The dangerous side of wellness blogs

The dangerous side of wellness blogs | robowecop

Hands up if you watched Grace Victory’s documentary, Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets, on BBC Three? If your hand isn’t up right now I’m gonna stop you right there. It’s only ~35 mins long. Go watch it RIGHT NOW. It’s very important.

Have you watched it now? Good. Let’s crack on, then.

(Apologies for the slightly random photo. That’s what I get for writing “spur-of-the-moment” posts. Sigh. It’s really shit, isn’t it? OH WELL.)

I am no stranger to food fads. I would never say I have ever had a particularly problematic relationship with food, but there have definitely been hills and troughs within that relationship. And the internet/social media has always been the reason for the troughs.

I do want to reiterate the fact that I’ve never suffered. I’ve never had any sort of eating disorder, I’ve never been on the brink of any sort of eating disorder and, like I said before, I’ve never had a particularly problematic relationship with food. BUT I feel like I am not alone when I say that my relationship with food has been turbulent. I don’t think there are many people that can say they’ve had a totally smooth ride in regards to food/diet/body image.

I also want to add a little, tiny disclaimer. This post is in the “wellness” section of my blog. That section is not the same as the “wellness blogging” I refer to in this post, but rather an easy umbrella term to add my posts on fitness, health, mental health and general health to. I ain’t telling you to live your life any way – you do you. Cool? Okay.

There’s always a fad – I remember when I was younger and adults were jumping on the Atkins bandwagon. There’s always something new that has amazing results, changed the life of Susan down the road, helped Jane on Facebook lose 5st, is SO EASY to do. It’s a thing that we have to live with and be aware of.

I find food, nutrition and exercise extremely interesting and find myself researching it quite often. And I’m no stranger to jumping on bandwagons *cough* 90 Day Plan *cough*. A few years ago when I first lost a load of weight I started a fitness Tumblr blog and my eyes were opened to the brand new world of “clean eating”. It seemed so easy. Just cut down on processed foods and you’ll look better, feel better and be better. Sounds easy, right?

Flash forward a few years and you can’t even go into your local supermarket without having this new, warped version clean eating shoved down your throat. Should you quit sugar? Should you quit carbs? Should you only eat raw? Should you eat only alkaline foods? Should you go vegan? What about paleo? Have you ever noticed how every single one of these “healthy living” solutions all contradict each other – surely that’s a sign that most of them are total bullshit?

Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets was seriously eye-opening. And that’s coming from someone who thought they were pretty clued up on the lies that are spewed from the mouths of “wellness bloggers”. Most of the things they were saying weren’t even just inaccurate, they were outright lies. Some were even funny. (Can we talk about Freelee the god damn Banana Girl saying she gets protein from her own flesh? Good god, get a grip girl.)

It’s so easy to be a pretty, thin, aspirational figure who says they “eat clean” to be healthy and happy. But what even IS clean eating? Because they all seem to preach how wonderful it is and yet take even the smallest peek into their diets and cookbooks and all you see is restriction. Whether it’s no meat, no sugar, no carbs, nothing processed ever ever ever UNLESS YOU WANT TO DIE, it’s toxic as hell and it’s affecting other people’s lives.

To me, diet should always be about balance. And I’m not talking the bullshit balance that these so-called “wellness” bloggers preach. I mean ACTUAL BALANCE. It’s not going to hurt you to have more fruit and veg in your diet, let’s be honest. Eating slightly healthier is never going to be a bad thing – I try to make healthy (or at least healthier) choices wherever possible because at the end of the day, healthy food IS good for you. But the key is to not feel guilty when you just want a dominos, or a glass (bottle) of wine, or a sharing bar of chocolate because oh my god life is SHORT. Don’t spend your life only eating raw food because you think it will make you healthy, don’t spend your life cutting out gluten when you aren’t actually gluten intolerant because someone on the internet said it’s poisonous (it isn’t, for most people, by the way), don’t spend your life worrying about whether what you’re eating is healthy or not because you’re just going to be miserable.

Today, I had a healthy lunch and a healthy dinner. Tomorrow I’m going to get a takeaway and have a few pints. And I’m going to love doing them both because I love food, whether it’s healthy food or not.

And for the love of god, take what these wellness bloggers say with a pinch of salt because there’s definitely something wrong with the fact that none of them wanted to be a part of the documentary (and when one of them did, she wouldn’t answer the question of “well I asked a Doctor and he said what you’re saying is bullshit”) NOR have they commented on it since it’s release. (So far, at least).

Kudos to Grace and BBC Three for finally breaking the silence and calling out these internet famous, pretend nutritionists for what they are.

If you liked this post, you might like Unapologetically me or 23 things I’ve learned in 23 years

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  1. Natalie
    14th January 2017 / 2:18 pm

    I agree to a certain extent. I think it’s all just a money making scam to be honest. However, I transitioned from vegetarian to vegan for ethical reasons and it can be healthy and it can be done when done properly. I think people just need to educate themselves on what they are putting into their bodies. Just my personal opinion.

  2. 15th September 2016 / 12:09 pm

    I am a major foodie and there are times where I eat way too much sugar where it gets to the point after my fifth doughnut where I think, ‘I need help’. However, I cut back on the ‘bad’ stuff and simply continue eating what I love, but little of it. I allow myself cake, but a standard slice (plus I’ve learned to share food…), I continuously eat fruit and veg on the daily as I do love the stuff, but I still eat carbs and sugar and I don’t feel bad for it! I eat 3 good meals a day, with my 5 a day and the occasional treat! I don’t think it’d do me any good at all if I were to cut everything out completely!
    Kayleigh x

  3. 19th August 2016 / 12:57 am

    Just caught up with this post- and agree completely with you. I do use the odd ‘wellness’ blogger recipe and book, but in moderation and only to supplement my (frankly, awesome! Ha) own recipes and routine. As a fat lass who eats (mainly) healthy foods, I feel there is a lot of guilt implied and attached to foods by these bloggers and it’s not good.

  4. 12th August 2016 / 7:26 am

    Hell yeah! Spot on post. It drives me nuts to read some of those wellness blogs and halfway through the post go “this guy/girl is insane. This sound utterly insane, unmanageable and sooo not healthy.”
    Great post!!


  5. 31st July 2016 / 3:40 pm

    As a ‘healthy living & lifestyle blogger’ it scares the absolute poop out of me that people might actually think I know what I’m talking about and that is why I always go on about the fact that I don’t!

    There are too many cases whereby bloggers from this niche have convinced themselves that they are an educator of sorts as opposed to someone that shares their experiences which is what we are actually all looking for.

    Emma |

  6. Laura
    30th July 2016 / 2:56 pm

    Thank you for this post! Amazing post. I’m just downloading that doc just now, I didn’t even know about it. I have recently been on the brink of an eating disorder due to crazy restriction. This wasn’t completely because of the influence of trying to eat clean but it didn’t help. I started thinking of food in really unhealthy ways when I was exploring the clean eating angle as a way to help my chronic illness related problems but hey I just ended up with more problems! Maybe it works really well for some and that’s great but for me it’s a slippery slope and I’d rather stick to the everything in moderation method, a bit of balance. Restricting is not healthy, no matter how nicely it’s dressed up.

    Thank you for this post and for drawing my attention to this doc! ?

  7. 18th July 2016 / 1:54 pm

    YES YES YES! I accidentally had caps on, but it works! I haven’t watched it yet, but I will later. I’m glad people are bringing this to attention. Tina x

  8. 16th July 2016 / 3:18 pm

    Have just watched that documentary and I agree with so much that was said. The people she was interviewing regarding wellness and clean eating did not look healthy in my opinion. I would not follow advice from them.
    It was properly suspicious when that one girl said that she wasn’t answering that question but directed it to the crew rather than the interviewer.
    Strange folk out there…

  9. ramblingmads
    16th July 2016 / 1:56 pm

    Yes! My mum is a nurse and part of her job is debunking things like this in order to help people get a more balanced diet. And balance is vital. Like one of the scientists said in Grace’s doc have a little of what you fancy but eat sensibly. Your body needs nutrients from different foods. That banana girl is bananas and must have serious diarrhoea from all those bananas.

  10. 16th July 2016 / 10:52 am

    A friend of mine’s son has been doing a very low carb diet for a long time now to get what sees as his dream body. He’s not overly vain he just wants to look good and feel fit and healthy. He was a huge advocate of no carb or at least very low carb – until he ended up in hospital in a serious condition a few months ago. Doctors asked him about his diet and he was told that his deficit of carbs were one of the leading causes of his illness. That terrified me as he has always been one of the people I always classed as leading a pretty healthy life.
    I didn’t know about the documentary but I have bookmarked it to watch now :)

  11. 16th July 2016 / 9:59 am

    I LOVE YOU. Thank you. I’ve worked with young people with eating disorders and honestly, these things are SO dangerous – all the do is normalise unnatural, unhealthy eating habits, and make people question their relationship with food.
    Like you, I’ve definitely had my ups and downs with food over the years, but thankfully have come out the other side in a healthy(ish) place – so many people aren’t so lucky, I think I need to watch this documentary. Thanks for sharing ♥

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

  12. Brooklyn
    16th July 2016 / 3:11 am

    Actually, the first thing I noticed was the picture. And I thought, hmm that looks really professional, now I want an avocado.
    Good picture!

  13. 15th July 2016 / 5:18 pm

    I totally agree… yeah I want to be healthy but I DO NOT want to miserable either. Today I may have a salad with organic lettuce but tomorrow may be that lovely chimichanga from my favorite Mexican Restaurant. I think balance is the only way to enjoy your life.

  14. 15th July 2016 / 12:19 pm

    This is a great post and a very important topic. As you said, it’s all about balance. In the past year and a half I’ve been varying degrees of vegetarian and vegan, but when I was really trying hard to go completely vegan I felt like I was stressing myself out and missing out on certain things. There is actually quite a lot of sound scientific data backing up the health benefits of being vegan (I wouldn’t call it a fad in the same way that other diets are) but I’ve learned that I can’t beat myself up when I “slip up” and eat pizza or an occasional sausage (I do live in Germany, after all, and sausage is everywhere). Same with sugar: I tried cutting out all sugar in the hopes of “curing” a then-chronic health issue, but without any type of sugar I was grumpy constantly and I just couldn’t do it. I focus now on eating as much plant food as possible and avoiding meat and dairy when possible (for example, I don’t buy yogurt or cheese for myself anymore), but when I’m at someone else’s house or eating with friends I just say I’m vegetarian and leave it at that because that’s easier to accommodate. When it comes down to it, I think the basic thing that everyone could stand to focus on is eating more fruits and vegetables, it doesn’t really matter which ones.

    Ok, I’m done rambling now ;)

    Danielle |

  15. 15th July 2016 / 12:28 am

    This is such an important topic, so thank you for making this post! As a psych student I most definitely can say that it is very true that these fixations on eating aren’t always healthy and there is definitely a line to be crossed. Of course, eating clean is a really great thing to do for your body but if it becomes more of an obsession, you find yourself binging or if you feel really down about yourself when you “slip up”, it is definitely getting into a more sinister territory.

    I definitely think balance is key here when you find yourself struggling. Eating super clean when you’re a chocolate addict, for example, is kind of setting yourself up for binging down the track! It’s definitely much healthier for your body and mind to have a little bit here and there to fix your cravings!

  16. 14th July 2016 / 6:14 pm

    Thank-you for this post – it is a subject that needs FAR more attention. As someone who DOES struggle with an eating disorder, i would never blame the media for causing it. However, it does make sustaining recovery VERY difficult – it seems i’m doing the opposite of everyone around me! So i really do appreciate posts like this, thank-you sweetheart xx

    Bumble & Be

  17. 14th July 2016 / 3:32 pm

    Totally agree with everything you say! Spot on with the bit about these fad diets contradicting each other and clearly all being bullshit. I’m so glad lots of people have watched the documentary as it’s so important. Obviously clean eating trends aren’t the direct cause of eating disorders but we cannot ignore the cultural influences on mental health and body image issues!

  18. Becky Hughff
    14th July 2016 / 1:25 pm

    Right I need to watch this immediately! I love how honest and frank you are x

  19. ninegrandstudent
    14th July 2016 / 11:08 am

    YES! This is such a good post. I don’t have the healthiest relationship with food, it’s not something I often speak about as I know how easily triggered I am, but I am fed up with having clean-eating forced down my throat. But it’s not even that, even ‘diets’ can be the same – I lived with a girl doing Slimming World and they are pretty much caught that all fat is ‘sinful’ but it works out that healthier fats are often higher sin. I think it’s such an unhealthy way to live, denying yourself what is pretty much a whole food group!

    I’m actually on a medically-advised low-card high-fat diet, but I’ll still have pasta or pizza every now and then – I’m no saint! x

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Lifestyle Blog

  20. 14th July 2016 / 11:00 am

    This documentary was amazing and so well balanced. It’s so nice to see bloggers taking on fads instead of joining in with them.

    Emma Inks

  21. 14th July 2016 / 10:27 am

    Great post! I’ve added that documentary to my ‘to watch’ list.
    I can’t be arsed with people going on fad diets. I try to be as healthy as possible in day to day life but I’m not fanatical about it. I drink as much water as I can. I get in my fruit and veg and I try to avoid processed foods. It works for me and I feel pretty good.

  22. Becca
    14th July 2016 / 10:02 am

    Love this post :) I watched the documentary last night and it was so good! It’s just ridiculous the amount of influence wellness bloggers have, when they are actually harming their bodies so much. Who the hell would eat 40-50 bananas a day, Freelee the Banana girl! :o xx

  23. 14th July 2016 / 8:47 am

    I watched the documentary and I too hadn’t realised *quite* how extreme some of these ‘wellness bloggers’ take it. It’s frightening that they can have any influence over what people choose to eat. Coming from a medical background, I found it even more worrying! I love your attitude though – balance, proper balance, is definitely the key to healthy eating.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blogger

  24. Vicky Anderson
    14th July 2016 / 8:17 am

    Great post!! You’re so right, lifestyle, diet etc is such a personal thing and what’s healthy for one person might not be for someone else. For example I suffer from inflammatory IBS so if I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables I get ill.
    Diets and fads are so damaging, not just for the person doing it but for everyone around them. Hopefully this documentary will have made people think. ❤