effects
Joining in social activities that are completely normal and part of the college experience, such as pizza night with roommates, ice cream runs, and the like can suddenly be eliminated from the list simply because foods may be considered unclean.
If at any point in following a dieting trend a student begins to experience negative side effects, such as physical changes, emotional/mental distress, and more, it is important to examine how the dieting trend may be influencing their life.
For college students who may have other risk factors for an eating disorder, following a dieting trend like clean eating can actually trigger the progression of one of these deadly psychiatric illnesses, whose consequences and side effects are much more complicated.
Jumping on the bandwagon of clean eating, especially as a college student, may seem like a positive choice, but it is important to be aware of how this may be influencing your perception on food and your body and if a dieting trend is causing any additional stress or anxiety in your life.
If at any point, you have found that following a certain diet or eating trend has negatively impacted you in any way, be sure to reach out to someone for help and support to avoid any type of snowball effect with dieting.
Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope
Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 24, 2018
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com