What comes after clean eating? Get to know the latest food trend

Deliciously Ella

As fans of Millennial pink will know, with any major trend comes a backlash. And right now, the buzzphrase that is getting pummeled is clean eating. One of the first big food trends to be driven by Instagram, clean eating – at its core – means choosing food and drink that is closer to nature, less processed. It’s about whole foods and short ingredients lists.

Some elements of clean eating are plant-based, and some of the people associated with clean eating have advised cutting down on gluten, or sugar. Clean eating has also become very heavily associated with the rainbow foods, bowls, chia seeds and kale of Instagram fame.


Over the past few years, thanks to the rising numbers of bloggers and cookbooks published on the topic, clean eating has also started to be seen as a diet. Diets are restrictive, easily misunderstood, and go out of fashion fast. So now, newspapers and magazines are publishing “exposes” of clean eating. A food industry insider, The Angry Chef, has published a new book against the term, and Grace Dent is examining the trend on the BBC’s Food Programme.

As you can probably tell, I don’t buy in to the clean eating backlash. I think it’s a misunderstanding of the core idea of clean eating to label it a restrictive diet, or to blame the increasing numbers of people giving up gluten – often misguidedly – on it.

There’s still a place on the food and drink scene for clean eating. But with a backlash comes the opportunity for a new trend, and here at WGSN we have some pointers.

Step up, intuitive eating. With roots that go back a long way – to a quote by Aristotle, even, but more recently to a 1995 book by US dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch – intuitive eating is also known as conscious eating, or attuned eating. Its premise is simple: eat what your body (and your brain) tell you you need. Don’t punish yourself, but do listen to yourself.

“Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well,” reads one of Tribole and Resch’s 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. “Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.”

As a way of thinking, it’s perfect for these self-care times. It may not be as easily marketed as clean eating – it doesn’t have the immediate visual language of acai bowls or kale – but in the Age of Anxiety, we’re looking for less to worry about. And for many people, food anxiety would be a huge burden to get off their shoulders.

So, let’s cheer for intuitive eating. It’s much better than Paleo, that’s for sure.

If you are looking for more insight into consumer eating trends – and you’re a WGSN subscriber – you can check out US At-Home Eating Habits and US Millennials; Emerging Diet Trends.

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