Nigella Lawson, the British chef and author of Simply Nigella, is against the term “clean eating” and isn’t shy about telling you why.
In October, the anti-diet advocate told the BBC that, “the notion of ‘clean eating’ is an implication that any other form of eating is dirty or shameful.” She continued, “I think that food should not be used as a way of persecuting oneself and I think, really, one should look to get pleasure and revel in what’s good rather than either think, ‘Oh no, that’s dirty, bad or sinful’ or that ‘eating is virtuous.’”
Earlier this week at the JW3 Speaker Series in London, Lawson exclaimed, “People are using certain diets as a way to hide an eating disorder or a great sense of unhappiness and unease with their own body. There is a way in which food is used either to self congratulate — you’re a better person because you’re eating like that — or to self-persecute, because you’ll not allow yourself to eat the foods you want.”
She also believes that complimenting a person on their weight loss only rewards someone’s perception that skinnier is better. “If you are naturally thin, that is fantastic,” she says, “But if you have to starve yourself to be thin, it is not good to encourage people to be in that shape because it is not good for you.”
Lawson has a unique perspective on this issue: her mother had an eating disorder. I imagine that seeing someone she loved suffer to be thin could cause her to have such a strong reaction.
But to me, clean eating is about ingesting ingredients that are good for me. When I eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut, I don’t think it’s dirty or I’m eating sinfullly. I just think that I’m not eating a food item that’s best for my body. (My mouth wants you to know that it disagrees, because Krispy Kreme doughnuts taste divine.)
If your car requires premium gas and you give it regular unleaded, it’s not going to run as well. That’s kind of how I think about food. Clean eating is your premium.
Lawson and I do agree about one thing: everything in moderation. “There are times when you need a slice of cake,” she said. “You don’t eat it every day, but life has to be balanced and not too restricted.”