Everyday my Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest pages are filled with posts promoting clean eating, paleo recipes, fat-burning smoothies, raw and vegan recipes paired with photos of girls in their early 20’s with 14% body fat and super flat tummies. The psychological ramifications of these posts are far reaching – girls and women subliminally ingest that this look is desirable and vow to strictly adhere to clean, raw, paleo, or vegan diets to obtain this ideal that most of them will probably never achieve. They enter into a vicious cycle of strict micro-managing of their food and exercise, followed by depressed binging when they fail to achieve their goals.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that following these nutrition plans isn’t a good idea – for many Vegan or super-clean (nothing processed) diets are essential to keeping them healthy and illness-free. The problem occurs when your day is spent tenaciously focused on every minutia of what you eat. The daily glamorous photos of raw fruit and veggie smoothies, or oatmeal bowls laden with peanut butter, chocolate and chia seeds may look enticing and suggest a path to fat reduction, but don’t be fooled. Both the photos below depict a meal or snack that can be 400-600 calories each.
As always, I am not a proponent of counting calories, but I mention this to make a point. Sometimes even eating “right” can be wrong for you. The sugar in an average kale and fruit smoothie can be 35-65 grams (depending upon the size). The American Heart Association recommends only 25 grams of sugar in a day! The facts are simple, have too much sugar in your body (i.e., fuel not spent) it will be converted and stored as fat.
Fruit-loaded, nutrient rich meals are better than any fast food meal – always, but you can still be eating too much of a good thing! Not to mention that preparing meals of raw clean food is often very time intensive (if you’re not a good time manager) and can be more costly than one’s budget may allow. That’s not to say that eating healthy is hard or expensive like many people use as an excuse, but it does take a little more thought and energy than just grabbing whatever from wherever.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you are well aware that my philosophy on all things fitness is moderation. While to maintain healthy lean nutrition does take some forethought, planning, and preparation, it should not occupy 40-70% of your day or mind. Yet for many their obsession over nutrition does just that – consumes upwards of 70% of their mental energy and free time. That’s too much if you ask me.
So please, eat clean and lean, but don’t make your world revolve around food. Life’s too short. If you don’t have time or money to prep and enjoy a fresh kale, pineapple and chia seed smoothie – just grab a small glass of fresh OJ, a banana, and a handful of almonds. Both are great for you, though one is a clearly less time intensive, and while they both can help you get/stay leaner, neither is the secret to that flat stomach you’re desiring. That only comes from consistency and moderation with your nutrition, effective cardio, and sweat equity.