Clean eating has become a buzz word in the health community with everyone from A-list celebrities to food vloggers devotees of the diet concept which focusses on fresh, natural foods. But a Sunderland academic argues the case against the latest food fad.

Despite the perceived benefits of avoiding refined and processed foods and those with artificial ingredients, many of the claims are regarded as a “loose interpretation of facts” by health experts. They say while clean eating can help a person feel physically better, so can less-restrictive dietary approaches.

The University of Sunderland’s Professor Angela Smith will discuss how the concept of clean eating is now largely discredited in terms of its relation to health, when she gives her talk at this year’s Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival on October 11.

She’ll talk about those celebrities connected to the craze and the food associated with clean eating still easily found in most supermarkets.

A professor of Language and Culture, Angela explains: “The concept of ‘clean eating’ has been growing in popularity over the last 10 years, extending beyond food itself to include clothing, beauty products, kitchen equipment, and a whole lifestyle, as epitomised by the most famous protagonist of this concept, Gwyneth Paltrow.

“However, with this concept comes the promise of health and happiness, and even of cures for diseases and disorders.

“Whilst clean eating has many different interpretations, common features of the food stuffs associated with it are gluten free flour, coconut oil, chai seeds, and avocado. The health-giving promises of clean eating are largely discredited, and the whole idea of a diet that deprives the participant of the joy of eating ‘good’ traditional food is one that several well-known cooks have fought against.

“One of the most vociferous is Nigella Lawson, whose first cook book in 1998 opens with a diatribe against ‘food puritanism’.

“This is an argument Lawson has continued to make over the next 20 years of cookery writing, so it comes as something of a surprise to find that the ingredients so beloved of clean eating – gluten free flour, coconut oil, etc – are all used extensively in her recipes from 2016 onwards.

“I have been exploring how she negotiates this apparent tension between rejecting clean eating, and using its basic ingredients. How she does this is the focus of my talk.”

Angela’s talk is a part of the 2019 Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival, in partnership with the University of Sunderland, on Friday, October 11, 2.30pm-3.30pm in the Pottery Library, Sunderland Museum, Library & Winter Gardens, Burdon Road.

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About Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival

A month-long celebration of the city’s rich literary talent with local authors, local artists and local themes has begun in Sunderland.

The Sunderland Literature Festival, which is organised by Sunderland Libraries Services in partnership with the University of Sunderland, runs through October until Saturday, November 3.

The festival begins with an opening evening of murder, mystery and guesswork when the Time Bandits stage a Murder Mystery Evening at The Place Café in Silksworth Row.

People can also look forward to an audience with ever popular folk artist Jez Lowe, North East poet Scott Tyrell, a performance of The Muddy Choir, written by award winner Jesse Briton and Propaganda, Revolution and Victory to commemorate Armistice Day and the end of World War One.

There is also the chance to bring along any old film footage, to see if this can be part of a major Search & Rescue project with North East Film Archive. Staff will be on hand with video players and hand winders to enable these to be seen once again. Short archive film screenings will also be played.

For those who like historical costume, Meridith Towne will be talking about working women’s battle for the vote. There is even a Peaky Blinders interactive session with the Time Bandits.

Councillor John Kelly, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture said: “The city has a real wealth of literary and creative talent which we should all be proud of and it’s only right that we should celebrate that.

“What’s really great about this year’s festival is that we have such a wide range of themes and events on offer with something for everyone. The majority of the events are free so I’d urge everyone to have a look through the programme to see what they’re interested in and to come along and join in.”