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The downside of 'clean-living'

HIIT, vegan, gluten-free, Barre, Paleo – these are all clean-living terms that will resonate with the health-conscious millennial group, and it would be hard to scroll through an Instagram feed that doesn’t include at least one post with these mentions. While the clean-living and Instagram wellness movement has inspired millennials to make healthier changes to their lifestyle and become more health-conscious, we now ask the question – has it gone too far to the point of increasing anxiety levels?

Aviva’s Health Check UK report found that more than a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds say they have suffered from anxiety in the past year. In addition, this same age group are suffering significantly more from feelings of loneliness than any other generation. So, is the strive for the optimum clean lifestyle and the Instagram wellness movement fuelling the rising rates of anxiety among millennials?

Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor Cassandra Barns shares her thoughts:

“The Instagram wellness movement is a bit of a double-edged sword. Of course, it can inspire people to make healthy changes: increasing your vegetable intake, having a green smoothie a day and avoiding processed foods can be great steps towards better health. But the danger is that it’s encouraging people to become too restrictive and obsessive. Living on green smoothies and salads may make you feel great in the short term, but in the long term you could fall short in protein, fats, carbohydrates or calories, as well as specific vitamins and minerals. And then you might start to feel tired, weak or unwell. It can also have an impact on your social life, friendships and relationships if you’re avoiding eating out or spending every night at the gym. This is not a balanced, healthy way of living. So, take it all with a pinch of salt and listen to your body: if you’re starting to feel worse, then it could be time to include a broader range of foods in your diet, go easy on the exercise… and chill out a bit.”

Francesca Cappozzo, Nutritionist at holistic wellness boutique, Maître of Thyme, encourages body positive confidence:

“Feeling confident in your own skin is something that requires time - enough time to get to know yourself. I really believe that the more experiences you have, the more you know yourself and the more you feel confident. Why not be confident when we are all in the same world, and each one of us has insecurities to hide. Just be vulnerable, show people that you don’t have time to care about your flaws, because flaws are what make us who we really are. Perfection is boring and overrated. If there is a moment in your life where you are feeling insecure - you compare yourself to others or look at the mirror and don’t like what you see, then grab a motivational book, talk to your best friend, go for a run, meditate and think about how amazing it is to all be so diverse. If you don’t like who you are, it simply means that you haven’t fully discovered yourself yet. So, start that journey, you don’t need to meet eccentric Shamans or Tibetan monks, all you need is already within you.”

Francesca urges you to forget the fad diets you see on Instagram:

“The hope that fad diets will vanish completely from earth is always there, but for the meantime I have to be realistic and at least hope that this summer we won’t see any Instagram trends of juice detoxes or diets that work with point systems. This whole idea of masochist tendencies makes me frown. There is good news though, at the beginning of 2018 an exceptionally comprehensive year-long study was conducted by Stanford Medical University in California, which gave us fitness and health pros a big ‘wow moment’. The study demonstrated that there is no actual difference in weight loss between a low-carb and low-fat diet, as the participants all lost about 12-13 pounds.This could mean that in order to lose weight, eating less is just enough. Of course, food is very much connected to our emotions, psychological state and social life, which is why some weight loss diets are easier to follow than others. Also, just eating less won’t be the right approach when you want to maintain muscle mass and not feel tired all the time. The best approach would be a to reduce total energy intake, have a higher amount of protein, healthy fats, slow release carbohydrates and try to avoid trans fats, processed food and keep simple sugars to the minimum.”

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