We hear a lot about improving our health through our nutrition. In fact, it’s the diet industry’s main way to sell their plans and products now. They position their ‘solutions’ as a means to health and well-being, when really most of them are focused solely on weight loss. As a result, popularly recommended plans and programs are most often inadequate, can become all-consuming as well as incredibly isolating.
These ‘side effects’ are often positioned as ‘worth it’ simply because it results in weight loss (what the diet industry synonymously refers to as ‘better health’). What these plans, programs and well-meaning nutrition advice fail to mention is that, no amount of ‘good nutrition’ can cancel out the negative physical, mental and emotional tolls taken on our health as a result of them.
I believe in nutrition. I wouldn’t have become a dietitian if I didn’t. However, what has become ‘good nutrition’ in our mainstream culture often does more harm than good. Adequate and appropriate nutrition is just one part of our overall health. If we are solely focused on our nutrition to the detriment of all other aspects of our well-being, it becomes harmful, not helpful. We cannot be healthy, thriving human beings without taking care of all aspects of our health, which includes mental, social and emotional (among others).
So if you’re on a plan (or just following some particular nutrition advice you picked up along the way) and it’s leaving you often hungry, irritable, unable to be flexible, takes up all your time or causes you to spend more time alone than you normally would, it is not helping you to become ‘healthier.’ These are ‘side effects’ that do harm to our overall health and well-being. Choosing to opt out does not make you weak or mean you have no willpower, it does not make you a quitter – it simply means you’ve had the good sense to put your well-being ahead of the inadequate and restrictive nutrition that’s so often sold to us as ‘the path to health.’2