Why we fell for clean eating

The oh-so-Instagrammable food movement has been thoroughly debunked – but it shows no signs of going away. The real question we were so desperate to believe it.

For as long as people have eaten food, there have been diets and quack cures. But previously, these existed, like conspiracy theories, on the fringes of food culture. “Clean eating” was different, because it established itself as a challenge to mainstream ways of eating, and its wild popularity over the past five years has enabled it to move far beyond the fringes. Powered by social media, it has been more absolutist in its claims and more popular in its reach than any previous school of modern nutrition advice.

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