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when did being healthy become so unhealthy?

WHEN-DID-BEING-HEALTHY-BECOME-SO-UNHEALTHY

Being healthy, or a ‘clean eater’ is the new black. From celebrities releasing clean living lifestyle and recipe books, to well known chefs preaching their own health journeys as a saving grace for all, to online food bloggers fighting it out for the most likes and best selling ebooks and apps. Being healthy has become an industry that everyone wants a piece of. When did being healthy become so unhealthy?

Promises of great health, vibrancy, weight loss and newfound youth are a lucrative selling point. Healthy is big business, and big business means big dollars. Everywhere you look a new product or product line is claiming to be the best; more organic, more sustainable, more carbon footprint friendly. Detoxing is hip, and the industry has responded in all its glory. Juice detoxes, detox powders, meal replacements, enemas, colonics and more.

As a nutritionist amongst the social media world, I have been asked multiple times what my thoughts are on popular detoxes and weight loss programs now ruling the roost. Big brands are sweeping the market with their health claims and promises of decreasing your waistline.  The more questions I receive about detox programs, the more it becomes evident that there exists a wide sweeping confusion pertaining to the current healthy living bombardment.  At this point in time I find myself at a cross road where it’s time to stop cursing at the television and the internet and open up an important dialogue with you all, no matter how many feathers might be ruffled.

First and foremost, following any sort of nutritional program that has not been catered by a professional to suit your requirements is generally asking for trouble. Ask yourself these questions for instance. How does the company marketing and selling a blanket approach system really know what your lifestyle involves? How does that company know what your daily food intake is like, how your digestive system functions? How do they know the level of which you are able to tolerate a detoxification?

For instance, what if a company is marketing a meal replacement shake as part of their protocol that is based on whey protein when you are unknowingly sensitive to whey. You start on their shakes and bars and wonder why you feel terribly bloated and run down. Alternately, perhaps you’re digestive system is compromised from a gastroenteritis infection two years ago from that overseas trip in Cambodia. You start your detox and end up in all sorts of pain and discomfort, attached to the toilet seat for days and days on end.

My point is that we are not robots. We all require a different approach. I don’t care if you are a well marketed multimillion dollar corporation, a chemist or healthfood store shelf detox program, or even a practitioner only  product program. At the end of the day people need to be seen as individual people. Just because one protocol works for one person (or a select group) does not mean that it is going to work for the masses.

Furthermore, replacing meals and snacks with shakes and bars, detox powders and juices is ultimately leaving the body deficient of real wholefood. Wholefood contains an abundance of nutrients and phytochemicals beyond comprehension of any supplement or shake. Of course juices will have more antioxidants than shakes and powders, but they are deficient in enough amino acids and essential fats to support the body’s detoxification processes on their own.

Now I must put my hand up and say that as accredited practising nutritionists at The JCN Clinic, we do support and assist detoxification  within our treatment protocols, however we choose from a wide range of options after thorough testing methods to ascertain what is the most appropriate for each client. Any detoxification protocol is then used to complement the right wholefood intake for an individual’s needs. Often this process needs to be approached with caution, and must always be done at the right time and at the right dosage for that client. If that client experiences discomfort or side effects they have an accredited practitioner there to contact and guide them through the most appropriate steps.

So what of these other popular, dietary based health trends? The popularity of current ‘clean eating’ exclusion diets such as paleo/ketogenic diets, carnivore diets along with sugar-free diets and vegan diets, which are all forerunners for the limelight. Now, now vegan readers, I know a vegan diet wasn’t always a fad, it was and still is for many a way of life. However it cannot be overlooked that the vegan diet has become part of this new marching band of clean eating processions.

These currently popular diets include protocols such as cutting out carbs and eating high protein and high fats, or cutting out sugar altogether, or going raw vegan. Who on earth is right? Breathe my friend, because no one is right. The thought that one specific dietary approach can suit the masses is ludicrous. As aforementioned, just because a dietary approach suits one person’s constitution doesn’t mean it suits the next person. I’d say its generally a good rule of thumb to approach a suggested dietary protocol with caution if the person spouting off about it believes everyone will feel just like them by following their protocol of choice.

These detoxes and diets have one major element in common. They are a ‘one-size fits all’ approach. If you are currently considering such a program or diet, please keep an open mind as to what you are being told by the corporation or personalities marketing the concept or protocol. Ask yourself, does this person have the qualifications to be preaching this product or lifestyle? Do these views seem quite extremist and far-fetched? Does replacing my meals with powders really teach me anything that will give me the results after the powders are gone?

So why are detoxing fads alongside exclusion dietary protocols based on achieving optimal vitality and health ruffling my feathers so much? Surely it’s a good thing that people, especially young people, are being inspired to be healthy instead of eating burgers and drinking soft drink.

Having the viewing field that I do as a practicing nutritionist, I have seen a frightening shift over the last 5-6 years.  A rise in eating disorders amongst the young, a rise in deprivation and exclusion diets with no professional support, a rise in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and most worryingly a rise in anxiety and fear surrounding food. People are genuinely scared of what to eat.

They are scared that they may eat the wrong thing and that it may not be healthy, that the wrong food choice will inflict resounding harm. This fear has them so petrified that they would prefer to not eat, or narrow down what they do eat to a ‘safe’ area, which commonly includes organic vegetables with some activated nuts. Ironically, people who are generally eating healthy are now feeling inadequate unless they are adding green powders to their smoothies and cooking everything in coconut oil. It has simply all gotten out of control.

Exclusion diets and one size fits all detoxes are misleading, and most worryingly dangerous. They are spreading a narrow, idealistic concept that will simply not work for each person in the same way. As a nutritionist who see’s the effects of these ‘clean-eating’ exclusion diets on real people day in and day out, I can 100% say people are more often left depleted, exhausted, confused along with dangerously deficient.

So I guess you’re thinking, well what should I eat then huh?  I still want to take care of myself so tell me what I should do! First of all, stop freaking out that everything you eat is toxic if its not activated or if it’s from the carbohydrate family. Secondly, start focusing more on a realistic balanced approach. Balance is about finding what foods suit your constitution first if you have digestive or health concerns, and then getting a balance of your macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) on a daily basis, alongside plenty of vegetables and moderate fruit, give or take life getting in the way occasionally.

Fundamentally that’s it. Being healthy should be easy, it shouldn’t be exclusive or expensive or separatist. Being healthy should be just as it sounds, being healthy, for body, sanity and mind.

Need personalised nutrition advice catered to your needs?

If you are after personalised nutrition advice and dietary planning individualised to your health and dietary needs then contact us at The JCN Clinic with your enquiry. We are always happy to answer any questions you have!

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Bri
Bri
6 months ago

Enjoyed reading this:) well said!! I’m a personal trainer and I always tell people food is not one size fits all and health is about balance. I’m glad you, a qualified nutritionist, also sees it this way. People are dying to know that there is a quick fix for everything, but it’s never going to be the case. I’m interested to know what you think of the blood type eating system? I have researched this a bit and like how it obviously takes into consideration the individual variances in people. Interested to know your thoughts….

Bianka
Bianka
6 months ago

Hi Jessica,

Thank you for writing this article. For reminding us that we are individuals and require a different approach, for highlighting the frightening fact that many of us are choosing what to eat, what not to eat (or not to eat at all) out of fear, and that balance is the key.

I would love to publish your article on my blog (I’ll email you about this).

Thank you for speaking up! This is an important message.

Best regards
Bianka

Archana
Archana
6 months ago

Jessica,

This is beautifully articulated. I can really identify with most of what is said in here. The image you show with the add-on micro nutrients, apts sums up my state of mind a year ago. I had to let go of blogger induced fads, relearn everything about food from my parents and i am much happier now.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

– Archana.

Brigid
Brigid
6 months ago

This article is fabulous Jessica! Thank you for sharing your wealth of information with the world. It can definitely be confusing and stressful to know what to eat, when there is so much conflicting information around different foods. This was certainly a big motivator for me starting my blog. I simply want to help bring the credible information together from people like you and share it with other Mum’s to help figure out what to feed our children. Keep up the good work x

Kelly Olorenshaw
Kelly Olorenshaw
6 months ago

What a fantastic article, and so needed, Jess! I totally agree with you that we’re all unique – what suits one doesn’t suit another (and coincidentally also one of the main tenets of homeopathy). I am so tired of hearing people go on and on about how everyone needs to be paleo, or everyone needs to be raw…! The three guidelines I follow are: wholefoods – whether that’s all plant based or includes good quality meat; Lo-HI (low human intervention) – the closer you can get to how nature intended it, the better it is for you; and also the… Read more »

valentina | sweet kabocha
valentina | sweet kabocha
6 months ago

“We all require a different approach”. I study to become nutritional consultant and I totally agree with this sentence. I consider myself a more-than-a-vegetarian, that means I don’t eat fish and meat – although I would recommend some fish to my clients, but I can’t eat it for ethical reason – and I’m revaluing eggs and goat cheese, trying to listen to my body after having eaten them. I think listening our body is the key to healthy eating 🙂 – but I know it’s so difficult!

Anita J
Anita J
6 months ago

Thanx, thoroughly enjoyed this article. 🙂

Lucy Fitzgibbons
Lucy Fitzgibbons
6 months ago

Hallelujah. Love your work xx

Maxine
Maxine
6 months ago

Hi jessica
What a fabulous article! It is so frustrating having unqualified people telling the masses how and what to eat. Having myself at one point followed a raw vegan diet and actually getting quite sick, I certainly believe in bio-individuality! I completely concur with you regarding your macronutrients stance and individualised wholefoods philosophy. Thanks so much for sharing such an important topic!
To an informed 2015 – Maxine (@foodbymax).

Emma Galloway
Emma Galloway
6 months ago

This is the best article I have read in years Jess! I’ve been wanting to write a post along these lines for the past few years too but with your background and experience your words hold much more weight than mine ever could. Your views are the only ones that make sense to me in this crazy ol’ healthy eating world. Much love and respect xx

Sherilyn @ The Perceptive Woman
Sherilyn @ The Perceptive Woman
6 months ago
Reply to  Emma Galloway

Hi Emma, I feel exactly the same way. This is the best article I have read in such a long time. Food is a celebration – the seasons and family are just two things that spring to mind, but there are many more. Congratulations on this article Jessica. It’s timing is perfect. It comes just after I have unsubscribed to the gazillion unqualified people out there telling people what they can and can’t put in their mouth. Thank you for you words. They are much appreciated.

Linda Dubbeldam
Linda Dubbeldam
6 months ago

Thank you so much for sharing your insights!
I think too that balance is the only word to use, finding your own balance in terms of what kind of food, how much food, balance between “bad” food and “healthy” food, raw food, seasonal, etc. Food must be fun, delicious and nutritious, for me that is 😉

Georgia
Georgia
6 months ago

Love this Jess! Well said. My philosophy, sentiments and approach exactly. Shared and sharing again!
Keep up your awesome work! Love it.
G x

Nicola Galloway
Nicola Galloway
6 months ago

Wow what fabulous words Jess. I highlighted this to read when I had a moment to read it with my full attention. I knew it was going to be a goodie! And I can’t agree more. Since studying nutrition 12 years ago now I have seen so many diets and fads emerge but as you say it has gained momentum even more so this last few years. But haven’t we lost sight of what keeps us healthy and happy? It is beyond what we eat but also what we think, how we move, our relationships, our connection with nature, our… Read more »

Hilary-rose Sutton-hooker
Hilary-rose Sutton-hooker
6 months ago

This is the best article! As a future nutritionist I have been wondering what affects these “health fads” are having on people’s health and well being. You have outlined everything perfectly and I hope this helps people who do not have nutritional knowledge. It would be so interesting for people to know that even “healthy eating” can have negative effects on your health if you do not consume the right amount of macros and nutrients.

Be Good Organics
Be Good Organics
6 months ago

Jess, Brilliant post! Agree with you whole heartedly. My own food and lifestyle philosophy and the one that I want to help others with is simply Organic, Plant-Based, Whole Foods. 80% of the time. That means chocolate, wine, burgers and most importantly – enjoyment of life, the rest of the time. I personally (as you know) choose to eat plant-based, for not only health reasons (there are rafts of research on the benefits of a plant-based diet and it’s strong correlation with lower incidence of chronic disease), but also importantly for ethical, animal and environmental reasons. However I appreciate others… Read more »

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