Ashleigh

meet Ashleigh, creator of #balancednotclean

15th July 2015

Read the story of how one grazer fought anorexia and inspired thousands.

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Hi Ashleigh! We just want to say first of all thanks for talking to us today, we’re all really excited to hear your incredible story!

Thank you! Graze has been a huge part of everything.

Could you tell us at what point in your recovery journey you discovered graze?

I actually discovered graze very early on in my recovery, in 2013. I had been diagnosed with anorexia in early August of 2013 and began grazing in September of that year.

I’m still using graze now, so graze has been with me the whole way!

graze boxes

What role would you say your graze snacks played in your recovery?

One of the things that had seemed particularly appealing to me at the start of my recovery was how graze snacks are individually portioned and come with the nutritional information.

At my earliest stages stage, I was very much afraid of anything that I had to portion myself out of a ‘bulk’ packet.

My eating disorder prevented me from trusting my own judgement, and I was worried I’d end up having ‘too much’.

Now that I’m no longer afraid of portioning things myself, Sharing Boxes play a big role in my relationship with food. I can adjust serving sizes and have favourites more often.

One of my most memorable experiences with graze was actually when I had chocolate for the first time in my recovery by having the 'Bounty Hunter’ punnet.

At that time, even little chocolate drops were terrifying.

I now have chocolate pretty much every day (yum!).

graze breakfasts

Could you tell us a little bit about your “balanced not clean” philosophy and what it means as a lifestyle?

Balanced not clean (#balancednotclean on Instagram) is focused around the idea that 'clean eating’ (or the opposite) is not the 'be all end all’ approach to a healthy diet.

It’s more personal and more freeing, whilst also allowing anyone to work towards any goals or ethical considerations they may have.

I don’t believe there’s a 'one size fits all’ way to eating. “Balanced not clean” encourages people to drop the idea of whether a food is 'healthy’ or 'unhealthy’ and instead focus on whether the foods they are eating are making them personally feel good, mentally and physically.

Tasty food makes us happy - and nutrient rich food makes us feel energised and awake.

It’s all about the balancing the best of both worlds.

Whether you are losing weight or gaining weight or maintaining or any other goal at all, “balanced not clean” helps keep food in perspective.

Food is just one part of a happy, healthy life.

I guess in a charming sort of way as well it is like a mini rebellion against the drastic and often unhealthy messages of the diet industry, that generally revolve around setting rules that say “you can’t eat this”, or “you can’t eat that”, or “no foods at x time”.

Restrictive rules are unsustainable. Flexibility can make for a more fulfilling and exciting life.

Having a more positive and open relationship with food has made every aspect of my eating disorder more manageable and has allowed me to reach a healthy weight and stay there.

It’s taken a while to get where I am today, but it’s been worth every challenge.

balancednotclean

You’ve mentioned discovering graze very early on, how would you say your graze snacks fit in with “balanced not clean”?

The variety is a huge component. From chocolate to fruit to nuts to cakes to olives to beef jerky, each variety box has so many different combinations.

Whether I’m mixing up something sweet or savoury, I can always find something in one of my graze boxes to take it to another level.

graze boxes

Have you heard any stories of people in a similar situation to you that have been helped by your “balanced not clean” approach?

I get a lot of messages from people from all over the world telling me that #balancednotclean has helped them see food more positively. Lots of people tell me how it has allowed them to break specific food rules their mind has set.

Others have told me how it has improved their confidence, energy levels and general happiness.

People are really taking this on board and making positive changes to their lives.

As of writing, the hashtag on Instagram has 278,865 posts. Many of those are from people who use the hashtag regularly and have personally told me they benefit from it.

Just the thought that I’m somehow helping hundreds, if not thousands of other people with this really makes me feel good. I think it’s a good demonstration of the positive power of social media.

#balancednotclean

One last question, do you have any future plans for your blog or for the movement as a whole?

I have a dream that at some point my website will be the ultimate resource for anyone with any kind of interest in nutrition, health and fitness.

That is more of a long-term aspiration though, and I’ll need to learn a lot more about a wide variety of topics before I can responsibly provide quality, helpful advice to a wider audience.

People have told me they look up to me, which is a huge honour, but also a huge responsibility and one that I do not take lightly.

I really want to learn more about how to help people. I’m up for the challenge!

Two years on...

My blog and Instagram are more fitness oriented in 2017 as my physical health has improved, however blogging about mental health remains a key focus.

I've had new battles to face over the past couple of years - but I am still blogging (and grazing!) my way through. The #balancednotclean community continues to grow and I am proud of my progress and emphasis upon transparency in the best and worst times.

Ashleigh balancednotclean

By Ashleigh, graze ambassador.

Fitness blogger and graze ambassador Ashleigh is the creator of #balancednotclean, the online movement with thousands of followers, based around living a balanced and varied lifestyle. Follow Ashleigh on her Instagram @balancednotclean

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