Monday, May 20, 2019

Retrospective #94: “Eating Clean”

The phrase “eating clean” came to my attention in early 2013 when a Singapore-based social media blogger named “Carey” posted a link to one of my columns and, all of a sudden, I had hundreds of page views from Singapore. Carey is a leader of the hugely popular Lifestyle > Eat-Drink-Man-Woman Forum on the site.
Carey started the “[Fan Club] LCHF Lifestyle” with about 75 LCHF resources, mostly links to low-carb, Paleo, and Primal sites in the US.  I was delighted that two of my columns were included in his FAQ section: #51 “Dietary Cholesterol” and #25 “Understanding Your Lipid Profile.” It was on his site that I first saw the phrase “eating clean.”
While never succinctly defined, “eating clean” appears to be the manifesto of all those Singaporeans who subscribe to a LCHF Lifestyle. I like it because it is a positive concept. There is no cultural stigma as there would be if they were to consider eating a diet that is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Never mind that the diet that most of us eat is almost all highly processed foods that have been damaged in manufacturing or preparation. Never mind that our diet, that is very high carb, high sugar, high grains, high fructose, high vegetable oils, that is making us sick!
The concept of “eating clean” is to rid ourselves of all those toxins that are part of the originally Standard American Diet (SAD), then Western, now Eastern diet. “Eating clean” occupies the high ground. It is about eating well – eating good, healthy whole foods without any snarky attributions to cave men or divisive associations with social causes, like saving the planet, that divide the population according to their political or other world views.
“Eating Clean” is also about personal liberty. We are all free to choose what and how we eat.  It is thus liberating and therefore uplifting. “Eating clean” is appealing because it is undefined. It is inclusive and has mainstream potential. That also means that it is open to interpretation, but that is okay with me so long as there is strong leadership and good guidance. In Singapore, “Carey” provides that. He is very patient but quick to respond to and correct his skeptics, often ending an edgy reply with “…hahah.” He has earned the affectionate sobriquet “uncle.”
I miss Kurt Harris, MD, creator of the Archevore Diet, a now defunct web site. See Retrospectives #18 and #19. Some of the things I liked about his site are these quotes: “I have had a lifelong interest in science and medicine as culture, and believe all claims to scientific authority should be subject to thoughtful skepticism.” An Archevore is someone who eats based on essential principles, and also someone who hungers for essential principles. Take your pick.” “After hearing Gary Taubes on the radio, I had an epiphany and ever since I've been exploring the field of nutrition through the lenses of medicine and evolutionary biology. It is becoming clear now that many of the diseases afflicting humanity are not a natural part of the aging process, but may be side effects of technological and cultural changes in the way we eat and live that have occurred since the dawn of agriculture roughly 10,000 years ago, and especially in the past few hundred years.”“These changes seem to center largely on the sequential introduction of what I call Neolithic agents of disease - wheat, excess fructose and excess linoleic acid.”
Harris pretty well sums up the new paradigm for me. I have now appended Dr. Harris’s Neolithic Agents of Disease (NADs) to my own LCHF Lifestyle: a manifesto for the West – the Yin to the Singaporean “LCHF Lifestyle” Yang.
Most of “Carey’s” followers are ethnic Chinese, and most are young women. The young men seem to me to be as much interested in building muscle and meeting young women, as in losing fat. The Eat-Drink-Man-Woman Forum is part of a social network like our Facebook, and the “[Fan Club] LCHF Lifestyle” is a popular venue. Whether the social connection is a sub-text or a pretext doesn’t matter to me. It is another positive aspect of the LCHF Lifestyle -- “Eating clean” nexus. I think it’s “brilliant,” as the Brits say. And it clearly is working. Perhaps [writing in 2013] an entrepreneur who reads this blog will see an opportunity to do this here (in the West): a LCHF forum on Facebook.
Well, in the six years since I wrote this, LCHF has certainly blossomed on the internet and on Facebook groups in particular. Apparently, many people imagined in 2013 how popular this Way of Eating would become, in all its manifestations. The most popular, Andreas Eenfeldt’s, gets 350,000 page-views a day. WOW!

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