Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


5 Comments

Making people feel like shit about what they eat isn’t an effective tactic to get them to change

ec93dca697701097841adbc6868b4fa306ff3d8bbf14c1c647d9f2b9e031195e.jpg

At some point someone came up with the brilliant idea to use scare tactics, guilt, and shame to convince people to do (or stop doing) certain behaviours. I think it may have originated with smoking cessation where people thought that showing people videos of people smoking through holes in their throats and with horrible mouth cancers would convince people to quit. And then people thought, “hey, it worked for tobacco, let’s try it with food”.

Unfortunately, while these tactics may work in some situations, and with some individuals, as a general rule, making people feel like shit about their choices isn’t a terribly effective strategy to convince them to change.

I see so many (possibly well-meaning) people sharing shaming messages in an effort to get people to follow their dietary regimes that essentially every food is now laden with guilt and dolloped with fear.

There are popular memes trying to make people feel guilty for not being vegan or to make people feel guilty for being vegan.

19fklv.jpg

1mdsgf.jpg

There are headlines like “There is no conspiracy: Gluten really is evil”, “7 reasons why you should stop eating meat immediately”, “Eating bananas at breakfast is bad for you”. Books like: 141 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health  and The Hidden Dangers of Soy. Not to mention all of the vloggers, bloggers, and Instagram nutritionistas pushing their agendas. Seriously, go to google and type in “why you should never eat ____” and insert pretty much any food in there. You’re pretty much guaranteed to get at least one hit telling you why practically every food is going to kill you.

This isn’t healthy. We should not be afraid of something that is essential to life. Something that should be pleasurable. We shouldn’t be loading every food up with fear.

For those using these fear-based messages to try to convince people to join your diet, you’re probably not having the effect you intended. Rather than convincing people to change you’re quite likely just making them feel like what they’re doing is shameful. Maybe they’ll secretly try to change because they’re embarrassed about their shameful food choices and then just feel even worse if they fail. Maybe they’ll just ingest a little bit more guilt every time they eat something they’ve been told is evil.

The nutrition world has become like some sort of twisted religious cult where once you’ve been “saved” you need to spread the gospel and indoctrinate as many heathen eaters as possible. Instead, how about we stop trying to push our person beliefs onto everyone else? How about accepting that there is no one and only diet? That what works for you and is enjoyable for you might not work for everyone else. Let everyone else enjoy their food in peace unless they ask for your opinion.

Advertisements


2 Comments

BANT Ill-being Guidelines

IMG_3828

A dietitian in the UK was questioning BANT about the new “Wellbeing Guidelines” they had posted last week. One of the most significant issues being the use of a skull and crossbones to denote foods that should be avoided. These foods being: Artificial sweeteners, Fizzy/sugary drinks, Alcohol, Pasta, bread, sweets, cakes & biscuits, Dried fruits and fruit juices, Eating between meals, Ready and processed meals (emphasis mine). BANT tried to justify this by saying that these particular guidelines don’t apply to everyone, just the people who are overweight or obese. They actually titled these guidelines “Fight the Fat – Beat the Bloat“. As if it somehow makes it better that “only” those who need to lose weight are being told that these foods are essentially poison. Because we all know that fear mongering and making people feel guilty about their food choices leads to weight loss, SIGH. And never mind that the majority of the population is classified as overweight or obese.

Sure, most of the foods to avoid are ones that people (no matter their weight) should limit. Oddly enough, there’s no skull and crossbones nor mention of foods to avoid on the guidelines for people who aren’t trying to lose weight (just a note to limit refined grains). Which is silly because healthy eating is healthy eating no matter what your weight and attaching a stigma to food for people who are trying to lose weight doesn’t exactly promote a healthy relationship with food.

The other significant oddity about these guidelines is the fact that those trying to lose weight are told to limit their consumption of fruit to no more than one serving a day while the general guidelines tell people to eat 1-3 servings of fruit a day. While I have known people who have consumed fruit to excess this is pretty rare and in any event, 1-3 servings is certainly not excessive.

While these are issues with all of the government issued nutrition guidelines that I’m aware of, these guidelines are not an improvement. Shaming people about food doesn’t promote wellness.