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I Help Manage My Chronic Illness With My Diet, But Don't You Dare Call It 'Clean Eating'

Thursday 28 June 2018


From Self:


Chronic Illness Clean Food
(Design / Morgan Johnson)

I Help Manage My Chronic Illness With My Diet, but Don't You Dare Call It 'Clean Eating'

And why much of modern, mainstream wellness culture is harmful to people with chronic illness

By Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
June 26, 2018
Copyright (c) Condé Nast 2018

The “clean eating” trend is, on its face, about wellness, specifically by way of eating certain foods and avoiding others. But as a “small fat” person who lives with chronic illness and manages my symptoms through my food choices, I don’t feel affinity for the “clean eating” trend as it’s come to be known. Actually, it makes me want to stick a fork in my eye. I see it as both fat-phobic and ableist, and erasing the experiences of people like me.

Since becoming chronically ill in my early 20s, I've spent the last 22 years making thoughtful choices about my food, in the hopes that what I eat might lessen my pain and fatigue, or help my immune system. In the late '90s when I realized I had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome (CFIDS), I felt that Western medicine had very little to offer for people with autoimmune disorders like me. As a broke, brown, queer femme who didn't have insurance, the way I saw it was that if eating greens and free-range meat had any chance at all of helping my pain levels, I was down to give it a try.

Like a lot of other people with autoimmune disabilities, I follow some version of an anti-inflammatory “diet” because it means less pain and fatigue. I’ve been eating this way for a while, long before the label “clean eating” had become a popular trend. But as more and more people identify as chronically ill and look for solutions and accessibility hacks (note: many people now feel more comfortable claiming those identities not as an accident, but thanks to the activism of disabled and chronically ill people), the idea that food can impact our health and wellbeing—once some wild idea only me, other sick friends, and my naturopath talked about—has gone mainstream. But not necessarily for the better.


Full article…



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